Interested in being on the show? Applications are now open.

Apply now

Josie Young: Staying Positive in Difficult Times

May 13, 2021

Josie Young

Season 2 Episode 2

This week Jens and Megan travel to Sydney, Australia to meet up with Award-winning Graphic Designer Josie Young. While it’s easy to focus on simply the negative aspects of our lives during such extreme and challenging times, our interview today will show you that even while things still aren’t how they used to be before the pandemic, we can remain positive, upbeat, and persevere to get us through anything that comes our way.

Josie has been featured on numerous podcasts, presented a variety of talks around the topics of inclusion and equality at The Design Conference, Adobe Symposium and Sydney Design Festival. She’s also worked on award-winning projects for the Australian Design Radio, Spotify, and Bell Shakespeare (just to name a few).

<iframe style="border-radius:12px" src="https://open.spotify.com/embed/episode/2bPfHHu2WKG0x9qYooOCOy?utm_source=generator" width="100%" height="352" frameBorder="0" allowfullscreen="" allow="autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; fullscreen; picture-in-picture" loading="lazy"></iframe>

Jens Bringsjord

You are listening to Design Atlas Season two.



Megan Luedke

For many designers, the pandemic has taught us far too many lessons lessons about who we are, what we're good at, and yes, even the things we need to work on. While it's easy to focus on simply the negative aspects of our lives during such extreme and challenging times, our interview today will show you that even while things still aren't how they used to be before the pandemic, we can remain positive, upbeat and persevere to get us through anything that comes our way.



Megan Luedke

In today's episode, we meet Josie Young, freelance visual and graphic designer based in Sydney, Australia. Upon graduating, she worked the past five years at an agency called Christopher Doyle and CO, which was founded by designer Christopher Doyle himself.



Jens Bringsjord

Josie has been featured on numerous podcasts, presented a variety of talks on the topics of inclusion and equality at the design conference, Adobe Symposium and Sydney Design Festival. She's also worked on award winning projects for the Australian Design Radio, Spotify and Bell Shakespeare. As an active member of the Australian Graphic Design Association, she has most recently participated on the Junior Council of the organization.



Megan Luedke

Without further ado, let's grab that cup of coffee. Fasten your seat belt and let's navigate our design atlas to Josie's apartment in Sydney, Australia.



Josie Young

I think not doing design like legitimately taking proper breaks and doing anything but inspires me. Hi, I'm dirty and I'm an independent designer living in Sydney, Australia. I live on Gadigal country, which is the land of the radical people of New York. A nation I'd like to acknowledge that I live in work on stolen land. This land always has been and always will be operational and throughout my career so far, I've worked with a bunch of great people like the team at the Super Deutschland car and Catch Up Partners.



Josie Young

In my free time I like to garden, rearrange my boss and overthink.



Megan Luedke

Even though Josie may not have had the urban city life with the hustle and bustle of an aspiring designer during her childhood, she certainly was creative at heart.



Josie Young

I definitely was always a creative kid, and I think a lot of designers say this and that was definitely encouraged in me throughout my whole childhood. I grew up in a little country town, so throughout the school, access to design classes wasn't really a thing. But really, I look back at assignments and I've been through kind of like my art classes and I was always really trying to make them look pretty and things like that, which is also a really common trope in the young designer at heart.



Josie Young

But I don't know, I don't think anything grand really inspired me to become a designer.



Megan Luedke

Josie learned at a very young age the impact design had on her surroundings. In grade four, she learned how to create an alternative reality using both the digital and print mediums.



Josie Young

I feel like the funniest example of like small me making things and like I guess you can call it designer is I think in the fall when I had access to like a computer that I made what I called at the time and that same called like totally hot or something. And I used to write little articles about variations going on in school and I found pictures on the internet and then I used to sell it at school.



Josie Young

There was a little magazine called Total Girl or something, and I was just obsessed with magazine covers and the kind of chaos on them. I mean, I wouldn't have said that at the time. I just liked them. Yeah. And I got in trouble at school because I wrote an article about my teacher having passed away and I, like somehow edited a photo of a gravestone with her name on it.



Josie Young

Awful, awful child of me. But I just, like, leant into things like that from a young age.



Jens Bringsjord

After completing high school, Josie went on to study graphic design and visual arts at the University of Wollongong, which is an Australian research university located 80 kilometers or about 50 miles south of Sydney. The university has around 32,000 students and about 2400 faculty and staff members.



Josie Young

William Gong is a I would call it a sea being from where I grew up. But now that I live in a city, I wouldn't call it a city anymore. It's like an in-between point. Yeah, it's. It's it's a great little place with a great university. And I went there for three years and did a Bachelor of Creative Arts.



Josie Young

I started with a double major and visual arts and graphic design, and I ended up switching to the graphic design major. Graduated from there in 2015. And I've been working in the design industry since.



Jens Bringsjord

During Joseph's final year at university, she founded a brand agency in the local area. And while she had her eye on working there after the internships commenced, she soon realised this wasn't where she wanted to end up. Long term.



Josie Young

I'm I think it's good to kind of talk openly and honestly about things like these because it just helps people learn. But I interned at Frost, which is a big kind of branding agency. They also now do web and environmental. They do incredible work. It was kind of the pinnacle for me of where I wanted to work while I was at uni.



Josie Young

I was really lucky. I landed an internship there, which was a three month full time internship. That's how they run whatnot, and they only pay expenses, which in hindsight I'm like, That's really bad. So that's one of my issues. I don't know if that's changed since then, but I couldn't do that because I was on my uni, right?



Josie Young

So I'd negotiated to only go for a month and like the people were like, that's not what the problem was. It was for me personally, it was the big agency thing. So really I'm glad I did it because it really kind of like shook me out of this, really didn't go. I had an only really wanting to work at a place like that when their job ads with Chris came up, having seen him speak like a guest lecturer and having kind of been familiar with his work and knowing that he ran a small studio, it was that opposite sort of like environment that really I guess attracted me to the idea of working.



Jens Bringsjord

Josie began her design career fresh out of university with landing a job at the prestigious Christopher Doyle and CO in Sydney, Australia. While she can certainly attribute her skills for helping her get noticed as a young designer. It was networking that really helped make an impact to landing the job.



Josie Young

So I worked at this for just over five years. It was my first job out of uni like Chris had been straight out of uni, so I ended up there. It's a bit of one of those like, you know, stories. So one of my uni lecturers, Grant Elmer's, used to take Chris back in the day. He had Chris come down and do a guest lecture for us in our final year of uni.



Josie Young

And then I was part of the community organizing out graduation show and we needed a guest speaker and I would grant organized Chris to come down for that. Chris was advertising for junior designer and it was someone with like at least three years experience. And I consider Grant. I'm like, should I apply for this team out? Chris Like I've got this like student graduating maximum so by 30 and Chris was like, oh no, probably not, but like she can do an application anyway.



Josie Young

And I was like, Oh. And I did anyway. And then Chris and I met at the grad show, and then we had coffee and kind of like a bit of an informal interview not long after. And then he offered me a job as a trainee designer. So it was kind of like a combination of meeting someone via somebody else and then making an impression and applying for the job and doing things like the traditional landing with, Oh.



00;09;20;23 - 00;09;49;03

Megan Luedke

Christopher Doyle is an internationally recognized designer. He has worked with some of Australia's leading brand and design agencies and his work has won numerous local and international awards. He has also made written contributions to Desktop Magazine Design Assembly, Australian Creative and Process Journal. Christopher Doyle started his studio, Christopher Doyle and CO 13 and works for a diverse range of clients specializing in brand identity and art direction.



Megan Luedke

And also, maybe one day we'll get to have him on the show.



Josie Young

He is a really well-known and well-loved designer in Australia. He has spoken at all the events. Joyce's famous designers are like famous dentists, which is such a good analogy. I think he is so well, well known in Australia and I guess around the world. Insane because he's just a genuinely good day.



Megan Luedke

Here's Christopher Doyle speaking at a Riding for design conference hosted by the D and Ady Awards back in 2012.



Josie Young

From a writing perspective, his writing that he's just writing, you know, the writing that actually hasn't made any kind of leap to be anything other than just standard everyday language. And it's there's a few pieces in there that that are that communicate, that are well written, that are just that are just every day, you know. And then that's not to suggest that it's bad writing, but it's not suggesting that it's writing that is taking language forward or presenting language in a way that's really, really interesting.



Josie Young

So just the kind of standard everyday stuff I think there is. I think designers often think if they put a lot of words into a into a piece, then it's a then it's a writing for design entry which, which I guess it is. But it's also got to be much more than that. You know, it's got to be writing that feels new and writing that feels progressive and different. Surprising. Yeah.



Josie Young

I predict knowing so much and learning so much. Just him giving everything he knows. Okay. He's been the best kind of mentor to have ideas for my career and.



Jens Bringsjord

Once Josie arrived at her new role at Christopher Doyle and CO in Sydney, she progressed quickly, taking part in a variety of projects with the clients. Her tests were varied from project to project. She managed schedules, communicated with the developers, as well as conceptualized brand identities and campaign visuals with the clients among a variety of other activities.



Josie Young

So like I started out working straight away on writing projects right from the beginning, through to all of the end final pieces. So for example, the very first project I worked on was the branding of the Australian podcast, Australian Design, right? That was a really fun project to work on. And then we did all of the campaign work for the Australian Chamber Orchestra.



Josie Young

So working on that, these impressions and also ad campaigns, it's like that. And then all the small business planning that came through the doors, I got to really stick my fingers right into. So the kind of vision set up, the team set up for the first three months it was just Christian. I only had like another freelancer, Diana in and then Stephen, the other designers started and then it was just Dave in person I for about three years and the three of us just if anything came across that we we thought we could figure out and do, we're just not going to do that.



Josie Young

And we we often worked with other small agencies, whether they were kind of motion or video or people around Sydney. And yeah, we just did as much as we put ourselves in the plot, we could only work with other people on and it was great. So in the, in the kind of last couple of years as well, I've been directing and producing suits and, and all of that kind of marketing campaigns in Australia.



Josie Young

So I was project managing that as well as doing website design and working with web developer and actually doing the creative work like copywriting for campaigns for Spotify and stuff like that as well. And this was a small, small agency we took on Spotify. Yeah, it's really good. Like, I look back, I mean, I, I cast my gaze over the last five years.



Josie Young

That's what I mean. And it's a lot. And I'm very grateful to have been given the opportunity to just have a crack at it all and.



Megan Luedke

For Josie, the mini work to be Australian Graphic Design Association or AGD, as it is known, was a frequent task. After successfully completing a project at Christopher Doyle and CO Josie and the team won numerous awards.



Josie Young

It's a it's a whole process to enter a project, so you have to kind of get the case studies together and write, you know, project muscles and all of that. 2018 was a really fun year. FOSTER Award show was held down in Melbourne and we, we just had a lot of fun, nice work and we were really like lucky to come away with a few awards, including the Studio and the Year Award, which was just really lovely.



Josie Young

We're just happy, just really, really happy. And yeah, I won the inaugural Emerging Designer of the Year award that year as well, which we forgot was even happening. I didn't even know I'd been nominated for it. And it was at a weird point in the night where like all of the awards finished being announced and we're all kind of sitting at the table chatting, and then they announced it and we were all like, What the heck?



Josie Young

And then I had to give a speech, so and I just got up on stage and I was like, What the fuck I do? Because I was like, Oh, like I didn't really even know what to say, but it was just like it was just really nice. One of the end of the night with my friend carpool. And so she got me to write the letter in the space to intro it.



Josie Young

So that was like a nice little extra touch as well. And yeah, it was just, it was just like a nice thing.



Jens Bringsjord

Putting the celebration and awards aside, Josie also took part as a volunteer for the Junior Council with an actor while she took the volunteer role to bring a greater representation of young and aspiring designers to the national scene. She noticed some concerning things happening around her.



Josie Young

I did in the last couple of years as copped a lot of flak, and deservedly, in my opinion, around just how they run certain things and cost certain events. Students and membership. It's an awards and things like that, and I do think they are making an effort to change and I hope that the change does happen. There was also that that attitude of maybe I can change things from the inside, but also I couldn't really there was a lot of kind of like brick walling happening in certain areas and a lot of the ways that we've seen things kind of happen throughout 2020, you know, certain kind of angles and diversity and and recognition of



Josie Young

of people other than, you know, white men, designers did I kid I kid. I don't I too have gone quiet a little bit. And I do think there are changes happening. I think it's going to be really interesting to see how that goes over the next couple of years when organizations and people are called out on things. And I think they have really been.



Josie Young

And it's interesting to see when people and organizations are given the space to just like stay part of it and then hopefully they reemerge a little better.



Jens Bringsjord

Josie is well aware of the exploitation of the design interns throughout the industry, usually spurred upon by large companies. The goal of these businesses is to get as many interns as possible, usually to take on junior level design work and thus reducing their overhead and general employment costs.



Josie Young

It's bad and a lot of the time the companies go in. It's a big and they've got the money and they're just turning through interns off the interns then not actually really interested in teaching anyone anything or like mentoring anyone. They just need the kind of like groundwork done and that's crappy. I feel really strongly about that because I just think that that the whole interns sort of like Rite of passage is just accepted and that from a socioeconomic standpoint just means that people who can afford to do internships for extended periods of time get ahead and those that can't afford that done and that trickles down into so many other factors of who you are and what you come from. And it just creates the divide and and it just continues to kind of drive it further. Somebody whose parents can pay their rent for them can afford to do an internship, three months unpaid. Somebody who needs to work part time to make rent and buy groceries can't afford to do that. So therefore they miss out and they miss that.



Josie Young

And they miss out again and again. I guess I also have been a part of too many conversations where it's really evident that people are just being left out intentionally of opportunities that they can absolutely be included in, that can feel like there's always room for inclusion of like one on one people, on projects or teams or whatever.



Josie Young

And I don't know, I just think that sometimes people can be very like self driven, self focused and not kind of look around the room like, okay, who else can be part of this? You know, can learn and have a good time here.



Megan Luedke

We all love breaks on the beach with that nice, cool drinking wine and relaxing in the sun and enjoying that warm, warm breeze on our skin. This is the life that so many times we as designers don't let ourselves take breaks. We stay up all night working hard on our projects until we can't keep our eyes open anymore.



Megan Luedke

That's burnout. And burnout is the enemy of all great design. For Josie, taking breaks is the key. Keep her inspired and enjoy what she does best.



Josie Young

Design, I think not doing design like legitimately taking proper breaks and doing anything by design. I've had to take a lot, of course, time off last couple of years and I've found that I always come back more amped up to do stuff. So I kind of have taken that forward and I still am like in a space where I have to take full breaks.



Josie Young

I'm just trying to kind of like see the silver lining in it in that, okay, like I have to just take a day off today because I've got no choice but to rest rather than push myself through and then go out for a longer period of time. I find that when I visit my hometown and just like go for a drive and just like read and that's just like little things.



Josie Young

And I feel like they all involve switching off. And then obviously the typical like looking at design blogs and and watching design talks and things like that. But I do feel like genuinely like if I switch off, that's when I kind of like my brain is like, okay, like we got this, this is good. I think if I sit too long and try and kind of like force myself to be creative, then I just start all myself a journal every morning.



Josie Young

But just the type where you don't really think about it too much. I do two pages every single morning and if I do it, I feel like I've put stuff down and then I'm like free to just write.



Jens Bringsjord

Right before our interview, Josie ended her time at Christopher Doyle and CO after working there for the past five years, she's now turned her attention to getting into freelance work and is at a new stage in her life where she can work with her own clients and on her own projects.



Josie Young

Luckily, I've been quite open about moving on. I was kind of looking at other roles or popping up, but I've had the idea in my head of going freelance for a little while, going into a bit of a trial and error territory of freelancing by doing a bit of a schedule where I and part time working a little bit and going into the kind of like freelance contract work with various agencies and studios, I'm really keen to kind of work with a bunch of different teams and on a bunch of different projects and kind of I guess, branding campaign.



Josie Young

And I'm excited just to kind of like meet a bunch of different people and try a bunch of different projects and team setups and things like that. And I think in our industry we're really lucky to be able to have that sort of flexibility and have the kind of freelance capacity to to do that. Also, just kind of like small writing projects just to work on on my own.



Josie Young

Yeah, I'm not really like going to the planet too, aside from knowing that I don't want to be too busy.



Megan Luedke

While Josie hasn't travelled internationally, she has delved into the Internet to inspire her and see what's happening within the design scene in various other countries.



Josie Young

I mean, obviously we live in the age of the Internet. You know, she influences everything, but travel doesn't really necessarily come into it because design is so well documented online. And I do think I keep relatively up to date with things that are happening in the design world around the world. But I just think it's just not that different around the world and it's not that different in Australia from elsewhere and like maybe it was at one point, but I do think the internet probably changed that significantly and I do think that the internet means that creativity is just again, subject to, I guess, the winds of globalization.



Josie Young

You know, there's incredible stuff happening all over the world. But what's really nice sometimes and it's like a little proud global moment, it's like you see something incredible sometimes I'll just assume that it's done somewhere in Europe or America, and then I realize it's like done in Melbourne or like Brisbane and I'm like, Wow. Like, not that I think people in Australia are capable of that, but I do think that the internet has just made, you know, styles and trends, just anyone looking.



Jens Bringsjord

The pandemic has stretched itself to all corners of the world. While Josie was able to continue working during the height of the pandemic, just like many of us. She, too, has had to change the way she works.



Josie Young

Pandemic are really kind of without a word. In March of last year, that's kind of when it hit its peak and we went into a form of lockdown. Lockdown that's different everywhere. I think in a month or two it was, you know, to leave the house, houses essential reasons, like your daily walk, grocery shop, but you're not allowed to sit in a park if the car before you while you're walking around like you have to have a real reason for it.



Josie Young

Takeaway shops were still open so you could go get a coffee. It was very like strict and everyone was working from home. That lasted a couple of months, like the really strict rules. And then it started easing off a bit and we could go back into the office, but we all took our time with it. I personally stayed working from home a bit longer because I am immunocompromised.



Josie Young

I just kind of kept near in case I was here. Anyone going to the office, you had to get public transport. So I was quite scared about that. Then when the kind of transition back into the office happened because of my chronic pain and chronic illness, I chatted with my boss about doing one day and one day at home because it was actually really working for me.



Josie Young

It was obviously frickin stressful to begin with and everyone was just like, What is going on? But I got better. Just not getting bogged down in the day to day stress because I was like, I've kept my job and really fortunate that I'm still working. And yeah, I don't know. It's like we need to look back at last year and I obviously had my moments like everyone.



Josie Young

Likewise, I just missed stuff like I couldn't visit my family and then I couldn't go and look for another spike in cases. And Sydney kind of went into another version of lockdown where it's just been a journey. But you know, it's the first time in the world, in my opinion. I'm like, This sucks. And then I'm like, But it's so literally everyone's like, everyone's in it.



Josie Young

So it's kind of like, not in a way. It's just very, it's like not just me. It's like. Like you grow opportunity, but devastation.



Megan Luedke

As we think about the past and ponder the future. We as designers have seen a massive change in the way we work. This may have felt more alone or alienating for many of us than ever before. Change is inevitable, and adaptation is the key to a happy and fulfilling life. Which design?



Josie Young

I think I've learned to kind of like trust myself more. I feel like just we have it all. Quick questions at any point during the day. I've just had to be better at making decisions on my own than I think I am. I guess progressed in certain areas more because of that. And it's kind of like in in venturing out on my own now, I feel more confident in certain areas, but in the fact because of last year, I am not going to hold myself to strong need to plan because stress very much then genuinely knocked me out digitally.



Josie Young

So I am really just trying to like wake up and have a nice time and take each day come in. I'm like, what's your five year plan? And like, I just like, laugh. I'm just like you. The fuck knows? Like, what's my five day plan? Five minute plan, like? But I hope that I'll have a nice time meeting nice people, make some nice work.



Megan Luedke

We hope you join us next Thursday as we travel to Amsterdam, Netherlands, to meet up with freelance graphic designer Juli Amore. Want us to remind you of when the next episode comes out. Simply subscribe to our email updates by visiting design atlas pod dot com.



Jens Bringsjord

To find out more about Josie Young, we've included her Instagram and website links in the show notes. We definitely recommend you check them out.



Megan Luedke

Also, don't forget to join us for our next episode by subscribing to the show and leaving a positive review. We really appreciate it. To learn more about Design Atlas and to sign up for updates, visit our website at Design Atlas podcast. If you want to get in touch with us or have a topic idea for our next episode, feel free to send us an email at Hello Design Atlas Podcast or DM us on Instagram at Designer Hotspot. Thanks for listening. I'm Meghan Luedke.



Jens Bringsjord

And I'm Jens Bringsjord.



Have a show topic in mind?

We’re always on the look for new and exciting ideas.

What will you bring to the show?

Sign up for our newsletter.

Join the Design Atlas newsletter for additional design resources and to stay in the loop. Don't miss out. If you don’t subscribe, you’ll never know.

©2021-2024 Design Atlas Podcast. All Rights Reserved.

Created with love in Barcelona, Spain and Los Angeles, CA.