Chené Schoeman, currently studying Communication Design at Rhodes, shared with us where she’s at and where she’s headed…
You’re an Honours student and already building up your portfolio. Are you branching out into commercial work?
As I am in the final year of my degree, our workload is greater now than ever before and finding time for freelance projects can be difficult. However, being on a student budget is a great incentive to seek out commercial work! Up until the beginning of this year our curriculum was very much focused on learning the software that these jobs require and absorbing the basic principles of design. Building an online portfolio forms part of this year’s course, so I will focus on accumulating a good representation of my skills through my own projects, to send out to potential clients and employers.
Communication Design is one of five specialisations that the Rhodes Journalism degree offers. We choose our specialisation in our third year and this is how I was introduced to the world of design. Design was never something I planned on doing at university as I never believed that I was creative enough. I always had these imaginative ideas but could never find the right platform to express them. When I first became familiar with the design software and programs that I am currently using, I was excited to see my ideas begin materialising into something real. Now I can hardly picture myself doing anything else! It is really satisfying to bring an idea to life and produce work that people find beautiful and inspiring.
What themes do you tend to return to in your designs?
I find myself looking to integrate people into everything I do. I love using faces and bodies because they display emotion so well. Emotion is such a big factor for me and I always want my own designs to instil some form of sentiment in the person looking at them. Another theme for me is creating a series within my projects. I like to do a minimum of three similar designs, each with their own unique twist. I lean towards work that has a modern and clean look. I am a firm believer in ‘less is more’. I think that designs that can stand boldly on their own are most captivating. I am also currently working on a few new projects that are pushing the parameters of my personal style.
Can you give us some insight into your creative process?
There is this false notion of being able to “release your creativity” or to “let your creativity run loose” that gives people the idea that creativity is just sitting inside of you, waiting to be triggered. Creativity is something that needs to be worked on and practiced, much like any other skill. Often you will find yourself with an idea that only after hours of working on becomes something tangible. It can be a tedious process but it is a part of the job. I therefore find that most of my inspiration comes from discussions and bouncing my ideas off other people. This once again brings me back to the topic of emotion. I want to know what people think about the subject that I am working on, what their own experiences are and what kind of change they hope to see. I then do my best to incorporate these factors into my work.
What is your idea of a dream job or brief?
Ideally, I would like to be involved in a work environment that is uplifting and fun. I admire companies that can support an exciting yet professional work environment. I would like to be in a role where I could collaborate on a wide range of projects, including branding; digital work, such as websites and apps; illustration work, and even larger scale projects such as creative spaces. As a designer, working well within a team is so important because putting heads together can result in both the creation of amazing things and the opportunity to receive advice and constructive criticism – valuable aspects in becoming a better designer.
What are your plans for the future, post uni – or would you like to continue studying after Honours?
I feel myself gravitating more towards getting started in the working world. The question I have been asking myself is, “will completing a Master’s degree make me a better designer?” I have come to the conclusion that the only way to do this is through experience. Although I still have a bit of time to make a final decision, I think the best way forward for now is to find my niche and pursue that.