Design Studio Partnerowner | Youth Central

Irwin, late 20s

"My experiences have inspired me to believe in myself, and taught me to not fear failing – what’s the worst that could happen? If a client says ‘no’ to an idea, you move on to the next idea or the next client!"

Where did your ICT career begin?

I guess it started when I was a kid. Back then, Josh and I both loved playing computer games, and now we work together in design and ICT – a perfect match really!

After high school I studied Computer Science and Information Systems at the University of Melbourne. I also wanted to follow my passion for media and communications, too, so I went on to get a Masters in Advertising from RMIT

I worked as an account executive and then an account manager at two major Melbourne advertising agencies. It was a valuable experience working with these big agencies – I was actually made redundant from my advertising job, but by that time I had worked out I could do exactly what the ‘big boys’  in advertising were doing, just on a smaller scale.

Irwin, what do you do?

I’m a founder and partner of Chromatix, a boutique web design and graphics studio. We design for print and online, and develop corporate branding materials for small-to-medium-size businesses. Our clients include property developers, architects, photographers, law firms, medical groups – even a local singer songwriter! Basically anyone who wants to promote themselves with strong visuals and fresh ideas.

I work with my business partner and childhood friend, Josh – I’m in charge of business development and design while Josh is senior web developer. My entrepreneurial and business skills are a perfect match for his technical skills.

What sort of projects do you work on?

There’s huge variety in our projects – we design and develop websites, create print designs and branding, and set up and manage photoshoots.

Right now I’m designing a t-shirt for a major sports event, and we’re also quoting for an international company that wants help designing their Australian website. We’re also often asked to help clients ‘re-brand’ their existing products – I’ll sit down with the client and brainstorm ideas and then create a new concept for them.

Can you describe a typical working day?

That’s a tough ask – variety is one of the reasons I love what I do! I’m in the office working on projects about 60 per cent of the time, and the rest of the time I’m out meeting new and existing clients.

When I’m in the studio I’ll most often be working with Photoshop, InDesign and Dream Weaver – obviously it depends on whether I’m manipulating a single image, or designing an entire new website.

Can you nominate an important point in your career?

While I was an RMIT student, I entered a design competition I saw in the back of mX newspaper. Privacy Victoria were looking for designers to interpret the word ‘privacy’. I submitted two designs, and ended up winning the competition. I pitched some other ideas to them, and they offered me some freelance design work which sparked my freelance career.

This whole experience inspired me to believe in myself, and taught me to not fear failing – what’s the worst that could happen? If a client says ‘no’ to an idea, you move on to the next idea or the next client!

What do you like most about your job?

I love the flexibility and freedom that comes with owning your own business. Also, I’m a real night owl, so being able to work my own hours, and start work later in the morning is great!

And again, the variety of the work I do is a huge plus – I love learning, and with my job I’m always learning about new technologies, marketing trends and new digital and social media.

What qualities have helped you get where you are?

I’m naturally curious, so I love keeping up to date with new technology and teaching myself new skills – I’m currently designing an iPhone app for fun (and learning a lot in the process).

I’ve also been very proactive about selling myself and my business. There are a lot of designers out there, so you have to build up a first-class portfolio and be smart about pitching yourself to new clients – from my personal experience, I would say 90 per cent of my business comes from word of mouth.

What advice would you give to someone considering a career in ICT?

You have to be passionate about what you do, and really ‘have a go’. As an example, I was pitching an idea to a prospective client and they asked me what I would change in my life if I won $1 million. I told them I probably wouldn’t change much at all, and that I would put most of the money back into growing my business. The client could see how passionate and energetic I was about my work, and I won the project.

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