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Industry Insight: Laura Hurst, Graphic Designer and Illustrator

For our next Industry Insight article, we interviewed Laura Hurst, a Graphic Designer and Illustrator based in Glasgow. After working as a Designer for a small print studio in-house, Laura now runs her own illustration and design studio. Laura offers some brilliant advice for young creatives looking to enter the industry, as well as being an all-round lovely person and talented designer that we had the pleasure of interviewing!

Laura Hurst by Kris Kesiak

Hi Laura! Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your work?

LH: I’m an independent graphic designer and illustrator figuring it out as she goes along! My style is all about texture and tactile elements — I love working with watercolour, paper and anything that feels visually tactile. I work with small businesses on all sorts of design projects, mostly branding and collateral that they need to present themselves in the world. How did you get to the point you're at now?

LH: I happened across a brilliant job when I came out of university, in a small print and design shop. I was job hunting in Glasgow and was looking for a bar or restaurant job to tide me over ‘til I figured out what I wanted to do. I saw this massive poster in a shop window that said “Graphic Designer Wanted”. I went inside, had an interview on the spot and ended up staying for eight years.

During that time I worked my way up to Senior Designer/General Manager, and learned a whole bunch about print, people and life in general. I’d always wanted to run my own

business and I’d forgotten that dream over the years, but then my feet started to itch! I

went self-employed in 2018. Print suited me as it was very hands-on. I’m into crafty things like knitting, painting and DIY, so I love getting stuck in and getting my hands dirty (and covered in paper cuts, when you work in a print studio!) Even after eight years it was still so exciting to see your project go from flat on the computer screen, to a tangible printed product. In fact I still get excited about it now!

When you were a child, what career did you see yourself having?

LH: All sorts of things! But the ones I remember the most are interior designer, architect, and cartoonist. Most of the things I wanted to do involved creativity somehow, so it doesn’t surprise me that I ended up doing something like graphic design. I loved computers and video games, and loved making things, so it makes even more sense when I think of it that way. What are you most proud of doing? What do you consider your biggest achievement to date?

LH: At the moment it would be surviving the pandemic as a sole trader. For various reasons I didn’t qualify for the SEISS funding from the government, which was a bit of a blow but the lines have to be drawn somewhere, and unfortunately I just slipped through the cracks. I’ve got by on a very small number of projects but mostly from selling cards on Etsy. The plus side of this is it gave me loads of room to reflect on my business and figure out what I REALLY want to do with it. I feel I’ve come out the other side of this in a much stronger position in that respect. It’s also made me incredibly resilient to any financial lulls I might go through in the future!

What do you hope to achieve over the next year? What are you most looking forward to?

LH: To take all that reflection and put it into practice and build the business I really want to have. In the beginning I spent a lot of time looking at what other people were doing, and looking for answers externally. The fact is, I had the answers all along: I just have to trust myself to go with them. Favourite cultural product at the moment?

LH: I’m a bit late to the game but I just finished watching Schitt’s Creek and LOVED it. I loved David Rose’s character, and felt I identified with him in some ways. It was just such a lovely, comforting thing to watch during all this madness. Another thing would be Animal Crossing New Horizons — again, super comforting and just such a lovely, innocent thing to be able to tune out to when the world feels a bit intense. How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you?

LH: I wish that we were taught more about being allies with other girls when I was a kid. In school there was often a sense of hostility between groups of girls, and definitely a lot of bitchiness. I was a really shy kid and found other girls to be quite intimidating, and I think this made me a bit wary of them. And sadly this nastiness can carry through into adult life (of course this can be down to individual character traits). But at a young age I don’t think you’re aware of the difficulties that face specifically women in adulthood, and so encouraging more positive relationships could be massively beneficial. I’m not suggesting we force people to be friends for the sake of it – just create a less toxic emotional environment early on.

What is the most important message you want to send out to young female-identifying creatives thinking about their careers?

LH: Do it your way. When you question whether you’re ‘good enough’, or if you’re ‘doing it right’, or whether you have ‘the right’ to do put your voice out there – push through those crunchy feelings and do it anyway. Trust that you have the answers. Even if things don’t go the way you imagined you’ll still learn something, and that’s never a bad thing.

Where can we find you?

@heylaurabelle on Instagram

LaurabelleStudioShop on Etsy A massive thank you to Laura for taking the time to answer our questions!

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