At Shillington, we are very fortunate to work with and learn from talented designers across the globe. Top creatives visit our campuses every year to share their insights into the design industry with practical advice towards launching and sustaining a creative career.
Read on to hear some motivational and useful pieces of advice we’ve collected from these 16 guest lecturers.
Great designers aren’t the ones who have the best ideas, they are the ones who understand people and their audiences the best.
“Only then the best and most engaging work is created. That is the time when a passerby is converted into a lifelong fan. I always suggest to novices to master the ‘mechanical’ part of their work, for example, software skills, so they can enjoy exploring ideas much quicker and with ease. Just like a musician who has spent years of perfecting playing the guitar so they can make a connection with the audience instead of looking down the fretboard searching for the right note. When you can create work with ease and speed, then you start adding other skills and knowledge to your arsenal. When you know and recognise how the design fits into the bigger picture then you will start getting answers on to how to enjoy the process.”
“Try many things. Give yourself a chance to appreciate them, and move on if you don’t.” Also, “ask for what you want. Don’t be greedy, but know your worth.”
“[When starting out as a designer], I think having guidance can certainly help. Listening to people whose work and experience you admire allows you to gather a perspective on what it takes to get there. One thing I knew near the end of my time at The School of Visual Arts was that I wanted to work for someone who I respected and could learn from…At the end of the day though, you have to be able to listen to yourself and trust your own instincts.” Also, it’s important for designers to have “curiosity, humility, passion, the ability to think conceptually, working quickly, communicating ideas, and adapting to new directions.”
Have an opinion. Work out why you’re different and how to articulate that.
“You’re not different because you’re highly motivated or love the industry. You need to work out what you think and why, and how it shapes your work and approach to it.”
“Everything takes more time than you think. May it be reaching the goals that you’ve set yourself, or wrapping up a presentation you’re about to show, you have to be patient and give yourself time. I think developing your own voice and style are so important, both for yourself and the work that you’re going to do. But quality is equally essential, as there are so many talented people around us.”
“Push yourself out there. You get back what you put out. Don’t sit there and wait for opportunities to come knocking. You need to take charge and find them yourself. If you’re looking for work and a studio doesn’t reply to your email, then email again. Be persistent, but not pushy.”
Explore: go see the world, fill yourself up with as much wonder as you possibly can. It will pay you back in dividends with an endless flow of new ideas.
“As humans, we can get stuck in a routine easily and end up going along with what everyone else is doing. Breaking that continuity and going somewhere new is a great way to clear away the emotional clutter of everyday life and recharge you ready for the next big project. You don’t need to jump on a plane either, there’s places just round corner that are waiting to be explored!”
“You need to have very good management to be able to work internationally, good management includes being good with timing and process. I love working in design but 50% is management and 50% is design, sometimes even 80% is management. Start a project with setting up good paperwork and then start the actual design. I’m very lucky as I work with a professional team and a good project manager.”
“When I started freelancing, I began to pick up some of my own client work so I’ve been gradually working to tip the balance and produce more work out of my own studio. My tips would be to go at your own pace and find what works for you. Don’t worry what anyone else is doing. I know some great people who set up studios straight out of education, but I found working in different places and building up experience and contacts an advantage and really helps with things like client liaison, time management, and costing.”
Anyone can have a good idea and ideas are king. It is what you do with them that makes the diﬀerence between you and the next designer.
“If you do not believe in your work, it will show. And if you do not believe in it why should the client. If you do not like it, don’t show it. The client will always pick the option you hate.”
“Put yourself in situations that challenge you. Stay hungry—keep learning. Get a good mentor. Be authentic, only you can do YOU well!”
Read the interview with Ektaa.
“Reach out to people in the industry and ask questions, ask for advice whether that’s over email or meeting face to face. It’s also much better to ask for someone to review your work than asking directly for a job as there aren’t always jobs available but most people would be happy to give you feedback on your work.”
To get your ideas flowing, he recommends to “write down all your ideas because an idea you thought had no future, might become something tomorrow” and the value of listening to podcasts.
“Networking, but not networking for the sake of networking. I like making new friends and they just happen to work in the same industry as me. I think that is so much better than approaching someone and asking them for a job straight off the bat. Following on from that I think it is great to surround yourself with people who are doing great things and things that you admire. I have some great friends who work in the same field as me and I am able to ask their advice when we are out for dinner or catching up over a beer.”
“Make yourself as interesting as possible—read a million books, make stuff because you’re interested, create a podcast, paint, have hobbies, learn languages or play an instrument, expand your mind and get involved, have the initiative and drive to turn thought into action. There are those that do, and there are those that don’t have the time, are too busy or can’t be bothered. What kind of person do you choose to be?”
Personal Projects are essential in diversifying our style.
“We don’t want to be trapped drawing black outlines for the rest of our lives. We send each other examples of new personal work that we have been doing on the side—so it’s kind of like a little surprise in your inbox. These examples are central to developing new approaches to the direction our commercial work takes.”
Want to guest lecture at Shillington? Contact us.