Insights into a Graphic Designer’s life.

Always wondered what life is like being a graphic designer? Our own student, Tara Larkin gives us a first hand insight into her life evolving in a creative subject and considering her goals for life.

Delve into the world of graphic design as we talk to Tara Larkin about the ever-evolving digital industry. We talk about inspirations, equipment and tools, and how Tara takes these amazing digital designs and spins them into incredible album artwork pieces and clothing designs. Pictured are some examples of her, and our, favourite designs that she has produced, ranging from Lil Peep album cover designs, to exciting twists on our favourite animal crossing characters, to alternative Avenged Sevenfold merchandise designs.

When did you first get involved with the graphic design scene?

My whole life I have been interested in an artistic route but it was only until I chose my subjects at college that I was introduced to the Graphic Design department. With the world changing to be more digital, I was blown away by the fact that you can be creative digitally and I wanted this to be something I evolved over time. During college, I was experimenting with my styles of photography, illustration and digital distortion but only in the first lockdown, I was opened up to a whole new realm of Graphic Design; album artwork which is a huge part of Instagram.

What is your favourite and least favourite thing about the graphic design community?

Especially on Instagram, I find that so many artists are happy to answer questions, which helps you develop. Many artists also share assets that they use, which will help improve your own work. But my least favourite thing is it’s so competitive and it is a hard industry to get noticed in. This makes me always compare my work to other people and lack confidence in my designs, which is a huge setback.

Who inspires you?

I have a few different styles so there are a few different artists who inspire me. For my photography, it is definitely the British Fashion Photographer; Tim Walker. He makes a fantasy image come to life and he explores the weird and wacky side of fashion. I attended his V&A Exhibition in January 2020 and it took my breath away. An artist who inspires me in terms of graphic design is @flwrsandbones. She creates dark yet beautiful pieces of designs for bands and she has completely created a whole brand for herself, which would be a goal of mine.

What are you most proud of?

I think that I took the risk in the first lockdown to completely change up my Instagram. I saw what is trending and decided to change up my work. Even though my reach isn’t amazing, I feel as though my portfolio has got stronger. In terms of pieces that I have done, I’m most proud of my Bring Me The Horizon design for their song ‘Medicine’. This was such a different style for me but I love the colours and composition. 

How do your designs relate to fashion?

Music has always been a passion of mine. I completely immersed myself with it when I was younger and it has shaped who I am today. It influences my fashion choices every single day. I feel that even though my designs are based on music, they link to fashion through the use of what is trending whether it be a piece of typography or pattern. Ultimately, any band design is to advertise the band. It has to speak for them. Band designs develop into posters to then pieces of merchandise such as shirts or tote bags. I have recently adapted my work to fit this concept and show mock-ups of the designs on clothing, which puts them into a fashion perspective. 

What equipment or tools do you use?

When I began, I started with a Wacom drawing tablet that I could put in my laptop and use for Photoshop illustrations but as time went on and my passion for graphics developed, I knew I had to invest in something better quality. I purchased a Windows Surface Book 2, which has a detachable screen and a touchscreen with a pen, perfect for on the go design work and getting those intricate details. In terms of software, I use Photoshop and In Design to get precise layouts. 

What tips would you give to people wanting to start graphic design?

I would probably say to collect as many pinterest boards as you can! This really helps your inspiration, even later down in the line. It’s something I always refer to when I feel stuck for ideas and creativity. Also, I would produce a bunch of designs in one go, and stagger them across Instagram so that you are scheduling your uploads for the most reach! I do find it very competitive and it does get me down a lot as my work is never really noticed, but you have to just keep remembering why you are doing this and make things that you love and enjoy. That way, your work is pure and true.

What is your end goal?

My end goal is to earn business from my work. I do commission work here and there, but it is on and off due to my reach not being the best. I would love to create ‘Tara Larkin Art’ into its own brand and push my work onto existing bands, work with them and create art that I love but can also make a living from. That’s the dream. 

To conclude, I think it’s clear to see that Tara is an incredibly talented and driven graphic designer, and will be popping up all over the graphic design scene in no time! With this in mind, make sure to check out all of Tara’s work at https://taralarkinart.wixsite.com/taralarkinart for a deeper peak into the artistic style of Tara! Supporting local artists at a time like this can mean so much to someone, so share the love, even if it is with a like or share! It all adds up! For any further questions that you may have for Tara, feel free to message her on Instagram, so you can get an ever deeper insight yourself!

Written By Missy Bennett and Tara Larkin.