Emma Maja

Q1) Tell us a little about yourself!

Hey! My name is Emma and I am a 26 year old graphic designer and illustrator. I started my Instagram account @emmamajadesign a few years ago now. It started off as a place to share my design projects through my last year of university, and to start building my portfolio. After I graduated I just kept practicing and developing my skills and my style. It’s allowed me to find who I am as an artist and as a designer, to figure out what I enjoy and what areas I’d like to work on. It’s also been a great way to find new clients, get feedback and encouragement which is super important in a creative industry.

’m half Australian and half Swedish so I grew up in Canberra as well as a small town in Sweden, and I had the opportunity to see the world while travelling back and forth. My middle name “Maja” is Swedish, so incase you were wondering it’s pronounced Emma “ma-ya” design...

The main things I love to do are illustrations in general, branding, creating abstract patterns and packaging design!

Q2) Tell us about what you do, and why you do it

I always knew I wanted to do something creative, it just took me some time to figure out what!

Since I was a little kid I loved to draw. Art was my favourite subject until college where I also found a love for digital photography and fashion design. I considered studying fashion or photography further but something didn’t quite click, so instead I chose to take a few gap years and give my self some time to travel and figure out what I really wanted. I realised that what I loved about every creative subject I took was the design process! Eventually I found graphic design and it was a perfect fit! It combined my love for being creative and flexibility to continue to travel.

I’m so lucky to have found something I genuinely love doing as a profession. Drawing and designing is something I do as a job but it’s also something I do to wind down at the end of the day. Every project is a new challenge which makes it really fun and avoids repetitiveness and boredom. I’m genuinely excited to get stuck into new projects and find a creative solution, particularly in branding!

Q3) What makes you feel courageous?

I think anyone working in a creative industry can feel a little vulnerable and shy, and self doubt comes into play when others are judging what you’ve put hours of time and passion into. In college and university I hated people seeing my work when it wasn’t complete. I’d spend most of my uni years at home working on projects rather than in class so people couldn’t see the process. Having an Insta account where I post my work was really daunting at first. I thought I wouldn’t get enough likes or I’d look silly or my skills weren’t good enough. Over time the platform has definitely made me more courageous in sharing what I’ve created, and has taught me that people aren’t always interested in a polished final piece but rather the story and the process behind it. People choosing to follow me, giving me positive feedback and people requesting commissions or to hire me makes me feel more courageous and proud each day!

Q4) What is one thing you wish you could tell your 16-year-old self?

First of all I’d tell her that choppy disconnected layers are not a great hair choice. Secondly I’d tell her to not stress out about what to do with her life...because what you’ll end up doing barely exists at the moment. Technology is going to make it a whole lot easier in the future! I’d also congratulate her on dropping maths for digital photography because it turns out that was a better choice than her teachers might have thought.

Q5) What is one piece of advice you can give a fellow lady who might be lacking courage?

If you enjoy doing it, as hard as it can be, don’t worry about people’s opinions and go for it! Find a group of like minded people to support you. If you’ve got a mentor then use that. For real some of the best advice I’ve received when I’ve been a little lost has been from other women in the industry who have mentored me. I truly believe in collaboration over competition so if you’re stuck, don’t be too proud or embarrassed to reach out to someone more experienced for help! (And be that person for someone else in the future!)

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