Charly studied on the full-time course at our Manchester Campus. On the night of graduation she met Peter Holden, Creative Director and founder of Manchester agency, Holdens’. This encounter paved the way for an internship which ultimately led to a permanent position.
Now settled into her new role, Charly shares with us the journey that brought her there and how she’s finding life as a graphic designer.
You have a background in print. What made you decide to become a graphic designer and why did you choose Shillington?
I’d worked for about six years in the greeting card industry as a creative manager, and really missed being a hands on designer. I became more and more curious about graphic design and loved that it spanned across so many areas. After making the decision to change career, I was pretty eager to just get straight on with it. I had read about Shillington in Computer Arts and was drawn to the fact that I could spend three months studying in a way that prepared me for industry, ending up with a really comprehensive portfolio. Ultimately it was seeing the quality of previous students work that really sold it to me.
Holdens’ looks like a fantastic place to work. A real bedrock in the Manchester design scene they’ve worked on some of the city’s best known brands as well as some global names. Can you tell us a bit about your journey there so far?
I met the Creative Director (Peter Holden) at my grad show, and he asked me to pop into his studio to show my portfolio to his team.
I was offered a three week internship and during those three weeks, I was lucky enough to be offered a permanent role.
It’s a family run business with a studio that covers such a varied range of design. I’ve been given so many different projects in my four months there: from environmental graphics, to branding, to styling a photoshoot, and even some interior designing.
Now that you’re doing it full time, how does designing make you feel?
A complete mix of things. There is the first part of a project when I feel really inspired, things start to slot together and I get excited about ideas. Then there tends to be the period in the middle of “oh shit, is this concept even any good?”, followed by a little bit of anxiety (I’m told this tends to be when your best ideas are formed). Then, determination kicks in and when things start to come together again, my confidence builds and I get a real feeling of pride. Maybe if I was to put it into one word, it would be passionate… or just confused!
Can you tell us about any upcoming projects you’re working on?
I’m currently working on some experiential design and the branding for a pop up bar, both of which are for an event at Manchester’s Spinningfields, launching in the Spring.
You studied at our Manchester campus and now work in Manchester’s bustling Northern Quarter, what’s it like being a creative in Manchester, can you tell us a bit about the atmosphere there?
It’s a really relaxed atmosphere, but there is loads going on. There’s a big creative community and regular events (that normally involve beer) with designers or studios as speakers. Exhibitions are always on either at the main galleries, or smaller ones within bars and coffee houses. There are tonnes of nice shops for creative supplies, great books or just a bit of inspiration. It’s the perfect place for a creative.
Did you make any meaningful connections with teachers or fellow students during the course?
It is such an intense three months and you are all in it together, so you end up being like a little (slightly strange) family.
We had a lot of laughs, and all the students really supported each other—especially towards the end when we were all in the depths of portfolio work.
The teachers take the time to get to know everyone and how each person works. The way that they mentor and really push to get the best out of you is why, I think, the course is so successful.
There’s so much energy within each project in your portfolio—you have a real knack for storytelling. Do you have a favourite project in your portfolio and why?
I think my favourite project was the boutique packaging. I’m a sucker for stationery and liked the challenge of giving such a basic product a bit of personality. I did a lot of research into Japanese wrapping and loved the traditions and methods used. It was a really fun project to create too—I got the paints out to make the patterns, spent ages crafting the packaging template so that there were no glued sections, and used a bright colour palette to bring it all to life.
What’s it been like making the transition from design student to designer? Any tips or advice for our recent graduates?
It is scary. Despite being equipped with all your Shillo knowledge, it is still daunting stepping foot in a studio for the first time. Suddenly the briefs that were pretend before, are now very real and for real clients. But I’ve found those scary things soon become the things that make you love your job.
I would just say enjoy it, be curious, and don’t be afraid to pick the brains of the designers around you.
If you’re thinking of enrolling on the full-time or part-time course at our Manchester campus we’re having an Info Session on Wednesday 13th April at 6pm. No RSVP needed. Get in touch directly for more information.