Designer Dani Poon has freedom and flexibility as a freelance designer

Swinburne alumni Dani Poon

Dani Poon’s Swinburne graphic design degree has taken her to Italy and back. She shares how she designed a life of travel and success as a freelancer.

“Since I was a little girl I have loved drawing. I was raised with the concept that if you are good at drawing you must be good at design. When I came to Australia from Hong Kong I discovered a lot of designers cannot draw, but if you can draw it is a real benefit to a designer.

I discovered Swinburne through an exhibition in Hong Kong, where there was a lot of beautiful work on display. The course structure was very clear and I was convinced it was for me. I enrolled in a Bachelor of Graphic Design in 1995.

Swinburne gave me a lot of confidence to present my concepts and ideas. I have worked in studios in Australia, Italy and Hong Kong and now enjoy the flexibility of freelance work, which I’ve been doing since 2006.

"As a graphic designer no one comes to you because you have a specific style – it is either word of mouth or by introduction. To be in touch with industry is always very important."

Being a graphic designer exposed to different cultures means my concepts are a lot richer. My mum thought if I became a designer I would always be poor. In first year I won the best portfolio of the year. That means a lot to me because it said to my parents that I was not wasting my time or their money.

It was a challenge being someone who couldn’t speak English very well. I worked very hard on assignments and was at Swinburne all day every Monday to Sunday. Over time I learnt and it paid off. There are benefits to speaking English if I choose to return to Hong Kong for work.

I just finished designing the Year of the Monkey stamps for Australia Post. The whole series of 168 stamps turned out to be very beautiful. My husband tells me this is a real legacy, but I don’t see it that way – I just want to do my best.

Swinburne really helps direct you, to shape and form you as a designer with your own judgements. They teach you what is beautiful and what is not; what is a great concept and what is not.

For me, freelancing connects me with people in my industry – it is my network. As a graphic designer no-one comes to you because you have a specific style – it is either word of mouth or by introduction. To be in touch with industry is always very important.”