Daile Drevins Director and Principal Designer of Salt Design started her own business 15 years ago. Over a 20+ year career spanning corporate and government sectors, Daile has stayed abreast of industry trends. Her combined expertise and passion for contemporary design ensure she’s a sought after advisor to tertiary education institutions and industry.
Daile’s individual design work has received a number of industry accolades including the National Print Awards, Public Sector Management Annual Report Awards and Queensland Printing Industry Craftsmanship Awards (PICAs).
Tell us what your motivation was to start your own business?
After 15 years employed as a graphic designer, I realised it was no longer enough for me to simply ‘design’ pretty pictures all day. I wanted the challenge of providing the full service. To interact with clients, to learn about their situation and to work with them to find creative solutions. And deep down, I wanted to make people happy!
The satisfaction I feel today when a client LOVES our concepts, or thanks us for getting their job delivered on time, gives me as big a buzz today as it did when I first started Salt!
You are an industry representative on advisory committee for Griffith College Design Faculty providing commentary on current industry trends and advice on directions for education and curriculum. What are some of the current pre-eminent design trends?
As with many industries, technology has become an intrinsic influencer of design trends. With technology we find design trends are changing faster than ever before. This poses challenges to create designs which retain their relevance and purpose after a particular trend has moved on.
My involvement with Griffith College is to focus less on ‘what’s hot’ and more on which industry trends will influence the areas of design being taught. And in turn, impact on what workplace opportunities await graduates. Trends may come and go, but core design principles and skills will enable graduates to apply their creativity to whichever trend their brief is directed by.
Another workplace issue which is of particular interest for me is the practice of offering unpaid internships. I believe there is potential for design businesses to take unfair advantage of new designers desperate to enter our industry. I strongly believe we have a responsibility to educate and mentor new designers, and to do so benefits both our industry and the impact good design has in our lives.
How have changes in technology influenced the design industry?
Designers have become both freed and bound by technology. It is vital for professional designers to rely first on their creativity, and not depend on technology to direct them.
We have an abundance of inspiration and education available online (Instagram, Pinterest, Blogs, YouTube, etc). Through online forums and websites, we have opportunities to share creative ideas far beyond our studio – we have a global village of ideas and inspiration at our fingertips!
However, there is also potential for how we design to be restricted by the technology we use. As desktop ‘design’ applications become more available – how do we still justify our professional services? How do we validate for our clients the investment to source professional design over ‘what they can do themselves in Word’? The answer – our creative abilities, our understanding of form and function and our passion for every aspect of good design.
I also see how communication has sometimes been the poorer because of technology. We rely so heavily on email to connect and communicate. And while it is an extremely useful method, so much can be lost or misconstrued. It’s why we insist on face-to-face relationships with our clients.
Where do you find design inspiration?
It sounds clichéd to say ‘everywhere’ – but it is in some ways it’s true. Mainly because inspiration starts with a feeling to look outward. To make yourself open to absorb new ideas, digest different opinions and review what you may have already seen but in a new light.
Inspiration is the spark of a thought which spins an idea on its head and sends you in a totally different direction. So inspiration can be found wherever my drive is focussed…
For business inspiration I’m subscribed to a number of online resources and blogs. I also regularly catch-up with like-minded business owners and mentors. I find sharing ideas, discussing issues and hearing other perspectives is invaluable.
For creative inspiration (I love Instagram!) My design team are also a great resource for finding out what’s on trend. With three female designers in our team, our production meetings regularly spin off-course to discussions about a brilliant brand someone has just seen, or an upcoming design event, or even a typographic nightmare someone found online! Oh yes! Inspiration stems just as easily from a totally horrific design solution as one that is so amazingly beautiful you can hardly breathe!!!
For ‘me’ inspiration you’ll always find me on a beach!
What has been your greatest challenge?
It’s a personal one, but it was a challenge from which I found strength and direction which I draw upon every single day…
At 21, I was diagnosed with melanoma. It was removed and as an indestructible 21-year-old I believed I was cured and got on with life.
At 35, the melanoma came back – this time as a tumour in my left lung. Throughout the roller-coaster of surgery and treatment, I kept telling myself I had too much yet to do. I also realised what an amazing team of love and support I had around me.
So when I was given the all-clear again, I decided it was time to take some (calculated) chances and start my own business. Heavens! How hard could it be?
That was 15 years ago. I’m still here and business is great! Yes, there have been challenges along the way – but none I have faced alone thanks to that continued love and support.
What are you most proud of?
I still do a ‘happy dance’ around our Salt Design studio when we begin working with a new client or win a project quote. I’m humbled to know a client believes in us, trusts in our abilities and is willing to enable us to create a project with them.
I am so very proud of what we have achieved over the past 15 years. I am more-so proud of what we have yet to achieve!
What’s one piece of advice for future female leaders?
Look inward before you begin searching outward. It’s important to know and understand what you want, where your passion lies and what strengths you have. Only then can you really see what’s around you, and be oh so ready to seize the opportunities that present themselves.
Oh – and get regular skin checks!