Shannon wants to add to her street cred

SHANNON WILCOX – USA

PACKAGING DESIGN SPECIALIST – LEVEL 5

I grew up in San Diego and had always dreamed about going to University of Colorado at Boulder. Beyond that, I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do career-wise. I graduated with a double-major in English & Political Science & was no closer to figuring it out when I decided to move to Austin, TX.

It was my first intro to working on creative social & digital campaigns which led me to looking at working for an agency. I got really lucky at my current agency, Ruckus, where I was hired as an Account Director even though I had no agency experience. One of my first projects was to manage the packaging design for an e-commerce diamond company. At the time we had never done a custom packaging project. Although there was a lot of trial and error, I discovered I had a natural knack for both the project management side of packaging design and coming up with the creative concepts. That was almost four and half years ago. Since then I’ve been promoted to Senior Account Director and head our Packaging Department as well as co-lead our Branding Department.

I’d like to have my own agency with a small team of senior designers that takes on a range of projects from hospitality design concepts to branding & packaging. I like working on each part of the branding process & hope to have an agency that acts as a highly-skilled one-stop shop.

I like the idea of creating something tangible in your hands that can showcase the story behind it. Packaging to me is the most direct & emotional way to connect with a consumer because they’re analyzing each piece as they unbox. You can really influence what a consumer’s perception of the brand is & the likelihood they will buy from you again in the future. I like the idea of having the consumer’s attention enough to present my vision & how all of the pieces fit together.

Since I don’t have a background in design or packaging, I wanted to take a course that would add to my street cred. This course included both design work & project management so I could work on improving my personal design skills while learning tangible lessons I could implement at work. I needed a program that would allow me to do self-paced so I could still do my day job which led me to Creative Design School.

I had been at my agency for a few years and was looking for a new way to challenge myself beyond my day to day at work. It gave me a sense of fulfillment to be working on something just for me & I really enjoyed learning how other agencies in the industry approach the creative process.

What I would say to anyone in a similar career position as me is to embrace being uncomfortable & don’t shy away from feedback. Especially if you’re moving into a new career outside of your background. Lean into having conversations with your coworkers / boss about where you could improve and look at these as an opportunity to learn rather than an opportunity for criticism. In my experience people really want to see you do well & help so understanding my weaknesses was the only way I could practice & get beyond them ( & I’m saying this as the girl who cried after her first year review so).

I think it is worth signing up for an online course like this one.  If anything to get you outside your current bubble of what you thought you knew. It’s always helpful to speak with someone whose been in the industry & can give you advice. I’ve really appreciated having a sounding board with my tutor not just about the course but also about work-related questions such as process & pricing.

What I am going to do now that I have completed this course besides ask for a raise? Kind of kidding. In the short-term, I’m going to be implementing a lot of the lessons I’ve learned in regards to process and get our team better organized & efficient. I’ve love take on more projects in new verticals like retail experience & in the sustainability space.

I really enjoyed the Sustainability module & creating eco-friendly designs for a laundry detergent. It was really interesting to learn how making a design ‘eco-friendly’ doesn’t just depend on the materials, but also about supporting elements like color palette & the amount of ink used. Simplifying my designs to fit within these boundaries helped me eliminate all the extra fluff & create designs that feel organic & natural.

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