Hear straight from our graduates.
Shillington is like summer camp with Photoshop.
Freelance Graphic Designer
Natalia Baker studied at Shillington New York
Why Shillington? What made our design course stand out from the rest?
With 10 years work in the HR industry and four years wedding photography behind me. I felt I’d waited far too long to start gaining income from the creative career I wanted. Financially it wasn’t possible to take significant time out for anything like a diploma or degree—in any case I wanted something very practical. I loved that Shillington based their teaching on real-life briefs, in a timeframe that was workable for my husband and I. We’d looked around but there was no other course achieving the same transformation in three months.
More than anything, I wanted Shillington to break my fear of facing a blank screen and not knowing where to start. It definitely did, from pretty much day one! The pride I felt on graduation day was like nothing I’ve ever felt before. All of us were blown away by each other’s portfolios.
Did you have any previous design experience? How did the course build your skill set?
Everything before Shillington was self taught. Typically that meant buying a template and figuring out how to tweak it. I had no idea how to produce my own designs, certainly not ones I could charge money for. Having tinkered with the Adobe Suite before Shillington did ease some of the learning load but plenty of course mates who hadn’t progressed just fine.
The course programming is exceptional. I could never have found the up-to-date knowledge, techniques, industry tips and anecdotes from any other single source. Now, instead of turning down work or rejecting my own ideas because I don’t know how to execute them, I can give things a go or tap into the Shillington network to ask.
Did you make any meaningful connections with teachers or fellow students during the course?
Shillington is like summer camp with Photoshop. The intensity of the experience leads to fast and firm friendships. The student body is really diverse and our group knitted together really well as a whole. As for the teachers, they each bring so much to the course and are incredibly supportive mentors; time and again they made us feel that Shillington is more than just a job to them. I’m glad to say that months after graduating, those of us still in New York hang out regularly and we keep each other up to date wherever we are in the world. It was a very bonding experience.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone starting at Shillington, what would it be?
Trust the process. Don’t worry if you can’t see the final design at the start. Be a research nerd and get stuck into mood boarding and keywords—it’ll give you the central idea to hang the design from and something you can come back to if you hit a roadblock.
What have you been up to since graduation? How has your life changed after Shillington?
Ask my husband—he’ll say I’m a way happier person! Since graduating, I’ve jumped straight into the freelance world and so far it’s wonderful. Armed with a fresh set of design skills and best practice, I can approach a client project with confidence and ownership. I deeply miss working alongside other people but gradually finding remedies for that; another thing New York provides is plenty of co-working spots.
What motivates me is seeing a real value in anything I make. Working directly with businesses, you get a sense of how design fits into a broader marketing picture. It’s good for me to be able to offer related services like photography and video, and thanks to Shillington, a newfound interest in website and user experience design. Nowadays I think it’s more possible than ever to weave different skills together into a flexible offering.