Illustration for TRImarchi DG

How embracing change can lead to a better career

Angela Kirkwood’s punky, vintage-style graphics have found a legion of fans on social media – and the story behind her distinctive style is one of gleeful rule-breaking

Illustrator and animator Angela Kirkwood describes her work as an “explosion of fun and happiness”, but it has been a journey getting to that point. She studied illustration at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, but after graduating in 2015 couldn’t work out how to turn her degree into a career. “For a year it was a struggle,” she says. After doing some internships, the Edinburgh-based artist landed her first permanent role as a junior designer at an agency and discovered the creative industry wasn’t quite what she’d dreamed of.

“When you get these jobs, at first you start and you’re like, ‘Oh my god, I’m so lucky to work here, this is amazing,’” she explains. “Then, as time goes on, in my experience, working in agencies is really long hours for really low pay, and in the agencies I worked at our values didn’t align, to put it politely.”

Top: Illustration for TRImarchi DG; Above: Stills from the Copy Cat music video for No Frills
CopyCat music video
Stills from the Copy Cat music video for No Frills

Kirkwood stuck it out for several more years. She says she witnessed sexism, a ‘bro culture’ that often left juniors feeling excluded, and experienced a general feeling that people’s enthusiasm for design was being taken advantage of.