We ask the tough questions

What's the biggest thing you've learnt this year?

That postgraduate study is HARD! I have never really doubted my academic abilities, but in deciding to do a Graduate Diploma in Design Anthropology this year, I have had many moments of doubt and frustration when my efforts weren't paying off. My partner convinced me to get over the 'high achiever' pressure I put on myself, and I am now embracing the challenge and loving everything I'm learning. The course is incredibly interesting and is helping me to understand how and why humans assign meaning to the objects in their environments and respond to design in different ways in order to create tangible experiences. In essence, these experiences are what make us human, and an understanding of this is incredibly insightful for a designer.

What’s your proudest moment?

Crossing the road alone in Ho Chi Minh City and staying alive. It sounds ridiculous, but it's symbolic of a much larger picture. I recently travelled alone to Southeast Asia, and while I've travelled abroad by myself in the past I was not prepared for the culture shock I was to experience when I first flew into the crazy Vietnamese city of motorbikes. The first day, I bought myself a beer at 9:30am (yes!), drank it swiftly and then attempted to conquer my anxieties. Whilst I was filled with fear about what I was doing and what the next three months might hold (as disfigured people tried to sell me dog meat and everything else under the sun), I quickly turned the trepidation into excitement and began my journey. As a result I will never be more proud of my ability to always go forward into the unknown, have no regrets, and have the time of my life. Life is about experience, and as a designer I am especially inspired by the small moments where I feel completely and utterly alive.

What’s your number one stress relief tactic (keep it clean!)?

Cooking! I love to cook because I have to stay so focussed on timing things correctly and not burning anything (not always successful), that I manage to wipe everything else from my consciousness completely. I end up feeling much more relaxed and removed from whatever was causing the stress. I just realised… maybe I'm really just a stress eater!

What’s the best thing about being a soloist? And the worst thing?

The best thing is the creative freedom and ability to do the work that I love without having to make too many compromises. The worst thing is when you know you should be doing something but the task is so daunting that you begin to procrastinate. I can safely say I plan well enough to always get things done on time, but sometimes it would be great to have someone breathing down my neck because it's easier to get things done when you are worrying about being perceived as slow or lazy.

What’s one habit you’d like to change?

I'm a serial nail-biter. Yes, before you say it… I've tried all the nasty tasting gels and things that you paint on but it doesn't work. I think I'd have to take up smoking to stop the chewing, but I'd rather die of ingesting too much nail than cancer, thanks.

What would be your advice to aspiring soloists?

Invest in a sustainable graphic designer (joking… but not really)! In all seriousness, I would probably advise that you never stop learning. If you start making a killing and then become complacent because you are doing the same thing every day, the thing you once loved becomes a task that you might eventually start to dread. If you stay inspired and pledge to always be growing and moving forward while still appreciating the present, you can love what you do forever. Also, don't be afraid of change. If what you're doing isn't working, admit it to yourself and try it another way. But whatever you do, don't give up!

What website do you visit every day?

Oh this is embarrassing. Facebook and Google Analytics. You can't tell me I'm the only one obsessed with seeing how many hits my website has had? I'd like to think it isn't yet out of hand. I think it's just nice to know where people are coming from so I can evaluate which marketing initiatives are working and which are not.

What talent do you most wish you possessed?

I wish I could sing, people close to me know I certainly try. I'm one of those annoying people at a party who have three drinks and then like to show off that they know every word to the song, even when they don't.

What inspires you most about your work?

I absolutely love that I believe in what I do, and I am incredibly grateful that I can say that with complete honesty. Sometimes I might struggle financially for a time, or feel slightly disappointed when other people don't share my views for a sustainable future, but I can wake up every morning knowing that I am doing the best I can and being true to the values I have, and that hopefully some other people might also benefit from it at some point. It's inspiring because I don't have any doubts or guilt weighing me down, and this type of freedom helps the creativity to flow.

What book are you reading?

Natural Capitalism by Amory Lovins, Paul Hawken and L. Hunter Lovins. It's all about the need for a new democratic framework where we value our natural and human capital as much as our financial capital in all the decisions we make and things we do (which is basically the definition of sustainability). This is based on the idea that natural capital has a huge market value that we don't realise, because without things like crude oil and fossil fuels we would never be where we are today.

And now comes the plug!

What do you do? Who for? And how does it benefit them?

I create engaging visual communication and print solutions for businesses and organisations with a conscience. By considering the ecological and social impact of a design and print piece, it is possible to produce unique designs that will position your business as a market leader for an affordable price. Sonja Myer - Sustainable Graphic Design provides services including logo design, branding, stationery, brochures, marketing collateral, web design and stacks more.

 And where can we find out more?

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