The story behind our logo

Guest post by Illustrator, Graphic Designer and Podcaster Emily, @21andsensory

My name is Emily, but most people know me as @21andsensory. I am an Autistic Illustrator, Graphic Designer and Podcaster. I host my own 21andsensory podcast where I speak to neurodiverse guests from all walks of life including Authors, Actors, Influencers, Illustrators, Artists, TikTokers, Educators, Activists, Writers, Speakers, Producers, YouTubers, Podcasters, Sports Teams, Researchers and Scientists!

I’ve worked with brands such as BBC, BBC Bitesize, Airbnb, Royal College of Psychiatrists, Jessica Kingsley Publishers as well as institutions such as Oxford University, Reading University and Durham University, to name a few!

I’m based in the UK and I have a degree in Graphic Design, I graduated with First Class Honours in 2016. I was doing freelance work throughout my uni course (as well as working part-time) and decided I wanted to go straight into a full time design role after I graduated. In September 2016 I landed a job as a Junior Digital Designer within a creative communications agency.

I learnt a lot on the job but after 8 months I started to have a look around at what other jobs were out there. I stumbled across a design position but it was different to anything I’d ever seen before. I was offered a solo-in house design role within the engineering/tech industry working as a Creative Designer, which I stayed at for almost 5 years. Since then I’ve had 2 other jobs within the industry – one as a Graphic Designer and my current job as a Graphic Designer and Content Manager (these have also been solo in-house roles). I work on a bit of everything (and anything!) such as:

– Graphic Design – logo designs, rebranding, defining brand guidelines

– Digital Design – websites, interactive displays, conference and panel talk presentations

– Print design – exhibition stand designs, large scale posters/sticker designs, merchandise

– Illustration – custom illustration and infographic work

– Filming / Photography – such as photographing projects being built in cleanrooms and labs, photographing events/visits

– Social media – managing and posting to a variety of social media platforms

– Video Editing / Audio recording – for socials and for internal/external use

As you’ll see below, Emily worked wtih us to create the EnterTech logo and produced a range of designs for various uses across digital and print platforms. 

I have come to realise just how much I have learnt a lot around the scientific topics of physics and science on the job then I ever did in school. I’ll never know the very technical things and I don’t have an engineering degree. And that’s okay. It’s okay to ask questions and to clarify things. You cannot, and will not, know everything there is to know in life and it’s something I try to remind myself. I’ve become not only a more proficient problem-solver but someone who is constantly learning.

If I don’t know something there’s nobody else I can ask as I’m a solo designer (and imposter syndrome feels very real).This initially felt quite isolating but I’ve really come to see the positive in this. I bounce ideas of other people in the company and they have a fresh outlook.

I have been working as a Graphic Designer now for almost 8 years I’ve realised how flexible the role can be in terms of industries you can choose to work in and you don’t have to necessarily take the route of working in an agency if that doesn’t suit you. I now work at a small company which I much prefer in comparison to larger more corporate businesses I’ve worked at. It’s all about finding the right fit for you (which is definitely easier said than done).

Being autistic and how I create:

I think and approach things differently in comparison to neurotypical peers but I think that is an advantage and could make me stand out. I work uniquely, I spot things others might miss and I have a mind that always considers accessibility when I am creating things.

I think in terms of being autistic within my own experience it enables me to have a fresh outlook and different perspective of the world around me especially as I am more in tune with all things sensory-related. I have this ability to really hyper-focus in on creative briefs I am set to do at work and also things I set to myself to do within my own side projects. I do tend to lose track of time as I get quite into what i am working on! I think both my SPD and Autism both help me creatively. Also: routine is a massive thing for me. I enjoy having a full time job that keeps me busy 9am-5:30pm during the week. It’s something I can really set my mind to and need this structure in my life in order to exist.

I think not knowing I was Autistic until I was 25 (and I could just about mask my way through each day) meant I didn’t really understand how being Autistic affected me and I am still learning about this. But I found and continue to find creating work quite difficult to manage and balance without burning out.

Some struggles I encounter as an autistic person in the workplace:

However there are some big strengths I feel being autistic brings to my work:

My creative process:

I always try to start on paper – never straight onto a computer. I tend to start off by sketching out ideas and writing in my A5 sketchbook with a pencil. Depending on what I’m designing or creating I might initially start out by researching on my computer or gathering inspiration and creating a mood board to get me started. Sometimes I do a few initial sketches or small thumbnail sketches before I am happy with the layout and then transfer over to a computer (I use the Adobe CC suite for graphic design work and Procreate for illustration).

For me it’s important to still have time to create and draw for my own enjoyment outside of my full time (and for my Instagram page @21andsensory) so I do that through illustration, podcasting, writing blogs, filming videos and just being a little bit more free and less restrained (but not less of a perfectionist!) with my own work.

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