By Deidre Bastian
The name ‘deketaDesigns’ is synonymous with versatility and style, and Tonika Cox, a young entrepreneur and graphic designer, is starting to make a name for herself in this industry. While browsing online and looking for new trends, she offers to share a few tips regarding her career.
Art of Graphix question (Q): Tell us about your graphic design career. How did you break into graphic design, and how did you advance to where you are today as a designer and entrepreneur?
Answer: I actually broke into the industry by accident. I went to college to study Veterinary Studies, failed at that miserably, but then took a course in Graphic Communication and attained my Associates in 18 months. Thereafter, I hit the floor running.
I kept at it because it never felt like work, and I was always excited to see how my left-sided brain managed to turn simple black words on white paper into colourful explosions of creativity.
I’ve worked for companies most of my life, but I want to give a plug to a few people in particular… Theresa Burrows (guidance councillor at Government High School), who encouraged me to complete a few computer classes, which we did in family life in high school. There is Elton Moxey (my first boss at Movi), and Cedric Storr (colleague), who encouraged me to leave my job and pursue self-employment. Denero Rahming (friend) listens to me complain countlessly about annoying clients.
Q: When did it resonate with you that graphic design was your career path?
A: After I completed my Associates degree at Success Training College in 18 months with honours.
Q: How would you describe your design style?
Versatile… simply because I have clients who request Junkanoo styled designs rather than simple straight forward Black & White creations.
Q: Where do you look for inspiration?
A: Everywhere. I’m trying to get to the end of the Internet for the most part.
Q: What do you do to keep your ideas fresh?
A: Browse around… I spend most of my time online and there are always new trends and exciting ideas.
Q: What tools do you use on a daily basis?
A: Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. They are like the oxygen to my designs.
Q: How would your customers describe you?
A: I’m not sure. I’d have to ask, but 90 per cent of them have been with me since 2006, so I would like to say there is something I am doing right to keep them coming back.
Q: What is the job of a graphic designer?
A: Graphic design is a broad term that covers many jobs, overlaps heavily and covers all ends of the creative spectrum. Some examples are art director, brand identity developer, logo designer, multimedia developer, interface designer, packaging designer, desktop publisher, etc…
Q: Would you consider yourself a creative and, if so, why?
A: I love what I do. I honestly don’t know where any of it comes from. It just happens, my creativity. I just read a phrase or document and it turns into images and colours.
Q: Describe a typical day of work.
A: Check e-mail. Work on projects. Send proofs. Collect money. Then repeat the same process. But no, I think I have a normal day, unless the world needs me to save it.
Q: What areas of design are you less experienced in but interested in gaining more knowledge of?
A: I’d say illustration. I can’t draw a stick man/woman; they always come out looking like they’ve been drawn in a moving bus.
Q: How do you cope with criticism?
A: I hate it. If you don’t like how I design there are other artist who can accommodate you. I honestly do not need to be up at 2am working on a project for a person(s) who are just going to sit there and tear my work apart.
Q: What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses?
A: Quick turn around. It’s my blessing, and sometimes a curse.
Q: What is the one thing you enjoy most about being a graphic designer?
A: Getting paid! Seriously, the part where I meet new people, some of whom have become very good friends. I’ve met the love of my life through graphic design.
Q: Which project has given you the most satisfaction so far?
A: Putting on my politically correct hat, I have so many amazing clients, and working with them all gives me daily satisfaction.
Q: What advice can you give to prospective students who are thinking about a career in graphic design?
A: 1. Please don’t overdo the BEVEL AND EMBOSS and OUTTER GLOW tools. There is a time and place for them. I’d say the garbage, but that will be cruel.
Never give up. People will dampen you spirit, but if this is what you want to do, stick with it… it is very rewarding.
Do tutorials, research and get a mentor.
If you decide to enter the field as a freelance artist, do not try to undercut others. There is enough business in our country for everyone.
Do not forget your contracts. Some people will try and use you for their personal gain.
Until we meet again, fill your life with good memories rather than regrets. Enjoy life and stay on top of your game!
• NB: Columnist welcomes feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org
ABOUT COLUMNIST: Ms Bastian is a professionally trained graphic designer/marketing coordinator with qualifications of M.Sc., B.Sc., A.Sc. She has trained at institutions such as: Miami Lakes Technical Centre, Success Training College, College of the Bahamas, Nova Southeastern University, Learning Tree International, Langevine International and Synergy Bahamas.