Designing Digital Career on Instagram

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When then textile design student, Cat Lovett, called by Loves Data’s office in August this year during a uni break, she was counting the days to completing her four-year honours degree at Massey University. She’s currently working as a designer with Levana Textiles – we’re not surprised!

This 21-year-old digital native is tech savvy and very creative. We caught up with her to chat about how science, data and technology have influenced Cat’s unique textile designs – and how she leverages social media to showcase her talents.

Can you tell us about your major project for your honours degree?

The first semester was the research side, so you could pretty much do anything. I decided on quite a tricky topic – interstellar communication.

I started looking at the Pioneer Plaques and the Golden Record and interstellar communication teams throughout history. From there it sort of translated into some more galactic visuals.

I looked closely at sound waves and radio waves and symbols and semiotics that were sent out into space to represent humanity. I worked on the knit machines at uni from the 70s. I made a  jacket as well as some coordinated designs to go with it. They were screen printed, laser cut and embroidered.

Could you tell us about your Instagram?

I started it as soon as I came to uni, and that was in 2011. I started posting general stuff as everyone does on Instagram, but then I went through and deleted most of the stuff that wasn't my uni work. I quickly realized that I only really liked putting my uni work on it, so that's been what the majority of the content is. If not uni work, I just post other random design stuff I’m working on.

Cat Lovett shows Loves Data her Instagram feed

So, how important is Instagram for you?

It's the whole social media self-promotion sort of thing, I guess. Designers have to get in to start establishing their designs and who they are as a designer. That's why I've stuck to just posting my own designs, rather than of other things that aren't really relevant.

Do you see that correlation between Instagram, careers and business?

Definitely. Because once you put it out there on Instagram or wherever, you can have anybody contact you.

Do you find social media generates a lot of interaction for you?

Yes. Also, word of mouth because Wellington's quite small. I also started selling some of my earrings to friends, and friends of friends, to get experience. Social media has been part of my profile and people’s awareness of me, but I wouldn't say the majority of it.

Do you have a process for posting on Instagram?

I've got a rough eye of how I want my things to look on my Instagram, that comes down to my design process. If I like the look of it, I'll just post it! If I'm really not liking it, then I'll delete it and maybe change it. If it doesn’t fit the composition of my Instagram 100%, then it doesn't really bother me because I quite like that about it.

Do you get more engagement on Facebook or on Instagram?

Instagram is still pretty low key for me compared to my Pinterest or Facebook.

What type of post do you find gets the most engagement?

My quirky sort of unpredicted ones – especially on Instagram. I did an embroidery one a while ago which got quite a lot of likes compared to some of the others. Just the ones that I wouldn't really expect to get a lot of likes. They're not necessarily my favorite ones, but it's  interesting because you find out what everybody likes the best.

♒️

A photo posted by Cat Lovett (@cat_lovett) on May 26, 2015 at 8:01pm PDT

What are your tips for designers on Instagram?

Posting regularly and keeping your followers up to date with what you're doing and what your process is. At uni, I just got so busy ... Oh my gosh – There was some stuff and I was just like, "Oh, it's rubbish." But it was helping me connect with other designers and the industry.I was quite happy with my knits, for example, so I would take a photo of them for a presentation.

Slowly, but surely.. 27 days #knit #knitting #textiles #textiledesign A photo posted by Cat Lovett (@cat_lovett) on Sep 24, 2015 at 4:17am PDT

Binary coded knitting. 35 days to go... #textiledesign #textiles #knitting #knit #interstellar #communication

A photo posted by Cat Lovett (@cat_lovett) on Sep 15, 2015 at 10:51pm PDT

1 week... #knit #knitting #textiles #textiledesign #collection #interstellar #communication A photo posted by Cat Lovett (@cat_lovett) on Oct 15, 2015 at 2:08am PDT

How many hours would you spend on Instagram, in a given week, to promote your business?

I would say maybe like an hour. Apart from that, I would be on other social media platforms, just figuring out what it is that I'm creating as well. I still spend quite a lot of time on my Tumblr and my Pinterest mainly.

My Tumblr’s pretty much design inspiration and aesthetic, more than anything. My Pinterest is just pretty much everything. It's just like visual mood boards for every little aspect I'm interested in, so that's definitely where I get most of my design inspiration from.

Thanks, Cat! We’re with you on Pinterest for inspo and we’re presenting our first free Instagram for Business after hours event next week in Sydney. It’s booked out, but we’ll be running more next year in more cities. Good luck with your new job!

If you enjoyed this or simply have a penchant for cool designs, you can say hi to Cat on Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, LinkedIn, her website and of course, we highly recommend you check out her Instagram!