At school, Amee Wilson always got in trouble for doodling on her homework. She was artistic and creative, but never realised her passion could be more than just a hobby. Fast-forward a few years, and Amee’s a successful digital marketing manager … and after working closely with creative agencies, she realises that’s what she wants to do! Use her creativity every day through design. After seeing an ad for Shillington on the tube, and decided to take a big leap of faith to Brisbane.
And only four weeks after graduating from Shillington, Amee landed an internship position that has turned into a full-time role at Clemenger BBDO. Read on to hear her story!
Why did you decide to study design? And why did you choose Shillington?
I have always been fairly artistic. I drew a lot when I was younger and used to get in trouble for doodling all over my school and university work. I had always seen it as a hobby, so never considered a creative career as an option and fell into marketing by chance. My most recent job meant I had regular contact with advertising and creative agencies and soon realised that I wanted to do what they were doing – coming up with ideas and making them look amazing! I had been writing campaign briefs and automatically thinking about concepts, so I decided to find out how to change industries. I knew I needed the technical skills, but after conversations with creative directors I realised I needed a portfolio too.
I did a lot of research into different options before I settled on Shillington, which I hadn’t even realised existed until I saw a poster on the London Underground. It was a financially viable option that meant I wouldn’t be out of full-time work too long. It also felt like a safer risk.
I knew it was a big jump to quit my job and relocate, so my rationale was that is at the end it wasn’t what I wanted to do, a 3 month career-break wasn’t too long to explain on my CV.
However, by week two I knew that I’d made the right choice.
Where has life taken you since graduation? How has your life changed?
As I relocated to Australia for the course, my life has changed quite dramatically in the last five months! I definitely wear a lot more suncream these days. The last few weeks since graduation have been a bit of a whirlwind—I just started working as a Finished Artist at Clemenger BBDO which is an ad agency in Brisbane. After four weeks of job hunting and freelancing, I was lucky enough to be offered the position and so am now working full time in their Studio team. Ad agencies are a pretty hectic, so the hours are fairly intense, but in the 2 weeks I’ve been there the learning curve has been amazing. I’m surrounded by people who are super talented and passionate about advertising. It also makes a huge change to be working doing something I love!
What are you most looking forward to in your career?
Definitely seeing something through from initial concept to production. As I’m still new, I’ve joined a lot of projects half way through. I can’t wait to see something I’ve been involved from the outset out in the real world!
What was your favourite Shillington brief?
Poster issues. It was the first brief focused around advertising and definitely solidified for me that it was the industry I wanted to be part of. Along with the fact we had to choose a topic we felt strongly about. Around the time the brief was set, the Stanford rape case had just hit the news. It was a big challenge to find a concept and design to communicate a message for such a sensitive issue, but seeing people’s reactions to the final product was a great feeling.
What was your biggest challenge during the course? How did you push through?
Definitely the mental battles of hitting an ideas block or feeling that my concepts weren’t strong enough. Like most creative people I’m a perfectionist and intensely competitive with myself. If I think an idea isn’t good enough I can find it very hard to refocus and move past those feelings. My classmates were definitely a big part of helping me snap out of being so self-critical.
In the first few weeks I found it hard to ask people for feedback, but soon they became my best source of inspiration.
Some of the best ideas come from talking through initial thoughts with someone else. I also found a TED talk by Adam Grant—The surprising habits of original thinkers—during one particularly challenging week which is about the process of creative thinkers; definitely one to watch when you’re feeling bad about your ideas!
What was the most surprising thing about the course?
The amount of work that actually goes into the design process.
Before the course I had never heard of the design principles or even used a grid. Now I can’t unsee them—I question alignment everywhere!
It was also fascinating to see how despite learning the same principles and being given the same briefs, the variety of work and ideas from a group of people is huge.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone starting at Shillington, what would it be?
Never settle for the obvious option, always push yourself to come up with as many ideas as you can. If you’ve finished ahead of time, keep coming up with more! Don’t be afraid that some of them might be bad or stupid. The more you push yourself to find lots of different routes, the more likely you are to come up with something unexpected, or one which isn’t quite right might spark the next idea. Shillington is the best place to really push the boundaries, there are no clients or budgets – so think big!