What’s an about page without a good story to help you get to know more about someone before you decide to work with them? So, get comfy, grab a coffee (and a snack, probably) because here’s mine and it’s not short.

We all have deep, dark secrets so I’m going to start this by sharing 2 of mine with you and how they have helped me succeed as a graphic designer and brand consultant.

Deep, dark secret #1

Firstly, the biggest personal challenge I’ve had to overcome in life and as an independent designer in business is that I’m a chronic introvert. Since I was little, my parents had problems just getting me to say ‘hello’ to visitors, and I think most of my school teachers didn’t even know I was in their class. My school reports always had the comments ‘quiet, reserved, needs to participate more in class discussions’. (Although my hubby would beg to differ. Haha!) As a typical INTJ-A personality type, I’m extremely reserved but also infinitely curious.


I’m quite happy living in my own little world, and have always loved creating things: cutting, folding, drawing, painting and colouring-in.

 

So, have I overcome my introversion tendencies? Nope. And that’s not likely to change. But I’ve learned to work with being this way and actually found it to have a number of advantages in being a successful designer.

Spending all those hours on my own, immersed in creative activities for ages has given me great focus and I can really get into a project completely without being distracted by outside stuff (excluding cats).

 

As an introvert, I prefer to connect with only 1 or 2 people at a time, so it comes naturally to me to give each of my clients personal, focused attention.

 

I’m also more of an observer than a participator, which really helps in design projects I undertake because I am OCD about attention to detail and find it easy to consider all angles of an idea. This helps with proof-reading and checking for errors in my work, too.

Plus, Introversion has made me a good listener and able to understand and take into consideration ideas that clients have and want me to include in their work. It’s made me more intuitive, like a mind-reader (almost). HeHe!

Deep, dark secret #2

My second deep, dark secret is that I don’t have a design degree or any formal qualification in design (gasp!). Yep. I am 100% self-taught. My parents couldn’t afford to send me to college but luckily I was employed by a prominent art store catering to top local artists, and also apprenticed at a couple of printing companies where I learned the lost art of manual print layout, paste-up, and typesetting, and dabbled in the dark-room.

 

Not having a formal qualification in design has forced me to learn faster and smarter than someone with a formal design education because my livelihood depended on how quickly I could produce quality work under pressure.

 

Working for printers, I learned things they don’t teach you in design school, like understanding, first-hand how to (and how not to) run a successful business. Most qualified design graduates today end up in 9 to 5 jobs they hate because they aren’t taught how to succeed in the world of self-employment.

Besides learning how to be super fast and accurate, as a self-taught designer I’ve also developed the habit of always researching and learning the latest trends and best ways of doing things, something I still do. I have an honorary degree in Googling.

 

I think that I’ve had to work harder than certified designers …

 

Because I couldn’t rely on a qualification to secure projects, skill and my portfolio were all that I had to prove my worth to clients – along with word-of-mouth referrals from happy clients. No laurel-resting here.

My Story

How I got to be a successful, sought-after designer

The last print company I worked at (all the way back in 1997) refused to upgrade their equipment which made it impossible for me to keep up with their growing design needs and print output. So I quit!

When I first started out on my own, there was no such thing as independent or freelance designers. As soon as other printing companies caught on to what I was doing, I got a lot of work from many of them, including the one I had resigned from – at double what they had been paying me before. Haha! Karma is a bitch.

 

Logo development and branding are my thing and South Africa has had the perfect economic climate to master these skills.

Since the eradication of our apartheid government in 1994, declining employment in South Africa has forced many citizens to start their own businesses, resulting in a demand for brand development, especially in the small-businesses sector. Freelancers didn’t exist back then and small businesses couldn’t (and still can’t) afford agency rates so I was a very busy girl. (AKA I have a LOT of logo design and brand development experience.)

 

I’m a bookworm and a self-confessed grammar nazi.

This lead me to dabble in book design which fast became a new skill. And I found myself signing book design deals with prominent publishing houses and also with a bevy of self-publishing authors. And yes, I prefer to work with authors one-on-one than with big companies. If you need to get your book onto Amazon, then I’m your gal.

 

Then social media arrived and has become the go-to option for effective, affordable design-specific marketing

Today, more and more small business owners are opting for online advertising or downloadable brochures rather than printed ones. So, naturally my work has veered in that direction and I make time every week to research the latest online marketing trends.

 

I’ve learned to become a not-too-shabby iPhone photographer.

Social media marketing relies heavily on great images. So photography – iPhone photography specifically – has been added to my list of skills and helps me ensure that images I use in my designs are totally unique and custom created for each project as I take and edit most of them myself. (Visit my Instagram account for an idea of my style). Oh, and I’ll also offer one-on-one lessons on how to use your phone to take great pics. (PS – all the images you see here in my website were taken with my iPhone – for real.)

 

My purpose is to use what I’ve learned to help you grow your business and your bank balance.

To make your life easier, I have combined all my skills into a comprehensive offering where I guide savvy business owners, like yourself, through the entire process of branding their start-up (or rebranding), marketing, getting online, and building a custom audience to sell their product or service to. It’s fun and exciting, and totally doable in bite-sized pieces, depending on your unique needs, availability and budget.

Some random design stats

[These numbers are are on the lower side of approximate.]

  • Books I’ve designed and typeset: over 400 to date (April 2018).
  • Business cards I’ve created: at least 1500 (probably more).
  • Logos I’ve designed: about 300 (excluding pro bono ones).
  • Branding projects I’ve completed: approximately 200.
  • Projects commissioned per month: 15 – 20.
  • Typing speed: 103 words per minute.
  • Celebrity projects: 2 local and 2 international.

 

Weird quirks and facts

  • My late mum was a designer and so is my baby sister. My dad was a printer and is now a copywriter (he’s also a grammar nazi).
  • I trained in classical piano for 6 years but my introversion prevented me from following a career in music. I have an auditory eidetic memory, which means I can hear a piece of music once or twice and remember every sound and instrument and harmony. It’s a curse.
  • When I was little I developed my own language by adding ‘loo’ to the ends of all words ending in an ‘l’ sound, like candleloo, bundleloo, snailoo. I still do it sometimes today.
  • I have a ginger daughter who lives in London. Her name is Eowyn (yes, from LOTR). She isn’t a designer but is working towards a diploma in child psychology. She sometimes helps me out remotely with book layout, proof-reading and deep-etching.
  • I’ve been a vegetarian since my late teens. And an aspiring vegan since … forever. (Dayam, why is cheese so yummy?)
  • We have 12 cats and 1 very brave budgie.
  • My hubby and I were secretly married by 2 prominent swamis in a mountain ashram in Sri Lanka. We were on their local TV news so the secret was out. We’re also both practicing Hindus.
  • I can make cardboard roses out of toilet roll inners, paper twine out of newspaper, bottle-brush Christmas trees, and hand-spun cat-fur wool (no kidding).
  • My maternal grandfather is a direct descendant of the founder of Baumann’s Biscuits (he used to make us the most amazing shortbread when he was alive).
  • I’m related to Alan Paton (by marriage) on my dad’s side.
  • Sometimes (okay, most of the time) I have an awful potty-mouth.