Lauren Austin completed a Bachelor of Design in 2011.
Lauren is a Sydney based visual designer and brand consultant with a passion for human centred design, typography and creative problem solving. Her approach to design is vibrant and bold — with conceptual thinking and attention to detail at the centre of everything she does.
Working mainly with non-profit organisations, Lauren was motivated by the scale and urgency of the climate emergency to build a career out of helping organisations weave authentic and persuasive narratives throughout their visual content to change minds and shift behaviours for a greater good.
Lauren's diverse client base ranges from small local charities to large international non-government organisation's, allowing her to specialise in high impact, rapid-response campaigning for a wide range of print, digital and UX/UI design projects. When Lauren's not in the design studio, she's behind the pottery wheel.
At UNSW Art & Design we encourage our students to explore the breadth of career opportunities available to them. The Design Your Future series showcases the journeys of our unique and inspiring design alumni.
Tell us a bit about your career in design? Were there any pivotal moments on the path to where you are now?
I am a true multidisciplinary designer. After I graduated from COFA (now UNSW Art & Design), I worked in the architectural industry for a number of years whilst pursuing my ceramic/object-based practice on the side as part of collaborative design studio, The Fortynine, before taking a leap of faith and completely shifting industries to work as a Senior Designer for Greenpeace in 2014.
I had always been passionate about sustainability in my early design practice, but I still had a lingering sense of urgency to do more purpose-driven work. My work with Greenpeace gave me an opportunity to push my creative work so much further than I ever could have imagined and working as part of a large multidisciplinary campaigning team, meant that my designs influenced social, political and most importantly, environmental change at a national and sometimes global scale…and still do!
More recently, I specialised in Human Centred Design/UX/UI design and have been teaching UI design alongside my work as a visual designer and brand consultant for non-profit organisations. It’s a wonderful mix of both worlds and I enjoy the opportunity to encourage my students to challenge their own perceptions of what impact their design work could have in the world and really question what makes design good.
Most rewarding aspect of a career in design?
There’s so many! Aside from working on creative projects that have the potential to positively influence social and environmental change, I think the people I get to work with make my work so much more fulfilling. Design attracts a creative, curious and compassionate creative community and it really is the inspiring mix of clients, colleagues and students I work with who bring the joy to so much of my work.
Most interesting design challenge/project you've worked on?
One of the greatest challenges of working in non-profit, campaigning work is the crazy timelines and last-minute chaos that comes with campaigning work, as so much of it is dependent on external factors outside of our control, so I’m often problem solving and designing on the fly. Although it was a crazy time for everyone involved, one of the most interesting recent projects I’ve worked on has been developing branding and campaign collateral for Greenpeace’s ReEnergise Australia campaign; which has already seen some great wins, including shifting 80% of the Australian beer sector to be 100% renewable.
What about your UNSW experience has helped you in your career?
I think UNSW really fostered a collaborative and curious mindset from the very start of my design studies. Its only in hindsight that I can see how much this helped me excel in my career and gave me strong yet flexible foundations in design that allowed me to explore so many industries and mediums in my design practice.
I also have very clear memories of Katherine Moline’s Graphic Design lectures exploring handmade lettering and grungy Adbusters spoof ads. I never would have guessed that years later I would be working for Greenpeace and curating pasteups and brand jams I designed for billboards and bus stops all over the country.
One skill you learnt at UNSW that has been invaluable?
Design thinking and the ability to work across many mediums has helped me grow, solve creative problems with limited resources and adapt to changing industries many times over
Designing Your Future – one piece of advice for aspiring designers?
I had a mixed relationship with my time at uni. Sometimes I loved it and sometimes I just wanted to get out and into the world. In hindsight, I wish I had slowed down and trusted the process more. So my advice would be to use this time now to explore your ideas, experiment with new mediums and really challenge yourself to develop your technical skills while you have the time and space to connect and reflect critically on your creative process. These foundations will serve you well and give you the confidence to jump when great opportunities arise.