Where do you work?
I work for the Telegraph Magazine, the Saturday supplement magazine to The Daily Telegraph.
What is your role?
Describe your typical day as a designer.
We are lucky enough to have an amazing canteen and coffee bar so I stock up there before heading to my desk. I check any emails that have come in overnight and then prioritize work accordingly, especially if something is close to deadline. Being a weekly magazine means the turnaround is quick. Although we work to a three-week lead time, the hierarchical levels in which each piece must be signed off is crazy. Last minute amendments to the layout or a story being pulled in place of something more current or topical is commonplace.
What do you love about being a designer?
I love the way I can now look at an object in a totally different way to before I started at Shillington. The course kicked my creativity into drive; it was always there, but it was dormant. I love how I work with some of the world's most famous and renowned photographers, and I love that friends ask me for help on their own personal projects. It's the biggest boost to one's self esteem and confidence!
When did you graduate from Shillington?
What area were you working in before the course?
Sports Events & Marketing.
Did you have any design experience before the course?
I studied Design & Technology as an A-level but that was it. I'd never worked on a Mac before, let alone the maze that is Photoshop!
Why did you decide to do the course?
I had become a victim of the recession plain and simple, floating from one job to another and never getting any reward for my hard work. Jobs were scarce but the bottom line came down to unhappiness. I'd find much more enjoyment in designing event invitations than coordinating the events themselves. I couldn't go back to college for another 3 years, so I researched and discovered Shillington. Decision made.
What was the most valuable thing you took away from the course?
My portfolio and the ability to have confidence in my own work. Being taught how to research a brief was invaluable and thoroughly enjoyable; before, I was forever sketching an idea on a corner of the newspaper or the inside of a book jacket!
How did you find the college environment, facilities and teaching?
Excellent. Everything you could wish for was provided. The teachers were wonderful and fun to be around. They made the entire process instantly enjoyable and relaxing.
How confident did you feel about entering the design industry after you graduated?
I felt hugely confident, so much so that 3 days after I graduated from Shillington I was asked to an interview in Amsterdam for a design firm. I got down to the final two, but I didn't care that I lost out - all that mattered was that somebody liked my portfolio enough to see more and meet me in person.
How long did it take you to secure a job?
I spent about six months doing work placements at various studios to gain experience then I landed a job as an Account Manager / Designer at a leading advertising agency.
What was the response like to your portfolio during interviews?
Always positive and encouraging. I learned early on from one of the teachers to be positive about EVERY piece in your portfolio when in an interview, even if you come to dislike a certain piece after time. Getting a response to a job application was the first hurdle; once I'd conquered that I knew that I just had to get in front of them with my work and talk. My enthusiasm should have been bottled and sold!
What's been the highlight of your career so far?
A highlight of my career so far was seeing the first magazine I'd worked on on the shelves right before Christmas. I was beaming for the whole day. To know that over one million people look at my work every Saturday morning over their breakfast is mesmerising!
Where do you see yourself 12 months from now?
I'd still like to be here at the Telegraph Magazine, gaining more experience each day. The dream is to become Art or Creative Director for one of the big monthly magazine. Or open an artists' studio/cafe in Costa Rica with beautiful prints on the walls and a menu to die for. All branded by me of course!
Any advice for someone pondering whether to take the leap into graphic design and sign up for the course?
In the words of Nike, just do it! You won't regret it.
Shillington graduates talk about life after completing our course.