I’ve been asked this a few times lately and thought it would be good to do a post on it.
AGDA & Ross Floate
Back in the day when I was working at Melbourne Business School (MBS), I was a graphic designer doing corporate work and I really wanted to break into a studio environment where there would be a larger range of projects. Someone mentioned that if I was a member of AGDA, we could ask for a mentor. So to be 100% honest, thats why I joined AGDA. Thru that, I met Ross Floate. We met once a month (if memory serves me right) and he gave me the critical feedback I needed and looking back, I realise what a goose I was. I had never heard of Adrian Shaughnessy and my favourite designer was Stefan Sagmeister (which is perfectly fine, except that everyone straight out of uni says that). Ross pushed me to get out and look for something, anything, which was different, challenging and was very realistic about what was out there as well. He’s still in touch and has passed clients our way and I’ll always be grateful for that. You can read his thoughts here and here.
MBS & Piper
Piper is probably the mentor of my life. We met when I was working at MBS, I was a newbie designer and she was responsible for Marketing the EMBA program they had. The first time she saw one of my designs, she gave me blunt (and rightly so) criticism for my unwise use of green in a layout. Needless to say, she left a mark on me. She was (and still is) intimidating, hugely (ridiculously) successful and you wonder what she sees in someone like me. We had kept in touch on and off when I left MBS and I was looking into mentor programs online (where you have to pay $XX / month) and I asked her what she thought. She said “you shouldn’t have to pay for a mentor”. That was when I made her my mentor.
We skype once a month, I email her updates and she’s always more than happy to check our styling for invoices, marketing and policy documents and everything in addition to it. For serious advice, you can find her here.
I don’t think we realise it, but there are casual-mentors that are doing their thing all around us. I’ve got a handful of people that I go to when I would like advice / thoughts / perceptions. Some of them may have references I refer to and others, I would contact directly.
Tess. Kirsten (her taste in music is awesome). David. Cheri. Kirsty. Ros. My family. Bernadette. The list goes on. Some of my clients have become dear friends and mentors to me as well. To be honest, some small part of me gets disappointed when I meet designers and they don’t know about Brand New, Brain Pickings, TED, Brand Flakes for Breakfast and other goodness, and I have to remind myself, that that is probably how Ross felt about me when we first met.
So once you’ve got them, how do you keep them?
Value their time.
They are doing this out of the goodness of their heart and they’ve seen a whole lot more shit than you have. Turn up on time and make sure they know you appreciate it.
It’s irritating when you’re talking to someone and you feel like it’s going in from one ear and out the other.
Try and have your questions ready. Focus on your growth and where you want to get to. Often, these are the people that provide the pathway.
Little treats go a long way.
Whether its grabbing their coffee, making them a “thank you card”, cooking them some homemade grub – whatever you can do, do it.
Kish is the Creative Director at Kish+Co. She’s had many people help her get to here and she’s determined to do the same for other creative and ambitious people. She can help you with your business growth and point you to a fair few resources. Even if its just a coffee / a chat, she’ll be excited to meet a new face and offer a few ideas.
You can find her at:
Creative Director and Founder of Kish+Co