Life after LJ with Liam Carver
Liam Carver | Website
It's always interesting to see where interns and junior designers end up after their first few experiences working inside a 'real' design studio/agency. In this series we'll be catching up with designers and interns who have worked on various issues of Ligature Journal. Let's see what they've been up to!
Tell us about your background:
Who are you? Liam Carver, well, that's my name anyway.
Where did you grow up?
I was born and grew up in Wollongong, spent my teenager-hood in the Blue Mountains and did the whole young adult thing between there and Sydney.
How and why did you choose design as a career?
I've always been visually creative. When I was little, it was drawing and designing fairground rides. When I was a teenager, it was anime and manga, and plenty of angsty high-schooler art, somehow intertwined with video games. Then I decided I loved the way graphic design communicated things with purpose, so I decided to pursue it.
Was there a defining moment in your life that shaped you and your path as a designer? Tell us about it.
I think it had to be later on in study when self-branding became a necessity. I decided I didn't have to follow trends, helpful as they might be. I remember Felix Oppen telling a class of 20-somethings one day, "we're designers, we don't follow trends, we set them".
Do you think where and how you grew up affects the work that you do? Why?
Definitely. My upbringing made me who I am; a uniquely nerdy hippie thing, and that extends to how I approach everything.
Tell us about your design education:
Where did you study? Why did you choose to study there, and what was it like?
I picked Billy Blue College of Design, honestly, because the lady at the careers expo in high school marketed it really well for one. Then when I did some more research, they offered more study pathways, because, like every high-school leaver, I didn't know what I wanted to be yet. While I seemed to have landed right in the middle of a complete overhaul of Billy Blue, resulting in pretty much every subject being re-written and not many people knowing what was going on, I had a great time. I got great return for the effort I put in which I think is the most important way to go about things like education. I learned great skills and made some good connections.
When did you graduate? December 2016
Were there other things that you did that influenced your growth as a designer during this time? (side hustles/personal projects/travel etc?)
I spent a lot of time trying to develop myself in general and that lead me to a stay in a monastery in Taiwan, which I think helped me grow in general. From this, I picked up loads of freelance and contract graphic design work with an international Buddhist organisation.
Image supplied by Liam
Tell us about your emergence into the ‘real’ design world:
How did you find life after university/college? Did graduating ‘ready’ you for the real world?
I ended up finishing the course by distance due to health and personal reasons, so I wasn't as included in the whole graduation process as I could've been, and naturally missed out on some connections and opportunities.
Where have you worked since you graduated? (doesn’t have to be just design studios)?
I've been doing contract and freelance work for Nan Tien Temple and Nan Tien Institute in Wollongong and their subsidiaries. Aside from that, I've just been floating along through part-time work.
Tell us about where you work now: what is it like and what do you do?
I still do work for Nan Tien Institute, and occasionally for the temple. My role here is just "graphic designer" but I handle all of the visual work from concept to production and curation. We do a yearly campaign project or two with lots of little general advertising things in between.
Do you do any other design (related) work outside your day job?
The most I really give myself time to do is to create cover art for music that I produce and share. Sometimes I'll make up an ongoing visual project to force me back into creativity.
Tell us about your dreams and aspirations:
What do you want your future as a designer to be?
I'm not so concerned with a fixed future as a designer. I love it, and I'd love to be designing for organisations that I believe are doing amazing things for the world, but I'm happy where I am.
If you could live the life of another creative person, who would it be and why?
I wouldn't, but for the sake of the question, I'd be someone who just designs for that high of creating something, rather than for a "purpose", because there is such honesty and expression in that.
Finally, if you could share one piece of advice with a current design student, what would it be?
Be, and express, yourself.