Interning at Clear Space


Initially starting my internship at Clear Space, I felt like I was entirely out of my element. I’ve been used to illustration-based designing, and I hadn’t had much structure to my designs prior. Having knowledge that they worked primarily with high-profile organizations, I already anticipated a difficult start. But to my surprise, this internship not only refined my technical skills but provided me with one of the most rewarding experiences of my career.

Something my mentor and creative director, Will Hum, told me was that he wasn’t the type to hold back projects from interns and that every member of their team would need to pull their weight—Intimidatingly enough, he kept his word. In the span of three weeks, I had worked on campaign projects, print assignments, web design, and even developing concepts for clients.

Will’s no fuss attitude enabled me to learn quickly and feel like a part of the team immediately. In a team of six people, including myself, everyone needed to work in complete synergy and this meant constant communication. What I found particularly unique about Clear Space is that with projects ranging from brochures to campaigns, every member of the team was involved in every project. This cultivated a culture that was open to constant critique and collaboration—which is what I think makes them so successful.

During my internship at Clear Space, I began to recognize that value of a good team. Not only are they members of a team, but they’re a family. They frequently take lunch breaks together where they talk about their lives outside work, and gab about television shows or about jokes that they’ve heard; they’ll even take trips to quant stationary stores, coffee houses, and visit museums from time to time. The connectivity that they’ve created makes work comfortable and enjoyable, producing a culture where members of the team want to do a quality job to benefit the firm as a whole. I’ve seen my coworkers stay late hours, drive half-way across town, and even offer to take over projects if other coworkers were swamped.  This dependability and dedication is the foundation of trust that makes Clear Space so tight-knit.

In my first week, I had already felt my own sense of belonging. I had worked for a lot of places in the past, doing what I love and with people I loved, but there was something different about Clear Space. It’s hard to explain but let me try: every day, they play light music over their speakers while everyone works, and the music they play is the exact same music from my personal playlist—It couldn’t be more perfect; I felt like I was home. Clear Space lives on the second floor of 181 Carlaw Street in Leslieville, where the neighbourhoods are flooded with one-of-kind stores, and dogs! I honestly couldn’t have imagined a better place for myself.

I have to admit, there were times that I felt like I was in a rut and I didn’t feel entirely passionate about the work I was producing—but today, I was listening to a podcast from Freakonomics where they spoke to a professional swimmer who said, “Do I love practice? Do you mean, do I like getting into a freezing cold pool at 4am and swimming laps until my lungs feel like they’re on fire? No. I don’t like practice, but I love what I do and I’m willing to work my ass off to do it.” And that’s exactly how I feel about designing, I've found something I'm willing to work so hard to do, and I wouldn't choose anything over it. 

My internship at Clear Space gave me the opportunity to test drive my life as a designer and I’m proud to say that I’ve found something I’d be happy to do for the rest of my life. I couldn’t feel more at home with myself and who I’m becoming.

Thank you, Clear Space. You’ve been life-changing.

Angela Li