Past and present

Past and present

Well my education, and a love for graphic design really began when I started my A Levels at college. My teacher Siobhan really recognised that I had a flair for creative thinking and encouraged me to pursue a career in this direction. I think this really helped as before then I was quite unsure as to what I wanted to do. I also studied Art and Design at AVCE level (similar to a B TECH) in which I achieved a double and I managed to pass my A Level in graphics with an A.

I applied for 3 different universities and because of the courses I'd done, I was able to start my degree straight away and miss out the foundation year. I applied at Central St. Martins first which looking back, I'm glad I didn't get in. In my personal opinion, this college is very much still stuck in the past and is heavily fine art based. I also applied to Ravensbourne but the interview was tough; the tutors just didn't get me or my humour and kinda picked on everything I'd done. Whether or not this was a filtering tactic I don't know, but you could cut the atmosphere with a spoon in there!

When I went to Southampton for my 3rd interview however, I experienced something I'd never seen before. The city was very fun and student based and there was a strong sense of community, everything was nearby to ......well everything!

For me, moving away from home was definitely the right thing. I was leaving everything in London behind and I had to start again. I was scared to bits but what I didn't realise was that 95% of the people on my course were in the same boat. Because of this everybody made a real effort to get to know each other, and I couldn't have been put with a better bunch. Even the tutors were surprised at how well we got on a gelled together and there were 70 of us in the 1st year! We got taken on a trip to Amsterdam within 3 weeks of starting and I think that it was this that kick-started the tight bond that still lasts today

In the final year me and 3 other course mates moved in together. It was the best and worst year of my life. The pressure to do well was really on but I don't think I would have coped if I didn't have 3 other people there with me going through the same thing. We'd help each other and creatively it enriched our work. It always helps to have someone on the same level there to critique your work and spot things or make suggestions you might have missed before.

Our tutors were great... admittedly I think they were all a little loony, but It's not until you start work until you REALLY understand some of the things they used to say. Listen to them, they know their stuff! Our timetable for lessons weren't too bad. We'd have an hour tutorial every week for each project we were working on (usually around 4 projects at once). We'd share the hour with around 5 other people, which was great as we'd bounce ideas off each other and were encouraged to contribute ideas to other peoples work.

I graduated from Southampton Solent University with a very respectable 2:1 and it took me around 4 months to finally get my foot in the door with a company but now I'm here I've learnt an immense amount and I'm confident now that my career will be able to finally take off!

My top tips for surviving and succeeding a design education:

  1. BE SURE: make sure your positive that this is what you want to do. You will be virtually living and breathing graphic design for 3 years. even if you are sure, you will question yourself countless times if your on the right course but you just have to stick at it, is really worth it in the end
  2. KNOW YOUR STUFF: even if you have to do a couple of hours research the night before a uni or job interview its really vital you do this. Don't get caught out when your sat in the chair and the person opposite you is asking your opinion on their past work!
  3. GET CONFIDENT!: when you go for an interview you will have to sell yourself (not cocky though) Design is a tough field and with on average around 500 people going for each job vacancy only the strong will survive!
  4. MOVE OUT: go somewhere different and live away from home whilst at uni. Financially its very hard but if your reasonably sensible with money you'll be fine - you have to be! If you still live at home and commute, you WILL NEVER have the same experience as all your peers. It's all about gaining some independence and it makes going home to see the family all the more special.
  5. WORK HARD: knuckle down reasonably hard with every project. I know its cliché but dont leave everything to last minute. You'll make life a lot easier for yourself if you find the right balance between work and play I saw some of the strongest people close to meltdown because they'd let it slip
  6. PLAY HARD: do I really need to elaborate?
  7. FILL YOUR FREE TIME: if you have the time and are at a loose end, try and do extra stuff. Take photographs, go to exhibitions and work on personal projects, it all bulks your portfolio and looks better on the HOBBIES section on your CV than 'socialising with friends'
  8. WORK EXPERIENCE: It's vital that you try and get work experience during holidays. It will teach you things about working in this field like nothing else can and it will be really useful to apply to your work, especially in your third year.
  9. ENTER COMPETITIONS: you might win something, which really makes for a shining CV and remember, grades are not as important as a fantastic portfolio.
  10. DONT GIVE UP: just remember if your work and belief in yourself is good enough, somebody WILL give you a chance.