#EmbraceEquity with judge Marie-Joëlle Lemire
A Q&A with 2023 Student judge
March 10, 2023
In recognition of this year's International Women's Day (#EmbraceEquity) we wanted to celebrate all the talented hard-working women in our industry and so, we approached the women jurors of our three 2023 Awards competitions – Photography/Illustration, Design and Student – with a Q&A. We wanted to provide them with a space to discuss their experience in the industry today as well as share their advice to up-and-coming creatives.
How did you end up in the industry?
My relationship with Art began with oil painting lessons during my childhood, which sparked my passion for creativity and self-expression. In college, I was intrigued by two programs: graphic and interior design, both of which had unique artistic qualities. However, I found that graphic design offered greater diversity and a more intimate connection to my creativity, leading me to choose it as my field of study. Since graduating I have been working professionally in the industry for more than 10 years.
What were your goals as an up and coming creative?
Upon completing my education, my aspiration was to work for a leading agency and rise to the position of creative director. Back then, a friend of mine asked for my assistance at his agency, which was a well-established but small agency at the time. Although it was not what I had initially envisioned, I decided to give it a shot. Eventually, I realized that it was the perfect opportunity for me. The agency experienced significant growth, and we became increasingly specialized. With a significant amount of trust placed in me, I was granted the freedom and confidence to upgrade the creative department, ultimately progressing from a graphic designer to a creative director. I am now proud to be a part of this growing marketing company that offers a comprehensive brand experience.
Yet, my career path is quite unconventional. Approximately seven years ago, a small design studio specializing in typography, branding, cultural, and editorial design presented me with a part-time work opportunity. It was different from the large-scale company I had envisioned, but the quality of their work, their talents, vision, and types of projects were very appealing to me. I always admired their work, so I was really excited by the offer. So, I accepted, and to my surprise, the marketing agency allowed me to maintain my job as well.
Currently, I find myself in the perfect world, splitting my time between the design studio, which allows me to explore my interests in editorial and cultural design, and the marketing agency, where I can apply my skills as a creative and management lead. This unique arrangement has allowed me to gain diverse experiences and knowledge that I can utilize in both roles. I am grateful for the opportunities that have come my way.
Who was your mentor?
Mainly from the two co-founders and creative director of the design studio where I work part-time. Their unique design approach, strong work ethic, and perspective on things constantly inspire me. They have provided me with valuable guidance and feedback that has helped me grow as a designer. I am grateful for the numerous opportunities I have been given in both of my jobs, which have allowed me to build meaningful professional relationships and grow as an individual.
Do you feel the creative industry has evolved when it comes to fairness to women in the workplace?
While there has been some progress in recent years towards promoting fairness and equality for women in the workplace, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. I work in a supportive and respectful environment at both of my jobs, where I feel valued, credible, respected and listened to. As a woman in a creative leadership role, I am proud of my position. At times with clients I still sometimes feel that I may not be taken as seriously as a man in the same position. The fact that women often feel undervalued and overlooked is an ongoing problem that needs to be addressed.
Another important issue that needs to be addressed is the impact of motherhood on women's careers. While I can't speak from personal experience, it is clear that there is still work to be done in society as a whole to achieve equity for mothers. For example, the year-long gap in employment and earnings often experienced by new mothers can have significant financial and career-related consequences that are simply not fair.
Has your career provoked change out of the office?
Balancing personal life and work is a challenge that I, like many others, face on a daily basis. However, I have found that this challenge has become less daunting as I have gained more experience and become more confident in my abilities. As a result, I have become better at managing my time and setting clear priorities, which has allowed me to strike a healthier balance between my personal and professional commitments.
What is your advice to young creative women seeking a career in the industry today?
Stay curious and don't be afraid to try new things. Fear of change can be a valuable insight that may indicate a need for change. While you may have a specific career path in mind, be open to exploring different paths as they may lead you to your ideal destination. Additionally, don't limit your sources of inspiration to the creative world. There are many things outside of design that can provide inspiration and fresh perspectives.