Where do you work?
I work for MBL Solutions who are a marketing company that have clients ranging from well-known retailers to local start-up companies. I had previously done a small amount of photography work for them in 2007, so they were obviously one of the first companies I sent my digital portfolio to. I had only just returned to the UK after studying at Shillington in Melbourne (May to August FT 2009), but the Managing Director loved what I had done on the course and hired me within a few days!
What is your role?
I'm a graphic designer, although I have been involved in creating solutions for a wide variety of clients. This has included producing price brochures, posters, in-house marketing documentation, newsletters, web banners, websites, logos and e-mails along with some photography work and general brainstorming for the wider marketing scheme. The most recent job involved sitting in our meeting room thinking what video we could create for a national ‘squirty cheese’ company, that had any chance of going viral when posted on YouTube!
What were you doing before the course?
I was a Client Manager for Sony.
Why did you decide to do the course?
I had enjoyed my previous job but didn't feel that I was making use of my creativity and I think this was why I never felt like it was 100% for me. I decided to take some time off to travel and reassess what was really important to me. This is how I ended up extending my stay in Australia and on the course at Shillington. I always felt I couldn't afford to enrol on a graphic design college course as they usually take 2 or 3 years. Having completed a degree in Business ten years ago I knew how frustrating it can be having only a few lectures a week, sometimes with hundreds of other students. The course at Shillington was 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday with two lecturers, a small number of students in the class and a recognised qualification at the end. People seemed to be able to get jobs after graduating if they found that graphic design suited them and worked hard. It really couldn't have been better tailored to what I wanted to do.
Did you feel confident about entering the design industry after you graduated?
I felt really confident and full of inspiration and ideas. I must say that it is such a good feeling to sit in an interview with pieces of work in your portfolio that you are really proud of and then explain that many of them were turned around in a matter of days. Shillington ultimately runs like a professional studio with tight deadlines and honest critiques and presentations. I think that this is a big factor in making students feel confident about entering the industry at the end and is probably why employers hire so many graduates. However, graduating was just the beginning of another steep learning curve, as I've needed to add to the foundation of skills that I picked up on the course and put them into practice in the real world.
What was the most valuable thing you took away from the course?
Picking up good design habits! They are fairly wide-ranging but include things like grids, guides, subtle typefaces, mood boards, brainstorming, not going for the obvious, thumbnails, restraining your desire to hammer every new technique you learn, visual diaries, online tutorials, time management and taking time away from the computer. Working with two lecturers everyday, who are both successful designers, really instills what is expected from the industry. We also had the opportunity to spend time with lecturers from the other branches of Shillington and several guest lecturers so, again, I was able to ask for their advice, gain an insight into their design habits and best practices.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
I think there has been a constant steam of highlights! Getting my first brochure printed was a massive high and getting nice feedback from clients is always excellent. One of the biggest highlights was creating a suite of web banners for approval at a notoriously difficult client's monthly meeting. I had only done one web banner before (at Shillington) and I was told that usually it takes at least one person to make their voice heard and come up with a couple of changes. But on this occasion they were all approved straight away and the banners went live that afternoon. That was a good day!
Where do you see yourself in 12 months?
Doing more of the same, just better, faster and with more creativity. I really wouldn't want to do anything else now and just feel so lucky to work within this industry.
Shillington graduates talk about life after completing our course.