When Going Back to School Doesn’t Mean Going Backwards

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For this designer, it meant an entirely new career path.

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Cass, of Cass Deller Design, is nesting in her newly renovated studio. “I’m starting to put things on the walls,” says the graphic artist and mother to toddler Eddie, bursting with inspiration. “It’s so simple, but for me, I’m like, ‘Yep, I’m ready to go again!’”

This wasn’t always so. A born creative, Cass flung herself fresh out of high school into an interior design course and, a handful of design firms later, landed at the helm of retail design for Westfield. You could say she had it made – maybe.

“I was literally just going to a corporate nine-to-five, Monday to Friday,” says the Brisbane-born Sunshine Coaster, whose artistic flair was daily being relegated to spreadsheets. “I was getting over it and was really uninspired.”

So, adding night classes at Shillington to her weekly calendar, Cass rekindled her creative passions and designed a new career for herself.

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I always had a passion for graphic design. I kept my full-time job and studied at Shillington at night, and battled my way through that year. Honestly, from the second I started I was like, ‘Yep, this is it.’ I was 29 and like, ‘Holy crap, I’ve finally found what I’m meant to be doing!’

My teacher was Alischa Herrmann from Bespoke Letterpress. She offered me a job at the end [of the course] designing their wedding stationery. I [gave] Westfield their notice, and essentially became a freelance graphic designer, working for Bespoke Letterpress part-time.

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Going freelance scared the hell out of me. But it was an awesome, just throw-yourself-in-the-deep-end [experience]. Working for Bespoke Letterpress part-time gave me something to start off with and I was able to build clients up on the side. Eighteen months later, I had enough full-time clients myself.

I started doing my own wedding stationery, and had a real point of difference by incorporating water-coloured illustration, as well as hand-lettering. The illustration side gained attention from fashion labels and people who wanted packaging designed.

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I’ve collaborated with Postcard Swimwear, Sets of Seven swimwear and One&Only Hayman Island – I designed scarves and sarongs for their VIP guests last Christmas and project-managed the entire thing, which was a learning curve.

My advice is run your own race. I’ve always loved that saying. Try not to compare yourself to other people and keep doing what you’re doing.

Erin

What a great read! I threw myself into a 3 year bachelor of Graphic Design last year at the age of 29 . Its hard to not feel like you are taking a step back when all your friends and getting married and buying houses etc… but after a month at uni I just knew I had found my calling. It has been a long time coming but such a relief.
While I am still not 100% on where I want to go once I graduate its great fun to have a play with ideas while I am still studying and have a little more spare time.
It is never to late to study.

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