Hailing from Leicester in England’s East Midlands, Ella Caseley was working a self-taught designer—working in a few different jobs across her hometown. Then, it all changed. Ella applied for the Shillington x Champion Agency scholarship, a collaboration between the design school and the design agency to award a full scholarship to a young creative talent from a disadvantaged background, and won! A few months later, she moved down to London for the Shillington course and graduated three months later with an incredible portfolio and a whole lot of new knowledge under her belt.
We caught with Ella a month after graduating to find out what winning the scholarship meant to her, her experience on the course and her plans now she’s graduated.
Congratulations on winning the Champion x Shillington scholarship! What did winning it mean to you?
As someone who has always wanted to study design but never getting the opportunity, winning the scholarship was such an honour.
When I first applied I genuinely never thought, out of everyone who entered, I would win it. I’m so grateful for the opportunity and proud of myself for pursuing something that I have always wanted.
I was unhappy in my current job and was determined to do something I loved and with a lot of hard work, it finally happened. I can’t thank Scott, Oscar, Amanda and Olivia from the Champion Agency enough!
Tell us about your scholarship entry! How did you make your passion for design shine through?
I designed a poster explaining why I should win the scholarship. The Champion Agency were looking for someone with determination and passion. Yes, I had some self taught design knowledge, but I made it clear to them that I actually wanted to learn and improve my design skills. I think they appreciated that I went out of my way to show I have a passion for design by simply learning it myself and they saw potential. After a few interviews with Champion and Shillington, I got a phone call from Scott saying they wanted to offer me the scholarship. I then moved down to London and, after 3 months, graduated.
How did you find the full-time course? Tell us about your experiences.
It was a lot of hard work, but it really paid off. Everyday was different and I learnt so much more than I imagined. It felt like I was going to work everyday—the briefs are very similar to ones you would get in the real world and it was amazing to get feedback from professionals. It went by so quickly and I’m very happy I have a lot of work and a full portfolio to show for it.
You had some self-taught design skills before the course—how did the course build on what you already knew?
It was useful to have some design knowledge behind me but Shillington taught me so much more.
I finally learnt that grids existed and that I should not be typesetting in Illustrator (to be honest, I didn’t even know what typesetting was before the course). There is only so much that YouTube can teach you, but there is nothing like getting professional and industry relevant guidance.
My design skills have improved so much within the 3 months.
What was your favourite project you worked on at Shillington? Can you tell us about your process on it?
Hard question! But the handmade project was really fun. I decided to choose one of my favourite albums, Teens of Denial by Car Seat Headrest, and create an alternate cover. I wanted to make it simple, bold and a bit weird. I already knew what the album was based on, but did extra research which would help me come up with my concept. The album is all about growing up, drugs, alcohol, regret and growing from this. I opted for taking a cheap beer can, painting it white and placed flowers within in the can to symbolises growth from an unusual place. It basically represents the band members adapting from their past and becoming something much better.
The Leeds City Identity is also up there with one of my favourite projects.
Have you got any advice for anyone who wants to study at Shillington? And anyone who might want to apply for the scholarship in 2020?
Life is too short to be doing something you don’t love everyday. If you’re passionate about becoming a designer, then just go for it.
I am so glad I had the opportunity to do the course and I will never forget it. Just make sure you are committed and determined to giving it 100%. If applying for the scholarship, make sure you express how much you want it and show it in a way which is creative and honest. You don’t need design experience, you just need to be passionate about design and know it is the career path you want to take.
What are your plans now you’ve graduated?
I’m taking on freelance work whilst looking for a full time position!
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