Women In Design feat. Julia Darze

Meet Julia Darze, Senior Brand Designer & Partner at Fiasco Design. From a 3-month career gamble to becoming a Senior Brand Designer and Partner, Julia shares her design journey and shares invaluable insights as a woman in the design sector and as a mentor.

The purpose of article series ‘Women In Design’ is to feature, showcase and share the reality of being a woman in design. We gather and showcase stories, career journeys, as well as advice and wisdom.

Could you please introduce yourself as well as your background?

I’m Julia, but everyone calls me Jules. I’m a Senior Brand Designer, and more recently a Partner (still not used to saying that!) at Fiasco Design, a brand and digital studio in Bristol.

I moved to Bristol after taking a bit of a gamble on a 3 month Junior Designer placement at Fiasco. I hoped that I’d be kept on, but almost 6 years later – I’m still here! I think that’s down to the amazing people and culture at Fiasco.

My childhood was split between Rio de Janeiro and the UK. My family are mostly doctors and engineers, as is pretty common in Brazil. Nobody in my family is creative, and so I think that moving back to the UK and going to an arts-focussed school with teachers that could see my potential was pivotal in showing me that a creative career was for me.

I’d say I’ve had a pretty non-linear route into the industry. Not for lack of trying! But sometimes life just gets in the way and we have to take a step back to pause, re-evaluate and find another way in. I started my Graphic Design degree at Edinburgh University which was a very proud moment for me and my family. Unfortunately I was severely unwell at the end of my first year and that meant me having to leave university. It was gutting.

I moved back to Rio where I landed an internship at a cool animation and TV studio. Whilst it was super exciting to get my first taste of the industry, I realised I just wasn’t at the level I needed to be; technically or conceptually. I was too impatient to restart uni behind my friends, and instead took up a course at Shillington – a 3 month intensive industry-focused design bootcamp. It was perfect.

Almost immediately after graduating I landed my first design job at FMCG-focused agency in Birmingham. It was a great experience and I had some amazing mentors, but I realised that branding and creating meaningful work for clients was what I wanted to pursue. That’s when the opportunity at Fiasco came up.

In an attempt to capture some of the Wisdom you’ve gained as a woman in the design sector so far, what are 5 “stand-out things” you’ve learned that you’d like to pass on to your peers as well as the future generation of talent within your sector?

  • Support one another.
    I used to get a sense that there was always a feeling of competition and comparison between female designers. Like we were all vying for the same positions or to be seen and recognised by our male counterparts.Gladly, having worked in the industry for several years now,  I’ve seen a huge shift in attitudes. At Fiasco, we’re a female-strong team and we foster a really positive, encouraging and empowering environment for one another. There’s space for everyone. We all deserve to be here. So I’d say to not forget to support one another, and make sure everyone feels encouraged about the work they create.
  • You can do anything you put your mind to.
    I’ve struggled a lot with anxiety and my mental health. My mind often tells me that I can’t do it, that I’m an imposter. So my advice is to remember: you worked really hard to get where you are. Don’t be afraid of the unknown; learn new things and push yourself, because if it’s something you are passionate about and have the will to do – you can.
  • You’re not expected to do it all.
    I see so many job ads out there listing a huuuge list of expected skills and software proficiencies. Young designers assume they need to be an expert in everything; from UX/UI to animation to strategy, the list goes on. It’s simply not necessary. There’s nothing wrong with being a jack-of-all-trades (or Jill-of-all-trades?) but it will be much more valuable to your own development to find your specialty and carve out your own distinct way.
  • It’s okay to disagree.
    For women especially, we feel obliged more-so to say yes and take on too much; taking on tasks we’re not truly passionate about and that don’t benefit our own personal development. Just remember sometimes it is okay to disagree, to voice your opinion, and to follow your heart.
  • If in doubt, ask.
    If you’re ever feeling alone; if you don’t know the answer; if you feel stuck on a task or need a different perspective; reach out to your colleagues. There’s no such thing as a silly or wrong question. Never stop learning.

What is your take on the importance of role models?

I think role models are essential, inside and outside of the design industry. They’re someone you can trust to give you honest advice, they’re people that encourage and push you and help you to harness your own potential. I’ve found being a mentor myself – as part of the UWE Buddy Scheme and Shillington Portfolio Reviews, really rewarding.

A positive role model can be really influential throughout your whole life. I’ve been lucky enough to have been surrounded by many great role models. There’s my mum obviously! But also professionally there’s my old art teachers at school, Luke Tonge who really helped me to get a foot in the industry, and the founders of Fiasco – Ben & Jason, for creating such a positive and encouraging place to work. But lastly, all the wonderful talented female colleagues at Fiasco: Clauds, Clare, Nat, Hayley, Marj and Hannah who constantly blow my mind.

If you’re inspired by the stories and wisdom shared in our ‘Women In Design’ series and would like to contribute your own experiences, we’d love to hear from you. Creatives at all levels, please email Olivia and your story could be the next we feature.

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