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20 Years Since Shillington Sydney: Jeremy Somers, Founder and Creative Director of We Are Handsome

Jeremy Somers attended Shillington almost 20 years ago—wanting to jump straight into a career in graphic design he opted for the Shillington course. And an illustrious career he has had. From working in one of the first digital agencies in Australia after graduation, he now works as the Creative Director and Founder of fashion label We Are Handsome—worn by the likes of Beyoncé and Rihanna. His creative career has taken him all over the world where he’s been able to work for some of the biggest brands. Read on to hear more about his journey and what it was like studying at Shillington in the early 2000s feat. Bubble Macs!

Why did you pick Shillington to start your design career? What was it about our course?

Back in 2002(ish?) Shillington was the only private and graphic design focussed course of its kind in Australia.

An easy choice for someone who didn’t want to do 2-4 years of Uni to learn design.

What have you been up to since graduation? How has your life changed after Shillington?

I started off freelancing in Sydney and ended up working in some of the first digital agencies in Australia. I worked on big brands and designed some pretty awesome things for Pepsi, Xbox, Samsung, Worldvision and Nike.

A while later I started a fashion brand that took off and I spent the next decade literally designing and producing anything I wanted, travelling the globe to fashion shows and events—a true dream!

You’ve had an illustrious career to say the least! And you’re now working as Creative Director for fashion brand We Are Handsome that you built from the ground up. It’s been worn by Beyoncé and Rihanna to name a few—that’s insane, how did this all come about?

The brand itself grew from a little creative idea and a weekend passion project—the way all good businesses start! After showing some friends and family, the consensus was I should start a brand and try to sell the swimwear. So, We Are Handsome was born, and the rest is history!

Could you tell us about a recent professional project?

I just completed a cool job for Hyatt and Alila hotels—producing a series of illustrations for half a dozen of their properties for a global campaign they launched. I had pretty much free range to just create—best brief ever! And the resulting series is some of my best design work in years!

What about a favourite project? You’ve worked for big brands like Spotify, Canon, Fitbit etc. Which project stands out for you?

Working with Mercedes was a dream—I designed and wrapped a few different cars for them over the years, and there’s nothing like seeing your design in real life, driving down the street in Miami—being stared at by every single person there.

Can you offer some advice to a graduate who may want to follow the same career path you have, how did you end up where you are today?

Stick with your creative projects—don’t just immediately start a business or brand because you CAN.

Things take time to build and grow, so passion projects are fantastic to find their feet before they turn into something bigger. Also, always keep designing and practising—it’s the only way you get better and better.

Back to Shillington, can you remember your favourite brief from the course? You mentioned that you remembered studying on ‘Bubble Macs’! We’d love to hear about your processes and outcomes.

I don’t think I do, but the output of us in those days does not even compare to what is being produced today. The technology was much slower and raw-er—we got all our inspiration from magazines (hola ComputerArts!). And when I started at Shillington, I was the first class to study InDesign—they had JUST switched from QuarkXpress (if you know what that is). We did study on the bubble macs (a whopping 6GB hard drive and 32mb RAM) and we used ZIP drives to back up our work. This makes me sound super old—which I am I guess but it was only 18 years ago!

Did you make any meaningful connections with teachers or fellow students during the course?

Yes, a couple of students who I still keep in touch with today, and I did keep in touch with Clare (Australian Director and former Shillington teacher) for years! Hi Clare!

If you could give one piece of advice to someone starting at Shillington, what would it be?

Throw yourself into it—eat and breathe design. Don’t be afraid to experiment and find your own style—it can take a while but it’s so worth it!

Anything else you would like to share?

Shillington was maybe the best investment I ever made in myself

I have fond memories and can’t thank Andrew enough for starting such a wonderful college.

Huge thanks to Jeremy for sharing his story with us! Make sure to check out more of his work. You can also follow him on Instagram where he posts about design and his picturesque life in Hawaii. 

Inspired to have an amazing creative career like Jeremy’s? Learn more about Shillington’s 3 month full-time and 9 month part-time courses Online or on campus in New York, London, Manchester, Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane.

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