Our Sharon.
Getting to know the A Team

1. Tell us a little bit about your creative self, why did you want to be a designer, where did you study and how did you get started in the industry?

Well, I got into design purely because I had absolutely no musical talent and desperately wanted to be, quote/unquote useful to a band, so I thought “I’ll make posters” and that was the logic for years. My family was very...understanding. It wasn't until I was actually in college that I started to recognise the power and importance of good visual communication and that’s when I really fell in love with design.

I graduated from IADT during the recession and got let go from my first internship as the studio was forced to shut down. So I looked abroad and worked for a while in Spain but then they had a recession and — fearing it might be me — I headed to a country with good financial stability just to see. I took a job in Germany with Edenspiekermann and worked between their Berlin and Amsterdam office for years.

2 - How do you see yourself as a female in the design world?

I’ve had plenty of interesting bumps on my journey as a designer — language barriers, cultural differences etc — but the one that sticks and transcends all is being female.

From dealing with big male egos that do not want to be dictated to by a 5’ 3” woman or the painful knowledge that you’re being paid less than another teammate — it’s just a harder slog. But I do have to say I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by a lot of people — both male and female — who recognise that these situations are not ok and who are actively working to have those conversations with other people around them and to make change happen. So I see myself as part of a big movement and I feel lucky, tired but lucky.

3 - When did you first hear about WhyDesign and what was your reaction?

While I was living abroad, I made sure to actively keep an eye on the Irish Design industry and I think I just randomly stumbled across WhyDesign, it was probably on Twitter — where would we be without it? Having been involved in various groups, with somewhat similar aims in Berlin, I was absolutely over the moon to see an initiative like this back home.

4 - How and why did you join Team WhyDesign (hook or crook)?

I reached out to the force that is Kim Mackenzie-Doyle to see if there was some way I could get involved and next thing I knew I was sitting by my local Kanalufer, compiling lists of women to be featured on the upcoming WhyDesign site. It just so happened to be a fantastic excuse to spend time poring over inspirational women back in Ireland.

Back then it was a great way to feel connected to home but it was even better when I finally moved back and got the chance to meet these women that I already felt I knew and better yet, to work alongside them. It’s an amazing little team that pulls all this stuff together and I’m so delighted to be a part of it.

5 - Where would you like to see WhyDesign in 5 years?

One of the aims I love most from WhyDesign is the youth educational aspect. The trouble I had — and to some extent still do have — to convince my family that I was choosing a viable, and important, career option can’t be understated. I think more information and visibility in schools for the role of women in the design industry is so important.

I was recently involved in a project with primary school children, tackling their disinterest in Maths by teaching them creative ways to solve problems. It was heartening to interview the children afterwards and see not only their ideas of gender roles subverted but to see them actually understand and appreciate design and it’s practical applications in the world.

I’d like to see WhyDesign leading more initiatives like this — and just generally being more widely known, reaching more people who can benefit from it most, when they can benefit most.

6 - What is next for you?

Honestly I have no idea, these are worrying times for everyone and there’s so much uncertainty but I do know that in times like this is when creativity is most important so I’m up for the challenge and excited to see what comes up. Maybe I’ll start a band.


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