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A Q&A with a Communication Designer

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Do you have a passion for design and problem-solving and want to make a career out of it? Find out how Barbara-Anne took her passions and made a career out of it with Communications Design.

Sometimes we take things for granted. We laze around on our couches watching TV, we spend hours browsing the internet and we walk through life expectant of what we see around us. Everything that we see – on the internet, TV, social media, objects in the mall, etc – are all forms of communication.

How? A retailer or service provider wants to communicate with you in  non-direct way to visit their store or purchase their product. A company wants to grab your attention so that you visit their website and not their competitors. Good advertising and communication will lead you to believe that it was your idea to visit that website and submit and enquiry or to purchase that product.

Good communication and design is now what is keeping the world going and the economy strong. It would definitely be worth the time and effort to further understand what it means to be a good communicator in the world of design and advertising.

A Q&A with Communication Designer Barbara-Anne van Wyk

Barbara-Anne van Wyk graduated from Open Window Institute with a BA Visual Communication with a major in Communication Design. She took Mathematics, Additional Mathematics, Science, Biology, Art 1 and Art 2 as her chosen matric subjects. Of these, Mathematics and Art was compulsory for studies at OWI. After dabbling in the corporate world, she now freelances and is thriving in her creative element.

What was the focus of your qualification? How did it prepare you for future careers in your field?

I believe the course focused on a combination of technical skill and critical thinking, both of which were helpful in the workplace.

What were the top 5 skills you learnt throughout your course?

  • Research
  • Software skills (not so much specific software packages as how to assimilate tools and knowledge about them)
  • People skills
  • Technical precision
  • Speed.

How was the workload, and the ration of academic and practical work? 

The workload was quite intense. I worked my way through university and struggled to attend classes on time, but won awards for subjects I did manage to commit to. Work was usually practical with an academic basis. Theory/written work was minimal.

What kind of careers can someone with this degree go into?

Graphic design, web design, art direction, layout, etc.

What kind of salary can someone expect from those kind of careers, or in case of freelance rates, at what do they currently average?

Starting salaries range from R8Kpm-R15Kpm and mid-senior salaries range from R20Kpm-R40Kpm. Freelance rates sit at around R450 per hour.

To what extent did you feel prepared to enter the working world in your field?

I got my first full-time job in second year, and do feel Open Window Institute helped in terms of preparing me for that.

Do you have a current online portfolio or platform to showcase your work?

I have a personal website combined with Behance.

What advice do you have for students wanting to do this course or go into this profession?

Constantly assess your priorities.

What drew you to studying this course?

It seemed interesting and energetic.

Are there many positions available in this field?

I believe so.

Where do you see the future of this course/field going?

Product design, communication design and UX will take priority. Research will (hopefully) trump subjective assessment and concept work will become more global.

What would you say is the best part about the job you are pursuing?

I have control over my time and my priorities.

What does your job look like?

I draw pictures and make things move on the internet. Sometimes I work for magazines.

What was the biggest risk you ever took and what did you learn from it?

I quit my full-time job and learned that dependence on a single employer is detrimental to the quality of one’s work.

Open Window Institute (OWI)

The School of Design Studies at OWI opens up many possibilities and opportunities for aspiring designer minds. If Graphic Design is something you could see yourself doing, why not browse through their courses and see if any interest you.

EduConnect 2cents

The world of design is huge. There are seemingly endless options out there. Despite the stereotypes – you can make a success out of your design career. Just choose a good institution to study at and work hard at your portfolio. You can take your passion for creativity and design and turn it into a career!

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