Michelle Trafford (They/Them), Graphic Design Manager, London England
What inspired you to want a life in Architecture and the creative industries?
I never set out to work in the architectural industry but I’m glad I do. Thinking back to when I was a young artist and musician who hadn’t yet decided on their path, it was clear that I was going to end up working in a creative environment, because I would always set out to give people an experience whenever I produced work. I always wanted to make a real difference to people’s lives and have always wanted to use my creativity to achieve my vision of how the world should be – a place where nature and people of all diverse backgrounds and abilities could live together in harmony.
Who inspired you in finding your path to Architecture and the creative industries?
During my teens, I was inspired by my form tutor who was a calligraphy writer. He used to design his Christmas cards on his desk as his students were doing their class work. I asked him to write the alphabet for me so I could learn this style of calligraphy, and it inspired my passion for typography. My art teacher was also influential in guiding me down the creative path and was always supportive of my work. He would also design cards but using high tech pens, and I admired that everything he designed was so precise and balanced. My path started out with a passion for music, art and technology. I enjoyed using design as a method of solving a problem on the page. The creative industry allows for personal expression and my chosen medium of design gives me a voice.
How you unlock obstacles and overcome bias in your work?
I thrive on creating designs that are meaningful and impactful, with messages that challenge convention. I do not have the ‘usual’ demographics of most people working in architecture, but I have embraced those differences as an opportunity to share a different perspective and create fresh design from my unique outlook. Not everyone in my career has always understood or embraced this, but more and more the sector is seeing the benefit of diversity and challenging our preconceptions and biases.
What improvements you feel are required to promote effective change in the academic and working environment.
Representation is needed. Visibility of diverse designers to inspire the next generation of architects and designers. When I was young, I never had any role models, there was no one who looked like me in the industry. Now, I am putting myself out there for others to see, because you can’t be what you can’t see, right? We must listen, show active allyship, and allow their voices to be heard – only then can growth and change happen.