How Do You Stand Out From The Crowd? A Tip Every Design Student Should Know!

Communication – the human connection – is the key to personal and career success.

Paul J. Meyer

Christina Canters Design Draw Speak MoCCA Charlie Brown

Wanna stand out like giant inflatable Charlie Brown?

Yesterday I went to the MoCCA Arts Fest, an event where illustrators and artists (mostly doing comics and cartoons) showcase their work. A mid-sized comic book convention, you could call it!

Frankly, comics and graphic novels aren’t really my ‘thing’, but I was invited by an illustrator friend, so I went.

At first, it was a bit overwhelming. There was so much work on display, and I didn’t understand any of it! So to learn more about this foreign world of illustration and cartooning, I started chatting to the artists.

A number of them were students who are graduating soon. All of them had excellent work, all of them were very passionate and all of them were considering their potential career paths after graduating.

One young woman in particular stood out.

I didn’t see much of her work at all, but I remember her. Do you know why? I was hovering near her table when she looked me in the eye and said: “Hi! How are you? How has your day been?”

It seems like such a simple thing, but I tell you what: I had been walking around for 40 minutes and she was the FIRST person who had initiated a conversation with me. I was super impressed that she had made a genuine effort to connect and engage with me.

This made it SO clear to me how good communication can set you apart from the crowd. Sure, your work may be fantastic, but from what I saw, EVERYONE’S work was fantastic. And as a non-illustrator, I was only able to understand and appreciate the drawings by talking to the artists and hearing the stories BEHIND the work.

That’s what has stuck in my mind – the stories, rather than the work itself.

Here’s the thing:

After seeing many stalls and hundreds of books, booklets, strips and cards, much of the work started to look the same. Even my friend admitted that it all seems to blend together after a while, and she’s from that industry! (I now have an idea of what it’s like to be an employer receiving hundreds of seemingly-identical job applications.)

Christina Canters Design Draw Speak Business Cards School of Visual Arts
Some of the business cards I picked up. They are ALL great. How would YOU set yourself apart?

So if you want to stand out, you MUST connect and engage with others as as person. Initiate conversation, ask questions, share your stories. Remember: people connect with people!

I’ve been focusing a lot of my posts and podcast episodes on how you communicate as an individual – like presenting in front of a group, or communicating one-on-one. But coming soon is a series of episodes on how to get noticed and communicate you as YOUR BRAND to the world. Make sure you subscribe to the podcast in iTunes so you don’t miss out!


  1. onehappycoach says:

    I just did a presentation Secrets to Connecting With Anyone.

    At the end of the day, we all desire to connect. It is not just about who we know but who cares enough to know our story and whose story do we care to know?

    A little care takes you to a big smile! :)

    Love your work Christina! Be amazing as you always do! xx

  2. So very true Christina! I so agree with you about stories. A couple of weeks ago I attended a workshop and the presenter who really stood out was the one who had stories and stories about the stories. And in a couple of months we have a very eminent psychologist/therapist coming to Melbourne to deliver a workshop, and again the thing that I remember most from when I saw him most recently was the story behind one of the therapy videos he presented. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that a presentation that DOESN’T have stories may succeed – but if it does, it’s doing so the hard way!

What are your thoughts?