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Meet the Makers: Andrew Johnstone, Creative Industries Lead

Our Meet the Makers series explores the backstories of the people who make up Canva, diving into how they got to where they are today, and the things they’ve learned along the way. This contributed post is by Andrew Johnstone, Canva’s Creative Industries Lead.

The world of design has shifted tremendously since I first started in the industry — for one, it’s no longer restricted to only those that have a design degree or who have spent hundreds of hours learning how to use complex and expensive software.

Today, graphic design is increasingly focused on simple to use tools where everyone — from children in the classroom designing posters for subjects they’re learning about, to design teams in large enterprises creating global out-of-home campaigns — have the opportunity to feel the joy of bringing their creativity to life.

At Canva, we’re on a mission to empower the world to design, and I’m so excited to be a part of this crazy big goal. But, how did I get here?

I actually fell into design by accident. I wanted to be an artist, but I mainly did pencil sketches and didn’t know how to paint! Thanks to a course advisor at university, I ended up taking a few graphic design classes.

Fast forward 30 years, I’m still in the industry and am currently the Creative Industries Lead in the Strategic Partnerships team at Canva, working closely with design professionals at brands like Netflix, Sydney Mardi Gras and World Pride, the Walkey awards, Melbourne Victory football club and many more to incorporate Canva into their workflow.

When chatting with these design professionals, one of the questions I’m often asked is: “doesn’t using Canva mean we have to ‘down tools’ on the current software we use?”

The answer? Definitely not! For professional designers, Canva complements a lot of the more complex tools they’re using while empowering others on their team without as much design training (e.g social media coordinators, internal communications teams, marketing professionals) to create beautiful designs that follow their brand guidelines effortlessly. This gives designers more time to focus on impactful and complex work that excites them, while ensuring teams aren’t facing design bottlenecks.

When you’re an aspiring designer looking to begin a career in graphic design, a lot of emphasis is put on learning various software when you’re studying. But what I’ve learned over the years is that creativity isn’t about the software or the computer — these are just tools in your arsenal.

Being creative is the ability to find inspiration in the day-to-day and come up with concepts and ideas to turn into reality, regardless of what platform you use. I’m glad my current role gives me the opportunity to talk to and work with so many inspirational creatives — I feel very lucky to be surrounded by so much inspiration every day and can’t wait for the months and years ahead. We’re truly only 1% of the way there.

Check out my full Meet the Makers interview above if you’d like to hear more about my role or my top tips for aspiring designers. If you’re looking for your next creative role, we’re hiring and would love to hear from you!