Design Graduate's 3 Keys to Success: Shyness & Happiness + Talent

Byron Bay

6 Nov 2017




Design Graduate's 3 Keys to Success: Shyness & Happiness + Talent

6 Nov 2017

As a child, Emma Terrens was the quiet one — as the story of many successful creatives begins. While her siblings ran about rambunctiously, Emma was inside drawing and writing, first on paper before getting into technology. After many years building up her confidence as a waitress at her parents’ restaurant on the Gold Coast, now, she spends her days dreaming up and designing campaign elements for a cadre of prestigious clients at the full time gig she landed before graduating from SAE Byron Bay with a Bachelor of Design in 2016.

At SAE Byron, Emma dreamed up a redesign for six pages of Frankie, the favourite magazine of many Australian readers. As a child, her favourite gift was a copy of Photoshop with which she redesigned her favourite books. Today, as a fulltime designer at the digital design agency Vim + Zest in Mullumbimby that handles coveted clients including Elements of Byron, Byron Bay Brewery, and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra in its collaboration with the world renowned MONA.

Emma took some time out from her busy days to tell us about her inspiration and methods for success, from SAE student to design world professional.


Can you tell us a bit about your design “story” — how did it all start? 

At about age ten, I received my first copy of the program Photoshop. I used it to help visualize scenes in the books I was writing as a hobby. As I taught myself to use it for digital illustration, I became quite partial to gifs, animation and game design, which in my later years had me taking a Software Design and Development class (I liked it, but the coding was a little too much for me).

Straight after graduating I got into Digital Media at Griffith University, but found the course far too varied and only stayed for a year before moving to SAE and into a more focused Bachelor of Graphic Design.

Whilst in my last year at SAE Byron Bay, I had my first real industry experience at Engana Graphics, a small boutique design agency in Mullumbimby. I learned so much from design professional Melanie Blint, who was always so encouraging and kind. Melanie cemented the fact that the design industry was my true calling in life.

During my months there, I was also approached by Vim + Zest. I of course said yes to the interview and then found myself with a job. I have been part of the team for over a year; my fellow staff members are wonderful people and provide pearls or wisdom. Some days are more challenging than others, but it is worth it when our clients are happy. 

What are your fondest memories of your time at SAE?
I met so many amazing people at SAE and I am so thankful for their kindness and support. The Byron campus has such a nice sense of community, allowing close-knit bonds to form between people from all walks of life. 

What did you love most about studying at SAE?

I loved the fact that I didn’t have to ‘book an appointment’ just to speak to my lecturers. The class sizes were tiny in comparison to the 100-plus student size classes at Griffith. Beyond that, I loved the environment at the Byron SAE campus; everyone was always so friendly.

Can you share how the skills you learned while studying at SAE have helped you in your career?

Partnering up with students from other industry related courses helped to prepare me for the world outside of an educational and controlled environment, where you need to be able to work with a multitude of industry professionals to be truly successful. 

What have been your career highlights?

Just getting a job at all was my biggest career highlight and just about every week brings a new one. I recently oversaw my first photo shoot, which was a pretty amazing experience and I had amazing people to show me the ropes. 

My first main project as part of the Vim + Zest team was creating and collaborating on e-books and questionnaires for our spectacular client, The Leadership Kitchen — the end product is rather gorgeous.



My favourite project at Vim and Zest so far has been with our client the Byron Business Events Bureau. Vim and Zest collaborated to create a corporate identity. One of my favourite things we helped them launch with was the origami brochure. It was so much fun to design something so colourful and inventive and I can honestly say that it is their brand personified.


What do you enjoy most about working in your industry?

Being around so many like-minded people is honestly a dream come true. Creatives are open minded and passionate. It is also fantastic getting paid to do what I love (as most graduates say).

Can you share an artist that inspires you?

Just one?

The first artist that comes to mind would be Massimo Vignelli, a creative genius that truly believed in the ‘less is more’ approach to design, especially in regards to typography.   

A more recent artist that truly inspires me is Marta Veludo, an Amsterdam Designer who uses the things I love most about design such as colour and shape and is inspired by pop culture and folk art. Marta’s works are filled with an array of pastels and simple abstract shapes, which when seen altogether become the embodiment of happiness. I adore the artsy style and the vibrancy, playfulness and uniqueness of the designs are what I aspire to.

What advice would you give to students on their way to success?

Teach yourself more than what you get taught. Self-learning is incredibly important if you hope to stay in your field. With so many new technologies being created every year, it is good to stay up to date.

This and That Game:

I would like to apologise in advance, as it seems I am not mainstream enough for this game.

Converse or Vans?

I have a pair of shoes that look like they are Converse.

Coffee or Tea?

You cannot mask the taste of coffee; tea at least has variety.

Apple or Android?

Who doesn’t like Google? It got me through school and university.

Instagram or Snapchat?

From a marketing perspective, Instagram is the winner. I never see any business showcase Snapchat.