9th May 2017 

I Can Be... a Designer 

I Can be meets alice keegan, a graphic designer and founder of et and und studio. alice lives and works in somerset. at the time of our interview, she was based in london. 

Have you always wanted to be a designer?

No, my course at university was called creative advertising. I loved it and got an internship at a really good advertising agency afterwards. I almost got a job but kind of had a crisis in which I realised that it wasn’t what I actually wanted to be doing. I didn’t really realise that until I was working and it was really hard just thinking all day that I wanted to be doing something else and making more. I quit the job, not really knowing what I wanted to do and did a few short courses in set design and graphic design. I thought it’s similar to advertising in that you think up your own ideas but as a designer you get to create things as well as thinking about them. I did a Masters at Kingston, graduated, did a few internships and then got my job now.

Do you think that being a woman has made a difference to your career at all?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. In graphic design, there aren’t very many women but a lot of girls do it at university so I don’t know what happens to all of those girls? Advertising is a very male dominated industry as well. I haven’t had an issue with it, I have just done what I would usually do. I’m very career focussed so I have chosen not to see the lack of women as an issue. I can see why not having any girls in the industry could put people off a little bit though. Luckily the place I work in is very small. At first the company was all men and I was the only woman, but I get on well with men and there were only three of us anyway! We have just got two interns and they are both girls because I really wanted girls to even things up a bit.

Also, you can definitely tell the difference between a girl’s design portfolio and a boy’s. Girls are actually more conceptual and better at really thinking deeply about things whereas boys will follow trends a bit more.

What advice would you give to a girl who was thinking about design?

Always keep working, keep thinking of ideas. Do lots of creative things in your spare time, not just design, do everything! I always did dance and design and art. I never really wanted to be a designer, I was always an artist but being generally creative really helps. It gives you a wider range of creative knowledge which you can put into your design work. The design that doesn’t really succeed is the design that copies other designers whereas if you know a lot about creativity, about art and all aspects of creativity then you’re more likely to do something which hasn’t been done before.

It must be very hard to do something that hasn’t been done before?

Oh yeh, definitely. You’ve just got to try not to think about it and to try to do what’s right for the brief. When you are a designer you need to think about why you are doing something and not just make it look pretty. Think about who’s going to be looking at it and what it’s for. Every single shape that you put it or every type face needs to have a reason behind it and that’s when it will become original because it is really for something.

What do you have for lunch at work?

At the moment because it’s summer I’ve just been making salads. I get all of the ingredients at the start of the week and then they last me all week. Although yesterday I did have a burger, I was just really tired…

How do you get to work?

I walk along the canal. It takes me about 45 minutes but it’s really nice just to have a bit of me time and get my head together. I listen to Woman’s Hour on my way to and from work.

Me too! What is the best thing about being a designer?

That’s a really hard question. I suppose, I work in the music industry so I get to do whatever I want to do. If you work with good clients you will get to be totally creative and there are just no limits to what you can do. I play around on Photoshop all day or make origami. Every job is different and you are using your mind every single day. You have to think and you have to create things so I am never bored.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

At the moment, the highlight is something that I can’t really talk about…

It’s a secret highlight?

We’re working on a really good album cover. If you asked me that question in two weeks and we had definitely won the job I would say that but I’m not allowed at the moment! I also just designed a new website for the band Oasis, which is the biggest thing that we have done so far. It’s brought us a lot of work. I was the Creative Director on that project so it was all my work, it was my baby. That was really great!

If you weren’t a designer, what would your plan B have been?

I ultimately want to be an artist, even though I love being a designer. If I could work for myself and sell my art that would be awesome so I guess that is plan B. Doing my own thing rather than having to work for clients all of the time would be great. I also wanted to be a set designer for a while, so that was my plan B when I was deciding on a career.

What are your aspirations for the future?

Like I said, working for myself somehow. If people commissioned me to do my own stuff, say if this album cover goes through that would be great because people could commission me to design their album covers. Having my own art in a gallery or selling it somehow would be nice too!

Do you still do your own art in your own time?

Yes, I still do a lot. I try to do it as much as possible in the evenings and at weekends, mainly because I enjoy it and I find it very relaxing.