Career Growth

Carla Palette on Being a Resilient Designer Whilst Being Herself

Brand Designer and Art Director Carla Pallete had a very easygoing and honest chat with us about her persistence to find her own identity and her love for typography, design, and art direction – and how she strives to stay relevant in an evolving industry. 

“I started out getting work that would give me experience and get my foot in the door professionally, but very quickly I realized my design style and approach was not the right fit for certain types of clients and personality types”, she affirms. “Working within agencies with a strong focus on unprogressive, conservative brands who are not willing to change or move forward, are not the types of clients that allow me to do my best work or make an impact that doesn’t feel like a cookie cutter solution. Those were, however, the first five years of my career and how I started my practice.” 

We can all agree that an important part of improving your skills in both typography and design is to keep working your way through, practicing as much as possible, and getting more experience. After all, both persistence and resilience keep you moving forward within the creative industry. 

“It became very clear to me that I wasn’t a suitable fit for brands that wanted to play on the safe side and are not willing to take risks to improve or redefine their brand presence. During that time period, I began to question whether I was meant to be in the design industry at all, as most of my work was being met with a lot of corporate push back” she says. 

This false start in the design world ultimately pushed her to redefine herself as a designer, build her own brand essence and move into the freelance world, where she could have more control over the types of brands she worked with. The craving to define her own rules caused by the constant pushbacks motivated Carla to start her freelancing career shortly after leaving the corporate world.

“The most valuable thing I learned throughout this process was that you attract the work that you put out into the world. If you don’t want corporate, conservative work, then don’t put that in your portfolio. If you want to attract fashion work, then put that in your portfolio. I’m not for everyone and especially not for every brand, and I’ve learned to make peace with that. To start building a portfolio of work that I actually wanted to attract more of, I needed to start by doing a lot of passion projects outside full-time hours. Once I started to build that and attract like-minded clients, I was able to pursue freelance full-time”

“I think typography can speak for itself in a way”

Now she has her very own identity, where she puts a strong emphasis on producing work with disruptive typography. “I think I always had a passion for disruption and controversy.  This idea of controversy might not be so left of the field in 2022, but actually, a pre-requisite for brands to stay relevant in a very overpopulated world. But as time moves on, so does the social landscape of the world –  which has become a lot more socially politically charged these days – and brands need to follow this movement to stay relevant and not alienate or piss off a very politically charged generation,” she completes. 

When it comes to her typography choices, she believes typography can speak for itself. 

“I believe each typeface has been specifically designed to convey a certain feeling. So in a way, typography can speak for itself. I do tend to lean towards bolder typefaces as they can be quite suitable for the styles of brands I work best with. 

While talking about finding her creative persona, she agrees that it can take some time – a lot of resilience, introspection, and hustle. “I do believe with every client that you are able to make a positive impact on, you do get more confidence to push the envelope even further with the next client. When I left these previous agencies I was feeling quite like lost and questioning myself a lot… like, why am I not the type of designer that can easily adapt to any client? Then slowly over time, it seemed that my personal branding started to work in my favor. The passion projects I had put out into the world were starting to attract clients and brands that I actually wanted to work with and consequently put off the wrong kinds –  which suited me”. 

Carla has worked with clients such BUNA, a limited edition Sicilian boutique whiskey sour brand; OMNISM, a boutique Amsterdam-based of pre-mixed cocktail; Mort & Max, an Australian CBD sparkling water; August Skin Care, bringing a proven hassle-free skincare routine; and many more. “Once suitable brands started to approach me, I finally thought: ok, maybe I’m not such an inadequate designer, but I’m definitely not going to be for everyone. It’s just important to always be careful about which brands I take on to actually have an impact on my work, actually have a positive impact on the brand, and ensure that I have valuable work in my portfolio.”

"Typographic posters as a creative outlet."

However polarising or controversial she may be, Carla still has her own creative outlet to produce work that doesn’t need to appease anyone else’s specific needs or wants. This allowed the Designer to showcase work in more of an artistic way, that wasn’t striving to solve a design problem and gave her a space where she has the freedom to express her creativity without boundaries.

“The posters are definitely a creative outlet where I could get some passive income without having to design for someone else. Sometimes I feel like I’m more of an artist thrust into a commercial space”, she affirms between laughs. 

Her series of digital prints available on Etsy and physical prints available on Drool Art is mostly a mix of minimalistic, and yet loud typography expressions – just like she wanted to be. “I’d say my style within my print design is a bit of a juxtaposition between loud and minimalistic, maybe? Trying to find the balance there.”

Her expression through typography in personal collections will continue soon. “I am hoping to release another collection of more prints soon – more personal and expressive collections.”

If you would like to reach Carla out for a project, access her online portfolio and her Instagram page for more contact, and to keep up with the new releases.