It goes without saying that design is everywhere, and that every industry needs design and, therefore, designers. The food and beverage industry is no exception—restaurants, producers, markets, breweries, shops and everywhere else need exceptional design to help them stand out in a industry that grows around 5% a year. It’s a great industry to be designing for so we spoke to seven Shillington graduates across the globe working in different roles in the industry, some in-house, some freelance and some in studios. They shared their insights into designing things to tantalise tastebuds and getting a job in food and beverages.
While some of our graduates worked in the industry before studying at Shillington, Debora worked at the same bar she now designs forand Claudia was working in marketing for several food and drink start-ups, on a whole they come from very different backgrounds—for instance, Lynley did Fashion Design at university and worked in retail for 20 years before enrolling at Shillington!
Joanna completed an illustration course at university in London and spent a couple of years travelling and working in hospitality getting frustrated with her situation, she told us: “I was getting restless and wanted a career that used my creative skills as well as giving me the security of a full time job…
From all my research Shillington looked ideal, and the full time intensive course was exactly what I needed to get fully immersed in this next step.
As with designing in any industry, designing for the food and drink industry has unlimited possibilities—it’s not just about designing menus! All our graduates working in-house each gave us a long list of different jobs that they undertake in their job.
These included packaging design, video and photo editing, website design, art direction, point of sale collateral, adverts of all shapes and sizes, experiential work and, of course, menu design.
Julia, as a strategic designer for an agency, creates marketing collateral, creates brand identities and writes copy. As a freelancer, Claudia’s experiences differs slightly from our other graduates: “The role varies depending on what the client needs but generally it involves developing identities for brands, creating the visual look and feel as well as the tone of voice and messaging. Often clients don’t have a particular idea about what the brand should look like, what it should stand for, how it should exist off-pack. I help to bring their vision to life by defining an overall creative direction and then rolling that out across packaging, website, social media…anything really!”
Both Lynley and Francesca found their jobs through the internet—Lynley found her job at Tasman Butchers through Seek, an Australian job site, whilst Francesca would scour LinkedIn for companies and roles she was interested, before finding an email address to contact them directly. She then emailed them to introduce herself and send over her portfolio—she found this proved very successful and scored her job at Vita Coco this way. Julia also found her job at HIYO through the internet. She simply googled “remote design agencies” and was struck by the studio’s origin story—it was founded by twin sisters. The fact that they worked with food and drink clients was an added bonus!
Never let the job search grind you down though! Jess found searching for jobs in Brisbane difficult so started looking in Melbourne instead: “I sent out a bunch of resumes to any job I could find and got 2 interview requests, so I grabbed by portfolio hopped on a plane.”
What really cemented my love for this industry was that the interviews were so relaxed and actually fun! All I had to do was be myself and explain my work, which I knew inside out.
Each one of our graduates had their own unique reasons for loving their industry, which in itself shows that it’s a great industry to work in. Jess loves the passion that the industry brings out in anyone and everyone that works in it, and the free food and alcohol that she is lucky enough to get is a great perk—though she says it’s having an effect on her waistline!
Lynley enjoys that her job provides an interesting challenge: “What I find fascinating is how to make raw meat appealing, not only visually but in age where there is debate over health verse’s ethics of meat eating.”
Julia and Debora agree with each other that great design in food and drink makes the user’s experience better. Debora said:
You’re providing a spacewhere people share time with friends, celebrate important dates in their lives and so much more! It is great to create the tools for that to happen. Effective design makes the whole experience so much easier but also really special
Joanna told us that there was nothing quite like seeing your work, whether packaging or adverts, in public—she loves to walk in to a supermarket and see her design on the shelf! She also loves the sheer variety of brands within a single industry and how different each one’s creative direction is—there’s endless possibilities! Francesca agrees; she thinks the industry, as it is ever changing and there is always new demand from customers, provides endless opportunities for innovation and creation.
Finally, Claudia is excited by the idea of designing packaging for the industry as she loves that people will engage with it a tangible way—even just picking it off the shelf. She explained why she loves packaging so much:
I especially love the idea of a creating a brand that doesn’t just live on-shelf but has a whole brand world behind it. The packaging is the purest expression of that universe, but there’s so much depth to be created behind the on-shelf presence.
Our food and beverages grads all had some excellent pieces of advice for designers who want to work in the industry. One thing that Jess, Debora and Claudia all agreed on is that it’s important to keep an eye on industry trends and what different food and drink brands, whether this be producers, venues or otherwise, are doing. Debora says that this will help you to understand a business’s vibe and what they want to communicate and Jess agrees, adding that it is “invaluable when it comes to trying to give my venues a point of difference, in amongst the thousands of other venues in central Melbourne”.
Though, it’s not just visiting venues that is important, Jess thinks that Instagram is vital to keep up to date with what is going on in the industry globally, as well as being an amazing source of inspiration. Claudia also suggests the important of staying on top of industry news, naming The Dieline, a packaging blog, and The Grocer, which focuses on the fast moving consumer goods market, as two great places to start.
Johanna, Lynley and Julia accentuate the importance of self-initiated projects. It gives you a chance to expand your portfolio and tailor it to the sector you want to work in. It’s also a great work to show your own ideation, which Julia thinks is really valuable:
It gives you time to really own the project from beginning to end, from conception to the shoot. I even had the chance to be the creative director for the final packaging, which was actually really fun to do with my personal work.
Claudia added that it’s important to decide what kind of work you want to do and the kind of environment you want to be in, as this makes the job search easier and stops you applying for jobs you might not actually want. Lynley also reminded us that all experience is relevant, graphic design or not—something you’ve done before or a side hustle may make you stand out from other candidates.
Perseverance is key, and you may not find the job you want immediately. Francesca offered some excellent advice for designers in this situation: “Never give up! It took me four years of college, and an additional four years after college to achieve my dream of being a designer. It’s takes confidence and self-assuredness to secure a job… So even if you aren’t feeling confident or self-assured, fake it til you make it. You’ll learn so much on the job! Additionally, people are always willing to help you or mentor you if you express a desire to learn and improve your skills. Be open, raw, eager and honest.”
Big thanks to all seven of our graduates, Jess, Claudia, Johanna, Lynley, Deborah, Francesca and Julia, for sharing their advice and stories.
Want to design for the food and drink industry but don’t have the skills yet? Then why not study graphic design at Shillington in three months full-time or nine months part-time in London, Manchester, New York, Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane.