Aug 2020

Team DAC’s tips for anyone starting out or starting over

Our recent work with Gray’s School of Art on the Virtual Degree Show 2020 sparked a lot of reflection among the team about our own beginnings. Within our studio, we have a diverse range of skills and with that comes a multitude of different journeys to get to the ultimate destination of joining Design and Code.

So, for anyone starting out or starting over, in the creative industry or otherwise, here are some nuggets of wisdom from some of team DAC that we’ve picked up over the years.


Try not to look left and right too much and compare your achievements to those of your peers. It’s damaging. Everyone is on completely different paths — different circumstances, different abilities and different goals.
Ruth, Graphic Designer



A well curated online presence will go a long way. Your online platforms are an extension of your portfolio and of you as a candidate for future roles so remember who might be watching.
Tuesday, Creative Director



Get on the front foot. Great jobs just don’t fall into your lap unless you’re immensely talented or very lucky. There’s so much competition out there so you need to put in the work. I sat back a bit after graduating and looking back I wish I’d been more proactive.
Colin, Founder



Try not to be so nervous about networking. Networking is a scary word for a lot of people. Luckily, many networking opportunities in the creative industry come in the form of relaxed events — sometimes even with a few beers which always help. Exhibitions, talks, launch nights etc are all networking events but don’t feel like the traditional definition. Networking is just conversations.
Becky, Studio Manager


Find people who are better than you – you will learn so much by looking to people who have skills beyond your current capabilities. Similarly, try to find your own network of creatives who you look to and can contact for guidance, support, motivation and inspiration.
Sabine, Motion Graphic Designer



Where possible, go for jobs you really want. When you’re passionate about a job it comes across which means you’ll present yourself better whether you realise it or not.
Maddie, Designer + Illustrator



You can learn software skills! No one knows everything when they start out. No one knows everything regardless of their experience. Be honest if something is way out of your abilities — if you’re working with lovely people like the DAC team there will be zero ego and they’ll happily help you. If it’s smaller technical things that you think are within your reach, do what I did when I started (and still do) — Google like mad. Take notes of shortcuts and tips that you learn along the way and one day you won’t need them.
Ruth, Graphic Designer



If you don’t get an opportunity, keep things open and friendly. Ask for your CV and portfolio to remain on file for when an opening becomes available.
Tuesday, Creative Director


Work out the type of company you want to work with. Research them. Try to highlight some overlap between your portfolio and the type of work the company does to show you’re a good fit for their team. Once you’ve found the right contacts, pester them — but in a good way!
Colin, Founder



Don’t be afraid to get in touch with studios and creatives that you look up to. Generally, people are kind and remember what it was like to start out so will be willing to help you on your way*. So email that studio, interact with that creative on social media, start conversations.
Becky, Studio Manager



Learn to work on multiple things at once – you’ll most likely have to juggle a handful of projects at once in your future role which means that undivided time working on projects from start to finish might be a luxury.
Sabine, Motion Graphic Designer



Use spare time wisely but don’t feel bad about not perfectly juggling freelance/another job and your efforts to progress your career. It’s easy to feel like you should be doing more but you never need to burn yourself out to get there.
Maddie, Designer + Illustrator


As always, be nice. Often, opportunities are born out of genuine, authentic connections. People want to help and work with nice people. So for this and a myriad of other reasons, be kind. I’m pretty sure I got my job at DAC because I was passionate, enthusiastic and nice… and I nagged Colin a few times, politely of course.
Ruth, Graphic Designer



Competitions are a great way to test how you can apply your skills to a real-world challenge and expand your online community. The deadlines will help give you structure and there are always briefs out there to choose from. Whether you win or not you can still post about your output and use it in your portfolio so it will always be beneficial in some way or another.
Maddie, Designer + Illustrator



When working on larger projects, don’t get discouraged by the mountain of work you might have to do. Just go step by step and don’t worry about the thing as a whole too much. Tackling big projects takes getting used to and you’ll get there.
Sabine, Motion Graphic Designer



We could go on and on but that seems about enough for one day – and we haven’t even touched on portfolios! What advice would you give to people starting out or starting over? Let us know over on our LinkedIn

*We’re not lying! Maddie has recently done a number of portfolio reviews with recent Gray’s School of Art graduates. All of us at DAC remember what it was like at the beginning of our journey so we’re always happy to help out however and whenever we can. Feel free to get in touch for a chat as we’re always looking to work with new talent!

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