Career Stories

Grace Enemaku

Multidisciplinary designer & illustrator enemaku

Graphic Designer

What is your current role? 

I’m a multidisciplinary designer & illustrator who specialises in branding and illustration for the unconventional. My projects vary from conceptual branding for startups and SMEs, to print and illustration for the Arts and Advertising. As I’m self-employed, my job includes creative development of the above as well as client liaison, invoicing, lead generation and other business management. I’m also co-founder of DesignOpp, an IDI initiative to champion diversity for People of Colour in Irish Design.

Tell us about your career journey to date: 

After graduating from Visual Communication in DIT/TUD I worked at a startup before settling in an agency called Thinkhouse from 2017 – 2019. I worked predominantly on advertising campaigns, posters, social design and event design with a little bit of creative direction. I also learned photo editing and photography while I was here, it was a great place to learn new skills. During that time I was promoted to Design Manager and was also responsible for organising the design team (alongside the Senior Designer), managing briefs, budgets and designing and pitching bigger projects.

During this time I met DJ Mona Lxsa, founder of GXRLCODE, a collective amplifying female creative talent. I came on as co-founder of GXRLCODE and rebranded them, developing many posters, graphics and events with the team. This was a turning point in my career as I realised I could create and lead my own creative projects and collaborations with creatives I admire outside of the traditional college > studio/agency pipeline.

In late 2019 I moved on from agency life as I wanted more time to pursue the many creative projects I was working on, so I left Thinkhouse and pursued my independent creative career full time with an aim to pivot into illustration which had always been my goal. From 2020 until now I’ve been building my practice in branding and illustration and have gotten opportunities to exhibit with Hen’s Teeth and illustrate for big brands like Guinness and Cadburys. I even had my first children’s book published by Gill Books, I Believe in You by Deborah Somorin.

I also co-founded DesignOpp in 2021 to bring more opportunities to POC creatives in Ireland where I manage our DesignOpp team.

Are there any expectations you had about this career path that you found differed from reality?

I had not realised just how important business acumen was for a self-employed creative, from invoicing to lead generation and pricing negotiation and contracts.

What three skills do you believe are crucial to succeeding in this career?

– Tenacity
– Good communication skills and keeping on top of emails etc
A good eye and complex creative thinking. Technical skills can be taught, but it’s not easy to teach somebody how to think and see critically within the job.

What advice would you give someone considering a role in this sector?

The day to day of a creative job can be surprisingly boring! Especially if you’re making a lot of creative work for other people. It’s good to have personal projects to reignite your own flame to keep you excited about creating. These projects are often the ones that resonate with people the most and can lead to other paid work that you love.