In Conversation with Jane Connory
Where do you work and what do you do?
I work at Swinburne University as a Communication Design Lecturer, where I’ve recently become Dr Jane!
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Dr Jane Connory has a PhD from Monash University, Art, Design and Architecture, which worked towards a gender inclusive history of Australian graphic design. She was awarded a Master of Communication Design (Design Management) with Distinction from RMIT in 2016 and has been a practising designer in the advertising, branding and publishing sectors, in both London and Melbourne, since 1997. She has also lectured in and managed communication design programs in both the VET and Higher Education sectors since 2005. Alongside her research exploring the visibility of women in design, she is currently a lecturer in Design Futures, Branding and Publication Design at Swinburne University of Technology.
What changes have you seen in the Graphic Design industry since starting out? The good, the bad and the ugly.
The good: The democratisation of design is a very good thing. The uptake of human-centred design, co-design and participatory design means old elitist processes are dying out and previously unheard voices are having a say.
The bad: The low levels of visibility for women in design haven’t changed much since the 1960s. Design awards and the design histories we are taught are often skewed by their internal structures to favour men. The huge numbers of women graduating from design qualifications across the world need to see more women to strengthen their own sense of self-efficacy.
The ugly: One of the ugliest developments I have seen in Australian graphic design is the development of cigarette packaging. The baby-poo green used on the boxes was chosen because of how disgusting it really is. The images of disease and gangrene are so ugly they’re brilliant. They have successfully contributed to lowering smoking rates in Australia since they were introduced in 2011.
How do you stay relevant in todays Graphic Design industry?
As an academic I have to research, write and engage in practice to stay relevant. I’ve just finished reading Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez. This author has collected and analysed data sets that are used to design medications, cars, disaster relief and government policies. What she has found is that most of this data is not segregated by gender and often ignores women completely. Women are more likely to die in car crashes than men because airbags are designed with the average male’s measurements in mind. Every designer has something to learn from this.
Tell us what you are currently working on?
I am currently working on an awesome event presented by the Creative Women’s Circle and supported by Swinburne, DRIVENx DESIGN and JOY94.9 to bring Debbie Millman, host of the worlds most downloaded design podcast Design Matters, to Melbourne in March. Keep your eyes pealed. You’ll get the chance to do branding workshops with her and her her interview some amazing Australian women in design.
What would your advice be to someone wanting to break into the Graphic Design industry in 2020?
Get a qualification, develop your design process, diversify your skills, understand how a business runs and most importantly build a network. You want to find people who can champion you and open doors for you but you also need people to mentor you through the tough decisions. This can be your teachers when you are a new graduate but you can also join an industry body (like AGDA or the DIA) to meet people you admire and hang out with them.
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