"Doing graphic designs gives me a wholesome feeling of purpose", Paula Hartwig Johansson - Graphic Designer
I started exploring designing 11 years ago when I was 13 years of age.
I am always passionate about anything that has to do with arts, and that includes graphic designing, creative arts, to even performing arts which led to me being involved in doing dancing and a bit of theatre work as well. I've always been an art person growing up; I've always occupied my free time with drawing/sketching.
However, later in the years, I found out how to explore more of my artistic skills on a computer. Learning to do art on a computer was natural for me because I fell in love with doing it. Ever since I started graphic designing on a computer, I’ve been glued till today. Anyhow, throughout the years, I've been learning and trying to perfect my craft and I highly believe I'm at a level where I'm satisfied with where I'm at.
Today, I like to design a lot of things for people. I design clothing's, billboards, banners, business cards, handbook covers, and many more. I am currently working at MOT Enterprises Ltd, and I do this type work for them (Figure 2).
Eleven years later from when I started, I now feel confident with the skills that I hold with designing. I feel ready than ever, the knowledge and skills that I have are all that I need. I am currently selling my services on the side, but the goal one day is to do design work full time.
The only thing I know I need right now is the right qualifications for graphic designing. Unfortunately, there are no such qualifications offered here in Tonga for graphic designing. In spite of that, the closest that is offered is Information Technology (IT) hence why currently I am also taking courses of it at the Tupou Tertiary Institute (TTI). All of this combined, with work and school, are building blocks towards my dream of building a brand of graphic designing.
Nonetheless, it’s quite challenging trying to balance my time management with everything going on around me. I’m occupied with work, school and also trying to manage my side hustle as well. It's a challenge for me to tackle. Even so, I'm focused more on finishing my studies and then start working fully towards my goal.
Recently, I've charged people for my design services. The reason behind it is because throughout the years when you've been doing designing for a while and when you've been doing it for other people; I’ve always been the person ‘behind the scenes’ through it all. I’ve done graphic works for the government in the past, as well as big names here in Tonga, such as Tonga Communication Cooperation (TCC)(See Figure 3), Tonga Red Cross Society (TRCS)(See Figure 4), and many more.
I’ve always been hidden with what I do and others would use my work of design and get the credit for it. I wasn’t selling my services then, but now that I’ve put value to my skills and knowledge of graphic designing, I charge people for it.
Nonetheless, my driving force with what I love to do would be the passion and the enjoyment I consume when I create art. Sometimes, I would look at newspapers or others designs here in Tonga and would notice that it's not up to standard. I find it motivating for me, personally because, I know in Tonga, we can do better and reach that certain level of quality graphic designs. One day, I want to see Tonga reach that great level. I know we are capable of it here but we just lack the right guidance from the right people.
So far, in terms of graphic designing here in Tonga, we're evolving, but not yet up to bar as I can see. In spite of that, when I reach my goal of developing a graphic designing brand, I wish to coach or teach those that are interested in that field of work. Our people are talented, we can train them and that's also a driving force for me with what I'm doing. I want to showcase that we're capable of creating quality graphic designs; we don’t always have to ask Fiji or other foreign countries to do the designing for us here in Tonga.
Additionally, what’s rewarding for me it’s simply the opportunity to create and express myself through digital media. Second to that, is helping people bring their ideas to life. Doing graphic designs gives me a wholesome feeling of purpose (See Figure 1-13).
However, I want to let youths who are thinking or already evolving in business know, that you will come along a lot of obstacles along every journey but don't let that stop you. That's just how life works, you get thrown into situations you wouldn't want to be in but you have to adapt to whatever environment life throws at you.
Learn to grow where you’re planted. With whatever situations or wherever you are in life, learn to adapt and grow from it. That’s how you can get somewhere in life, you have to grow through situations in which you’re not comfortable in. You have to do the work as well, you have to do the hard yards, there’s no such thing as shortcuts. So just suck it up, count your blessings, and pull through if you really want what you want.
To sum it all up, my advice for youths would be to ‘don’t rush’. Take time to do your research, network with people that’s in the line of field you’re in, and invest in your skills. Take time to learn and perfect your craft. Also, get into a 9-5 job so you can learn and understand how businesses function.
Over and above that, you either commit 100% to what you want to do, if you’re not 100% committed, then there’s no use. It’s either you’re 100% in or you’re not. Most importantly, you have to take risks. Personally, I’ve always been a shy person and that was one of the factors that used to hold me back. I later learned to break out of that by interacting with people and just throwing my services out there so that people are aware of it.
Don’t be afraid, but most of all, just BELIEVE in what you do.