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Meet Jess Ibbett, Shillington Graduate and Freelance Graphic Designer

Sydney graduate Jess Ibbett had always aimed to work for herself, so she could carve out a lifestyle that suits both herself and family best—Shillington enabled her to do just that. Since graduating she has built a regular flow of freelance graphic design jobs, launched a craft beer business with her husband where she takes care of all the design needs and started a creative women’s business with a friend.

We had a great catch-up with Jess finding out what she’s been up to after studying at Shillington and how the course helped to support and equip her creatively.

What have you been up to since graduation? You’ve worked on some amazing things since Shillington, can you tell us about those?

I’ve been quite busy since graduating from Shillington! Firstly, I worked on my graphic design business, building it up from a few freelance jobs here and there to more regular client work. Working for myself has always been the aim as it allows me to carve out the lifestyle that suits me, and my family, best. Then, during the first wave of the pandemic, my husband and I launched our craft beer business, Kicks Brewing, which we have recently expanded, opening a new brewery in Marrickville. My husband is the head brewer and I take care of all our design needs, and together we split the operations, sales, admin etc. Another pandemic project I started with a friend is Creative Women’s Business, a community and events initiative for women working in creative industries.

As well as your design skills, you’ve also got some incredible illustrations. Are you able to tell us about your illustration skills and how you incorporate that into your design work?  

My illustration work sort of came about organically, as I have always drawn and painted, and was regularly painting works on canvas and with watercolours years ago when a few clients approached me about illustration commissions.

My hand drawn illustration style was always at odds with my more structured modern design style, but I think now I’ve found a good balance.

And that’s mostly from getting opportunities to use my illustration skills in my branding work and having to ensure that the illustrations align with the rest of the visual identity.

What’s it like running a brewery!? We can imagine your design skills come in handy there?

Running a business can be incredibly stressful at times but aside from that, it’s been so much fun so far! I don’t personally know that much about beer or brewing, but the people in the industry have been really lovely and welcoming. I also love working alongside my husband—we make a good team. My favourite part has definitely been illustrating the can labels for each limited release. My husband comes up with some really weird and wacky beer names and using these as the starting point, without too many other creative constraints, is the best way to get my creative juices flowing.

What piece of advice would you give to someone who is about to graduate/start the course?

For those starting, I’d say use your experience to its fullest.

By that I mean, throw yourself into the briefs, treat every piece of work seriously and ask your teachers a million questions. And to those about to graduate, ask your teachers a million questions! They are there for you and have a wealth of knowledge, so anything you’re wondering about whether it be the design side of things, or the business side of things—ask away and I’m sure they will be able to guide you. Also, get to know your fellow students—they are there on the journey with you and you have the opportunity to be each other’s support network and potentially form some really great friendships.

Anything else you would like to add? Tell us something surprising!

Something surprising?! I am not a sweet tooth, give me a bag of crisps any day—but I will always be grateful for the jar of cookies provided by Shillington for getting me through the rigorous process of coming up with exciting concepts for our given briefs each night of the course. A hit of sugar during the design process is never a bad thing!

Huge thanks to Jessica for sharing her story with us! Make sure to check out her website and follow her on Instagram to keep up to date with her projects. 
Feeling inspired by Jess’s story? Learn graphic design with Shillington and change your life in three months full-time or nine months part-time.

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