Shafia hadn’t got a particularly strong idea of what she wanted to do as a career, but recalled from her time living in Italy, which is so well known for design, that she was impressed by how it could be used saying, “My parents wanted me to be a doctor or engineer like many Asian parents do, but they knew that I wouldn’t do that.” Seeing exterior signage on billboards around town especially around the famous Piccadilly Circus in central London with its many digital and neon signs, Shafia knew this was what she wanted to do. “When I first started in this field, I was really scared to stand up to my parents’ expectations especially when I was doing creative media. But when I won my student award all my fears vanished.”
Shafia puts down her commitment and success to the influence of the many women in her life who inspired her.
They taught me lessons I wasn’t able to learn from textbooks. One of the most inspiring women I ever met was my tutor Katie, I came across her at the stage of my life when everything was starting. She made me recognise my potential and I went on to meet many more inspiring people, they answered my questions and explained the things I was confused about.
Continuing to learn from people in industry Shafia’s current mentor is her boss, “She’s someone I really look up to, I so want to be like her. What I love about her is that she helps people like me to develop into the careers they have chosen. I used to do drawings and sketching but when I came here I decided I would do something more digital and I was also interested in illustration and animation.”
College was another inspiring experience for her, “Our teacher would give us a brief such as, this is the client, this is the problem, and this is what we need to do. Then we would have our design ideas done to present to her. She is grateful that she was given so many opportunities to break into the creative industry through a charity called Ideas Foundation, which helps students to start their careers and learn more about the industry. “I worked on projects with the BBC, I had to design a campaign to present to managers there which was an amazing experience. Then I did some work experience at Social Chain and Facebook London and I also had the rewarding opportunity of working with disabled people through Venture Arts as a designer of their 2022 calendar sold through their website and online stores.” All these opportunities have really helped Shafia become more confident, improving her communication and presentation skills and her teamwork too.
“I met so many people I made friends with and I forged links in the industry. So many people I’m in contact with now, somehow, I met them through my college. The more people you know, the more opportunities you get in your career. I work as a literature producer for the Manchester Museum, I also do freelance work and I’m a graphic designer. All three of my jobs are different and that’s cool. What I like in my museum job is that I have a team, we work together, we have fun. We plan to meet next week for the first time in a year.”
I like the teamwork, the freedom and my manager. For my freelance work it’s all me and the client, and for the graphic design job it’s me, my manager and the client. Because I do so many jobs, each week I focus on one at a time. I don’t want to mix things because then that’s messy for me. With the freelance work it really depends because you know when you have the client with you and so that’s when you can focus. The museum one is what I do most of the time. My other boss calls or messages me when she needs me and that’s how we work.
Shafia believes the most important asset you need to be successful is a never-give-up attitude. “You might fail when you start your career, but don’t let that be a barrier, it’s an acknowledgement to understand what you could have done better. You never know what’s ahead and having faith is what will keep you going. So, just be patient and try what you can.”
In the future Shafia wants to work on projects that are meaningful and beneficial to a cause regardless of what she might gain financially, “For instance what I am currently doing, I hope it inspires and is useful for young people.”