Sarah Holden, graphic design assistant

 26 July 2016

After graduating with a degree in illustration, Sarah Holden decided to focus more on design. She now works as a graphic design assistant and also a print maker, putting on collaborative exhibitions. She explained her role and how to get into design.

"The jobs I am given are normally very fast paced meaning I am constantly occupied"


I am from Weldon in Northamptonshire.

What job do you do?

Currently, I am a graphic design assistant but I also work on my own freelance projects as an illustrator.

How did you become an illustrator and a designer?

I have always known that I wanted to base my life around something creative.  So when I went to university I decided to study a degree in illustration. 

I have done things from album covers and posters to table plans for weddings

After graduating, I then decided that I wanted to focus more on the design side of things. I began applying for jobs that I felt would cover both specialties.

I have kept my illustrator's side open by being a print maker and putting on collaborative exhibitions.

What qualifications do you have?

I have a B/A Hons in Visual Communication (illustration) and a Bronze Arts Award.

What do you do for your job?

I do a huge variety of things! 

You need to be proud of everything you show so you can talk about it in a positive light

Some days I am editing videos and products shots. Other days I am spending my time sketching out ideas for logos or sourcing imagery for brochures. 

It all depends on what the senior designer needs the most and how quickly.

The illustration projects I have received have also been hugely diverse. I have done things from album covers and posters to table plans for weddings.

What is the best thing about your job?

The different things I get to experience. As an assistant, my main role is to make sure that the senior designer has everything he needs. This means I get to spend hours making colour palettes one day, or sourcing fonts another. No two days are ever the same.

Also, the jobs I am given are normally very fast-paced meaning I am constantly occupied.

And the worst thing?

When I get a job that is not as exciting as a previous one, or I don't click with it on a creative level.

And keeping my motivation going whilst also trying to make sure that the job is still done and to the correct standard. 

How do I become a designer? 

1. Know your market. Don't just spam every art director for every magazine or website without first looking at whether you think your work would suit them in the first place. Take time to research which companies you would like to work with, who they are as a company and how you think you can work with them.

2. Don’t give up. When you first graduate you can get a lot of “no” and disappointments. That is ok, the more you persevere and find your own place in the market the more likely it is you will get that first “yes”.

3. Make a stunning portfolio. Design agencies are looking for examples of beautiful layouts, typography and just a great eye for detail. Make sure your portfolio demonstrates these things. If you are not sure about a piece, don’t put it in. You need to be proud of everything you show so you can talk about it in a positive light in an interview.

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