Spurred by the birth of his first son to find a career he was passionate about, Andy Myers studied graphic design in the first ever class at Shillington Manchester back in 2009. Kicking in a job in marketing, following an unfulfilling degree in economics, Andy has embraced the world of UX design. He designed for some of the UK’s biggest companies before landing a dream job—designer for Manchester City Football Club.
Keep reading to discover what Andy’s experiences of the first ever Shillington Manchester class was like, how he ended up working in UX design and some of the amazing projects he’s been working on at Man City.
Happy 10th Shillington Anniversary! You graduated from the first ever course at Shillington Manchester back in 2009. Can you tell us what you’ve been up over the last decade?
After Shillington, I did lots of placements for small design studios in and around Manchester; doing a mix of print, digital, branding and exhibition work. In 2011, I ended up at large digital agency called Great Fridays and worked on projects for Vodafone and Pearson. Both were starting to develop mobile products for phones and tablets, and as a consequence I started to think beyond design as just an interface.
After that I spent several years as Senior UX Designer at the BBC working on Sport, Live and Three. That gave me the confidence to become a contractor/freelancer where I’ve had long stints at Barclays, Lloyds and now, Manchester City.
Working for one of the biggest football teams in the world is very exciting! How did that come about? What kind of things have you designed for them?
As is often the case, working with City came via an old contact I had who wanted to show what the digital team could achieve with in-house design resource. I came in to create a visual design language—like Google’s Material Design and BBC GEL—that they could use to create consistency across all their digital products. I’ve also led design on their new website, new ticketing platform, new mobile and TV apps.
Could you tell us more about a recent project for Man City? What was your process?
We recently launched a new iPhone and Android app for City. While my friend and fellow contractor, Robin Gibson, led much of the design, it was a culmination of a lot of work we’d done together developing a new visual language through a process of research, sketching, user testing with fans, visual design and build support. The feedback so far has been really positive and it validates the work we’ve done on the language/style guide with a new website and TV App to follow soon.
You’ve spent a large part of your career working in UX Design for some of the country’s biggest companies. Why did you choose to go into UX?
I sort of fell into it. Working as a graphic designer, most of the projects were digitally focused and when I joined Great Fridays, I was placed in the Experience Design team. I had never come across the term UX as they didn’t teach digital design at Shillington when I studied there, but I ended up working closely with the lead visual and UX designers in that team, so naturally my skills in both areas improved. I never dreamed of working at the BBC, but my wife does and she sent me a job in their UX&D team. I didn’t expect to get it but it was there where I really honed my UX skills beyond designing interfaces to running workshops, managing stakeholders, conducting research, etc.
What are your memories of Shillington back in the day? Are you still in contact with anyone you studied with?
I still remember it fondly. Jon Fry and Orla McGrath were my teachers (and sometimes Simon) and I genuinely loved being in their class. It was the first time I’ve ever been so focused in the classroom and felt good at something. I used to keep in touch with John Palowski, who is now a teacher at Shillington himself, back when I would go to portfolio evenings, but with three kids I don’t get out much anymore!
What was it like to be in the inaugural class? Were you apprehensive at the time?
I actually started on the part-time course in London. I think I was the first pupil to transfer to another campus! We moved near Manchester to be close to family and being on the full-time course worked out better for me as it had my full attention.
I wanted to get into the industry without doing another three years at University, but I was apprehensive about Shillington because it was new to the UK and it seemed too good to true.
Ultimately, it was better than expected and having seen its reputation go from strength to strength over the years I feel vindicated in that decision.
You originally studied economics and dabbled in marketing—do you remember why you decided to make the change over to graphic design?
Again, I fell into marketing and have no recollection why I chose to do Economics. I’d always enjoyed art but my teacher at school put me off it. Over the years, I ended up doing bits of graphics here and there in my jobs—mainly due to small budgets we had to work with—and I realised that was the only bit I enjoyed. When my son George was born, it felt more important to find a profession I enjoyed and felt passionate about and so I enrolled in London.
What were the most valuable lessons from your time at Shillington? Anything you still draw upon in your work today?
Sketching, without a doubt. It’s always good to get ideas out on pen and paper instead of jumping into software.
Jon and Orla really instilled that as part of the curriculum. Nowadays, I use it sketch out user journeys, a complex navigation structure, a rough interface and the like.
If you could go back and give just-graduated Andy one piece of advice, what would it be?
I’d tell myself that I’m going to have to be patient! I graduated in 2009 and there weren’t many graphic design jobs going. In some ways it was good because I managed to do placements in a variety of places and get experience and direction from different people. I took on lots of freelance work to supplement my income and worked long hours. It was two years before I had a full-time income which meant I could relax my freelance work.
Huge thanks to Andy for sharing his story with us after all these years! Connect with him on LinkedIn to see more of his work or ask him any questions.
Want to learn more about studying graphic design at Shillington? Learn about our 3 month full-time and 9 month part-time course in New York, London, Manchester, Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane —> www.shillingtoneducation.com