Alexandra Fitzroy felt a bit lost as an account executive, but spotting a Shillington ad in Frankie magazine kickstarted her brand new creative career. After studying full-time at Shillington Brisbane, she landed a junior role at R/GA Sydney working with major brands (Red Bull, Nike and Google to name a few!), eventually freelancing full-time. And at the start of 2016, she moved overseas to Los Angeles, finding her feet as Senior Visual Designer at Huge. Things sure have changed since flipping through that issue of Frankie.
Recently she’s been keeping busy with a big project—the digital design and launch campaign for Seatfrog, a brand new Australian startup. Read on to learn more about her creative process, what she loves about being a designer and her top tip for Shillington students.
Tell us about Seatfrog. What’s it all about and how did you get involved?
Seatfrog is an Australian-based startup that allows airline passengers to bid for an upgrade the same day they fly. We’re using an eBay style bidding mechanic to emulate a traditional style auction, which makes the experience super engaging and fair for its users.
When I joined SeatFrog the foundations of the branding had been established but it wasn’t as refined as it is now. A big part of my role has been to help evolve the brand as we establish new parts of the platform.
Why do you enjoy designing for startups?
I think there’s a passion that lives in startup culture that you don’t see anywhere else.
Everyone at Seatfrog is really invested in the platform being the best it can be, and you can feel the good vibes in the studio every day. I find it really inspiring and fun.
How did you approach the UX/UI and digital design?
My team works super collaboratively with CCO Ben Ient. Ben will usually come to us with a written brief and a few ideas on how to solve it. From there, we’ll brainstorm some more as a team, before bringing our ideas into wireframes, testing them and then running them through visual design. It’s a fairly informal and open process.
What was the biggest challenge during the project?
We’re making something that doesn’t exist yet, so user testing is a big part of our iteration process. We’ve found that when we test in-house we get totally different results to talking to people at the airport, to if we create a really immersive role-play scenario. Getting the environment right for each problem we want to test can be a huge challenge.
How do you feel about the big launch? All your hard work will be out for the world to enjoy!
I’ve never been so excited about a launch before! I was one of the first staff to join the team, and have gotten to watch both the team and the product grow up together. The reception since launch has been overwhelming, and I feel awesome about having played a key part in making it happen.
What inspired your move to Los Angeles? What was it like moving your career and life around the world?
I’ve always wanted to live abroad, and made the decision in January to make the States my first stop. Moving has been a really long process! It’s been really daunting but I’m enjoying the pressure of working in a new environment and exploring a new city. I spend a lot of time in American supermarkets looking for things like haloumi, which I’ve discovered is a lot harder to get out here.
You’ve worked with major brands like Red Bull, Qantas, Telstra, Nike, ANZ Bank and Google. What’s a favourite project you could tell us about?
In 2014 I worked on a social activation for the ARIA awards. We created a platform which we used as a secondary experience for everyone watching the awards at home. We had a team on-site at the awards taking photos on the red carpet and interviewing musicians. We then had another team of 30 designers, writers and illustrators editing and posting this content to our platform, as well as creating custom art in real-time to congratulate winners or best-dressed. We actually took over a pub around the corner from the ceremony and turned it into a pop-up studio, it was pretty hectic.
What do you love about being a designer?
I want to say that being a designer can be a bit of an emotional rollercoaster sometimes.
It’s like solving a puzzle, and just when you think you’re never going to work it out that last piece slots into place and everything makes sense. I love that feeling.
Do you have any go-to resources for creative inspiration?
I find immersing myself in another discipline to be really inspiring. Sometimes going to a music gig or a museum, or exploring a new city can have a massive impact on the aesthetic I might put together at work on the next Monday. Outside of that, I find talking to my friends about good design, or referencing what great designers are doing around the world to be really useful. I always get so excited when I uncover something beautiful on the interwebs.
The week I graduated I flew to Sydney to attend Semi-Permanent, and one of the sessions was run by two creatives from R/GA. I emailed them afterwards, and ended up joining as their first junior staff member a couple of weeks later. I worked with R/GA for 2.5 years before going freelance to save for my overseas move. I was lucky enough to spend a year working with Seatfrog – first working nights after I finished for the day at R/GA, then coming on freelance to help prep for the big launch.
Top tip for a new Shillington student?
Try to meet as many people in the industry as you can. Befriend your peers and attend conferences. You never know when someone might be of a huge help to you or you can help them. I got my first gig through sitting in a conference, so I can’t advocate for this enough.
Anything else you’d like to share about Shillington?
If you’re second guessing it, just do it. The course is managed really well, you’ll come out with a sweet portfolio and a lot of confidence.
Are you interested in learning about digital design? Study full-time or part-time at Shillington –> www.shillingtoneducation.com.