September 30, 2018No Comments

PREPARE AS A GRAPHIC DESIGN STUDENT

One of, if not THE main thing that will make or break your first industry job is studio culture. Agencies don’t hire solely on technical ability and portfolio work, they also consider how well they think you will fit into the day to day of the studio: because of this it is important to know what you what size of team would be best for you, what clients you would do your best work on, what type of manager you need etc. People can spend a month or longer in a job before realising it just isn’t the right fit, or they weren’t ready for that kind of studio. Luckily there are some practices that you can do in university to prepare yourself for a full-time creative role. Being a graphic design student at university presents you with a good opportunity to find out what kind of job you want.

 

Work shifts

One of the first things I would recommend doing as a student is to work a set number of hours through the week (or whatever is most suitable for you). In university I would mostly work 9AM to 5PM, 4 days a week – the reasons for this were: It allowed me to do work when the studios were quiet, I became accustomed to doing creative work in the morning, it allowed me to have my evenings free to have a social life, it played a role in preventing burnout and lastly these hours are very typical for industry.

You do not have to work 9-5 but I would recommend committing to set working hours to help get you into a schedule, and, more importantly, to make sure you have time when you can relax and do other things.

 

Take lunches

Lunch breaks follow on from the previous point about mimicking hours of a working day. Take your lunch away from a computer, go and sit outside or in a cafe (or pub, most likely) with friends or alone. Dedicate some time in the middle of the day between your working hours to relax and avoid looking at a screen. This is a small thing that will stop you getting fatigued so you can work more effectively and efficiently when you are back at your desk.

 

Set internal deadlines

Just like many others, I suffered from last minute cramming in university and looking back, I regret it so much. Setting intermediate deadlines is a good technique you can use to avoid that. If you have a final deadline for April 21st on a three month project, set checkpoints every two weeks from when you receive the brief. Break down your work to make it more snackable and easy to manage. For example, in the first two weeks do concepting, the next two weeks do wireframes etc.

Not only will this help you avoid late nights, it will also help you to become more efficient and streamline your processes. Your sleep pattern will thank you when the last week rush of project deadlines occur, and you’re relaxed when everyone else frantically tries to get things done.

Build a good relationship with tutors and mentors

Hopefully, you are as lucky as I was in university and have a number of approachable and helpful tutors. In my second year, I really started to use them to my benefit, and my work shot up in quality because of it. I know it seems obvious, but they are there to help you. If you build good relationships with them you will be able to go to them for advice, motivation and guidance. Not only will they be able to help you with your work, but they are also the people who can help you most when you are looking for jobs. Your tutors will likely write your references,mark your work and also provide industry insights, contacts and experience. They are able to put you in contact with the right people and make sure you’re putting yourself in the best position possible to get an interview!

Obviously this ability of building relationships with your tutors will be a directly translatable skill into your job, this practice will allow you to learn how to build and maintain good relationships with managers, coworkers, freelancers and of course clients – something that will help make you stand out from other graduates.

 

Feedback & Crit sessions

Presenting your work to others can be daunting and as a graphic design student, it may seem one of the toughest challenges. However, presenting work to clients is one of the most important parts of being a designer. The sooner you nail this practice, the sooner you’ll find the natural confidence that any great public speaker has. A good designer is one that is confident in talking about what they have produced and can easily explain why they have made the design decisions they have. If you don’t sound confident in what you have designed, no one else will.  

The only way to get better and more confident with presenting is practice. When I was at university, a small group of us would have little crit sessions, separate to when we did them with tutors. The main reasons for this were: most of the time students are working on similar projects, so it is good to see how people have chosen to approach a brief. Secondly, it is a lot easier to be honest with friends, you can talk a bit more freely about your work. This is something you will have to do in a job, so learning how to concisely present ideas and also how to take criticism or feedback that you might not agree with is great.

 

Collaborate

Collaboration is the biggest opportunity for learning at this point in your development and something I wish I had done more of at uni. I regret not doing more than one project with other designers, I feel it was a missed opportunity.

There were many great graphic design students in my year, that I interacted with on Twitter and online in groups and forums. The skills you can pick up from other designers are invaluable, since university I have worked with other designers, creators, developers and project managers on briefs and have been able to develop my design skills, management capabilities and improved confidence in communicating.

Even if it is just a small or personal fun project, I would advise anyone to work with another student. You will have to work in a team at some point and handover work to someone else, so getting this practice in as early as possible will help make you stand out from the crowd.

 

Conclusion

University is a time for you to learn and be a graphic design STUDENT. It is better for you to experiment and fail as a student – that is part of the learning process after all. Sure, university can be stressful and challenging (it is meant to be). Make sure to have fun, don’t do too much pressure on yourself and to do the work you love.

September 4, 2018No Comments

JUST DO IT – NIKE, THE NFL AND RACIAL INJUSTICE

I have always loved Nike, as a sports fan they’re a brand that has became part of my life in someway (also how awesome is 'Just Do It'). From the exciting Joga Bonito adverts, the brilliant Redemption adverts of Tiger Woods and LeBron James – to the more recent collaborations with Casey Neistat and the comical and empowering LDNR advert, Nike will always be a powerhouse brand that stands by its athletes and people. But today’s advert with Colin Kaepernick is my favourite and possibly the most powerful advert Nike have ever done.

The message is perfect for the 30th anniversary of Just Do It, Kaepernick was the first NFL player to take a knee to peacefully protest the USA National Anthem -  against racial injustice in the nation. Why stand for a country that won’t stand for it’s people. Since then he has lost a very promising sports career and been ridiculed by a number of sports fans, arguing that he has disrespected those that have fought for his and others freedom - if that is the case, is this not the best example of using your freedom? To fight for what so many are ignoring, bringing an issue of such importance into the conversation of those who can do something about.

Just as Colin Kaepernick done, it is great to see Nike use it’s reach to stand up for such an important issue.

April 18, 2018No Comments

MY FIRST YEAR AS A JUNIOR DESIGNER

It has now been one year since I graduated university and started as a Junior Designer at The Honey Partnership, here are five things I have learned in that year that I wish I knew before graduating:

1. You should always be a student

Just because you are no longer a student at university/college doesn’t mean you should stop being a student of your industry and craft. Develop existing skills and program knowledge, learn new skills towards a specialty or do something to broaden your skill set. As a junior one of the best things you can do – and studios now mention this in job adverts – is  to follow new trends and keep an eye on what is happening in the industry. This could be going to exhibitions and talks, joining online communities or following blogs and podcasts.

2. You can be more than a junior and more than a designer

Although you should expect to sit at your desk and grind through the work at times (that is what you’re paid to do, after all), however, there is nothing stopping you contributing in other ways. You can offer insight on trends and news, put ideas forward for more general creative work outside of design, support teams on blogs, social or whatever else is happening. You’re more than capable and sometimes expected to exist beyond your job title.

3. No-one expects you to be a finished article

Be fully aware that you are not an established designer and not the final product. Embrace your flaws, highlight them as areas to work on. Employers will appreciate you being able to recognise your weaknesses and be encouraged that you are willing to work on them. Personally, as someone interested in digital design, I wanted to increase my understanding of what is possible in web design, so I took a few coding courses – I am not able to code from scratch but I am able to design with development in mind as well as write spec sheets and edit existing code.

4. Value time

Time is incredibly valuable in the industry and you should use it in the best way possible. My best piece of advice for using time wisely is to actually use other people’s time wisely. A lot of the positions you will be applying for will have many other contenders. Likewise the companies you’re applying for will be very busy day to day. Use this knowledge to your advantage. When sending out portfolios think about what is the minimum and most streamlined way to effectively present yourself, focus on the best of you and put it across in the most accessible way. I would suggest three to five projects showing your best work in either a PDF (can download from email) or website portfolio (can bookmark). Don’t be scared to follow up on emails if you don’t hear back, the employer may genuinely have lost it in emails.

5. Rejection really isn’t that bad

Not to scare you, but there are thousands upon thousands of people graduating university and applying for the same jobs you are. With a limited number of jobs, there is no doubt that you will get rejected from some places, but this shouldn’t hold you back. Apply for internships and positions at studios that seem impossible, the worst that can happen is they say no and you may get some very valuable feedback and contacts from putting yourself out there. Find places you would love to work and engage with them in person and even on social media, learn what they want and apply that to yourself.