Creatives in the Industry: Q&A w/ Carlos from Flipside

From Flipside trainee to Junior Product Designer, Carlos shares his golden nuggets of advice for fellow creatives finding their feet

2 December 2022

Tell us about yourself

Hi, I’m Carlos. I’m currently working as a Junior Product Designer for Farfetch, whilst doing graphic design on the side and being a project coordinator for Shoreditch Trust.

What do you do?

For Farfetch, I’m part of a team that redesigns websites/apps. With Shoreditch Trust, I have been creating a mental health programme for black men that aims to explore how identity, perspective and self-awareness affects our daily lives.

Also, I’m currently taking a 3D Design course, focused on 3D Printing, VR/AR and 3D visualisation. After this course, I plan to apply all the design knowledge I have learnt over the years into developing my own product for the market.

What are the most enjoyable parts of your job?

My favourite thing about being a designer is that it makes me feel like a child again! I’m growing as a human being, learning to be more empathetic, finding balance in compromise, listening more attentively, and constantly being confronted with new information that questions what I may have previously believed.

How do you know that what you are doing is right for you?

I only realised that designing was for me after a lot of trial and error following university. I graduated in 2019 and felt stuck until I made peace with the fact that at some point, I’m going to have to dedicate my life to something if I want to have a roof over my head and food on the table. I can either let life and other people choose that for me or I can take control and choose it myself. I’m glad I chose the latter.

Tell us about your journey getting to where you are now

After many different projects, internships and assistant work (mostly unpaid), I felt like it was about time I found my footing in the creative industry. To me that meant having a stable full-time job. The more I applied, the more I realised that no one reads applications of those without a minimum of 2-3 years’ experience; especially an application from a law graduate that’s probably in the midst of some sort of life crisis (that’s what I felt sometimes when I looked at their faces, whenever I had the occasional interview).

To get a job, I needed experience as soon as possible, because other than being tired of rewording the same cover letter countless times, I also had pressure at home. To be completely honest, I had to find a way to make money from all the different things I was doing. Graduating with a law degree and soon after deciding to be a designer didn’t necessarily sit too well with my parents. However, I knew that if I could find financial stability, they would eventually be okay with it (which they are now).

To keep myself afloat financially, I did everything I could, from going self-employed, or working with my dad, to the traditional retail assistant/barista job many of us graduates get after uni – all the while anxiously reasoning these temp choices with anyone that asked with an ‘until I find something else’ response. My ‘something else’ came around mid-2021, through a DM about the Flipside programme from a friend of mine.

What key learnings are you taking away from this experience?

Flipside gave me the opportunity to have the real ‘on the job’ experience I needed. This came through the brief they set and the 3-month placement with Farfetch, before I went full time with them.

I loved meeting the other Flipsiders; we managed to develop a great bond during our time together, so much so that we still catch up and check in on one another from time to time.

The most important lesson I learnt during the programme is a direct quote from one of my mentors: ‘focus on the problem and not on the solution’. It's easy to settle on a quick and instant fix when dealing with a problem, but that can prevent us from fully understanding the issue at hand. If we take delving deeper into our problems as our primary approach, the solution we find can oftentimes resolve the problem at hand and other related ones.

Having a mentor throughout the whole Flipside programme was instrumental because it made me start thinking about my work as a career as opposed to just a job. A career is built ideally on a strong foundation with a planned and calculated path, whereas a job is something that we do to pay the bills without necessarily thinking of a continuous progression or a journey filled with multiple paths to take.

Another great piece of advice was given to me by my previous Head of Design, who really stressed the value of patience. I believe that in the times we are living in, it’s easy to open our phones and get the illusion that everyone is succeeding and doing well whilst we’re stuck in the same place.... The truth is that the majority of people who possess their dream jobs have had to work hard for a long time and be comfortable with failure (or they were blessed with a nice, shiny and well-connected silver spoon.) Nonetheless, being able to dissociate yourself from constant comparisons to others early on is a key factor in being able to grow in our respective industries at our own pace.

Lastly, I would recommend exploring all your interests. I tweeted the other day that when I was talking to some of my colleagues after one of our 3D design classes, for some reason I felt this sudden overwhelming joy in realising that I have always explored my curiosities. No matter how unrealistic, corny, pretentious, childish etc. I’ve always explored what makes me tick and that will probably be my proudest achievement in life. I truly believe that’s the best advice I can give –don't allow life to just go by without at least trying the things that you’ve always felt curious to try; you never know where it’ll take you or how it’ll change you.

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