Finding himself unfulfilled with a job in the IT sector, years after studying design at University, James Hoang leapt at the chance to reignite his passion. Having been made made aware of Shillington by a recent graduate and friend he enrolled on the full-time course at Shillington London. Now, 6 months since graduating he’s settled into London based agency Pink Squid as a Junior Art Director.
We caught up with James to find out more about his experience at Shillington, what it’s been like working full-time in design and his advice to those currently studying.
What were you doing before Shillington and how did you hear about the course?
I was teaching English in Asia before I was working in the I.T sector. I left my job and a friend of mine had recently completed a Shillington course and explained why I needed to enrol. I researched into this more and was sold on idea straight away and signed up.
What attracted you to graphic design and did you have any reservations about changing careers?
I actually studied a degree in graphic design and illustration about 7 years ago, but then I had a huge gap where I moved away from the creative world. I was becoming increasingly frustrated knowing I wanted to be a graphic designer.
I needed to get back into design and Shillington was the perfect platform for me to get my passion back.
Tell us a bit about your experience of Shillington? Any stand-out memories?
Shillington was an amazing experience. Everyday presented us with new challenges, but the best thing about it was that we had both tutors and fellow students to discuss and solve problems together, that’s what what made it so enjoyable. We were all a close family! The briefs we work on at Shillington were very realistic and industry-relevant, which involved idea generation through to complete execution with tight deadlines.
My stand-out memory has got to be the portfolio stage in the final weeks. So we would have selected 6-7 previous works to go into our final portfolio and the aim would be to push them even further to industry standard. It was crazy and fast-paced just like in a design studio, but it was so rewarding getting your work signed off by the tutors and seeing just how much your work had developed.
Since leaving Shillington you were snapped up as a Junior Art Director at Pink Squid. Can you tell us a bit about what it’s been like working there so far?
Pinksquid has been a great experience so far. It’s a small a creative agency with big ambitions and they’re growing very fast! My role as an Art Director was daunting at first because it seemed such a big responsibility but I’m really enjoying it now. I’m involved in a lot of idea concepts and executions while working with other team members such as copywriters and project managers. We all have different skills to bring to the table and it really does bring the designs to life. Everyone is really positive and encouraging, and a bit mad!
Do you feel like Shillington prepared you for working in a studio as a Junior?
I have learnt so much from my time at Shillington and those skills have been transferred over to my design work life! I remember our tutors would make us thumbnail ideas on paper 100 times over, and now Its become a normal everyday process at work! The list goes on from finding daily inspiration for the Shillington exercise “I love these guys”, to being able to present your work and express your ideas, from taking software shortcut tests (SO HELPFUL) to meeting tight 1 day deadlines! The tutors were amazing and really knew what they are talking about.
After finishing Shillington, I felt I was ready to take on the professional design world.
Finally, what advice would you give to someone thinking of enrolling at Shillington? And for graduates about to enter the industry?
If you want to enter the design industry then Shillington is the perfect platform. It is unbelievable what you can pick up in a short space of time! You’ll need to be prepared to give it your all and to embrace everything that’s presented to you because it won’t be a walk in the park (that’s what makes us better designers!). Also, It really does help to have even the smallest idea of what you like about design and to be interested in it. As for graduates, don’t be afraid to try different design disciplines, it could motion graphics, Illustration, digital etc, that applies to job hunting too. Starting as a junior designer is all about exploring different avenues and finding out what suits you.
Are you thinking it’s time to go back to design? Or intrigued to start something new? Come visit us at a Shillington Info Session and find out more about studying graphic design with us.