Hi, I’m Marissa and I’m a Graphic Designer from Bristol. I think that my friends and family would describe me as outgoing, motivated, and creative.

I’ve spent the last 3 years in Birmingham studying Graphic Communication at Birmingham City University. I loved being a student at BCU and in some ways, I wasn’t ready to leave, but I know that chapter in my life has come to an end and a new and exciting one awaits me.

I’m now working as a Graphic Designer and hoping to eventually specialise in Brand Strategy, Brand Identity Design and UX/UI Design. I love understanding how people and brands interact through design, and using strategy insights to come up with creative outcomes that both fit a brand’s personality and solve the business problems such as standing out in their market. As my interest in Brand Strategy has grown, I’ve realised that it’s closely linked to Marketing, which isn’t my favourite subject, but I’ve still taken the initiative to understand Marketing in order to enhance my branding skills. I like to think of Branding as being the personality of a company, how it looks, feels and sounds, and Marketing as being the ways that personality is then communicated to people.

My last big project was at university and it was linked to my dissertation, which looked at the representation of black women in the beauty industry. As I’m also a curly-hair-care Youtuber, these topics are close to my heart. I created a fictitious make-up company whose brand values providing quality, premium products for women with deeper skin tones at an affordable price. I shared my work and friends were suggesting I develop it into a real company. 

I’ve always been creative whether it was through dance, drama school, drawing or making things. I studied GCSE Art and Media at school and I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do at college, but I remember enjoying a magazine editorial module and my mum told me that was Graphic Design. My mum pushed me to study something that I enjoy at university and knowing that I was clearly a creative child with a mind that always has to be stimulated, gently steered me away from subjects like psychology which I also have an interest in, I’m glad!

I found out about Babbasa when a Branding & Packaging Design agency where I previously had a placement recommended that I put myself forward for the SXSW + Ben Martin Apprentice Award, which Babbasa was involved in [the award looks to open the door to young people from all backgrounds and provide them with a real opportunity to break into the creative sector].

Straight away I loved everything that Babbasa do. I went to networking events and after I won the award, Babbasa and the other organisations that supported the award promoted me as the winner. This put me in a great position to talk to people and made networking a lot easier, as I can be a little introverted when outside of my comfort zone because a lot of people were approaching me to congratulate me.

It’s incredibly great to have organisations like Babbasa that help young people network and gain opportunities and experience. One of the things that I’ve realised is that the creative industry seems quite small in that everyone knows someone who knows everyone etc, and so people talk. If you do have the chance to talk with certain people and they pass your name on it can be really beneficial. People always say that it’s about who you know and how you present yourself, and it really is. Most of my opportunities so far have come because I’ve set a good impression as a person and I’m keen to learn, and so someone was kind enough to offer me an opportunity which has led to more; my design capabilities have almost seemed to be an afterthought however, people are usually impressed when they do finally see my work too. 

At the moment I’m spending summer doing work placements with various Bristol-based creative agencies, where my plan is to learn as much as possible to become a well-rounded designer, as well as freelancing. I currently have summer placements arranged with around 7 creative agencies, and I’m spending roughly 2 weeks at each.

Winning the Ben Martin Apprentice Award meant that I travelled to Austin – Texas for South By Southwest, the world’s largest interactive media festival, in March, where I met people who are established in the creative industry, learnt about how brands are evolving and immersed myself in the future of design and technology. 

My advice for other young people is to talk to people and ask questions! I know it can be nerve-wracking but work on your soft-skills such as how to confidently speak with or in front of people, and other areas of self-development that help to build you up as a person, alongside your hard-skills. Invest in yourself, find a hobby, try something new, push yourself out of your comfort zone etc; nothing changes if you don’t change.

My university often put on networking events with people from industry, it’s how I landed my first placement which has ultimately led to where I am currently, and events like those are great opportunities to talk to people – you might not immediately land a role, but later down the line it could lead to something, even if it’s just a good connection to have or mentoring and also, every person I meet I connect with on LinkedIn! One big thing that I try to do as well is learn from other peoples’ failures, and so when I meet experienced professionals, I ask them for one piece of advice that they would give a university graduate just starting out in their career.

You can follow Marissa’s work via:

Twitter – @mlpdesigns
Instagram – @mlp.designs