Javier Flowers and Mim Chadwick both studied at Shillington London, Javier back in 2016 and Mim at the start of 2020. Both have very different backgrounds, different inspirations and, given that the Covid-19 pandemic landed in the middle of Mim’s course, very different Shillington experiences. In early 2020, Javier landed himself a job as Senior Designer at Guild Esports, an London-based esports team. Once in the job, Javier needed to hire a Junior so turned to an old Shillington contact for help. He definitely came to the right place as Mim was soon hired as part of the team. Shillumni hiring Shillumni—it’s like music to our ears!
We caught up with both Javier and Mim to talk about hiring and being hired by a fellow Shillumni, their Shillington experiences and more.
Why did you choose Shillington? What made our design course stand out from the rest?
Javier: There are two reasons, the first reason was because the course simulates an agency environment and mentally prepares you for the fast pace of the industry. The second was because the full-time course only lasts three months and I couldn’t afford to study on a three year long degree.
Mim: I did a lot of research on where to study graphic design and took a lot of time to think it through. I looked very closely at what various different courses covered. I also got recommendations from as many people as I could.
After all that, Shillington was a relatively easy choice. Although the course is not cheap, having done it I can genuinely say it’s one of the best investments I’ve ever made in terms of my career. The 3-month, intensive in-person format of the course was a big plus for me.
What were you up to before Shillington? Why did you take the plunge and enrol?
Javier: I studied a degree in International Business back in Mexico but I knew it was not my passion. I was travelling in London and I became engrossed in the street art and this ignited my passion for design and art. Then I was waiting for the tube one day, saw an ad for Shillington and knew I could not pass on this opportunity.
Mim: I studied Art & Design at Leeds University and graduated in 2017. I wanted to adapt my skills to become a graphic designer and enrolled myself at The Graphic Design School which is a self-taught online program that took me a year to complete. Whilst completing the course, I picked up some small freelance jobs, for example doing flyer and logo designs for comedy clubs.
I really enjoyed the course and thought it was a great foundation to graphic design but I didn’t feel anywhere near confident enough to apply for Junior Designer positions. After hearing very positive reviews and seeing how short but intense the course was—I decided to enrol at Shillington!
Javier, you studied back with us in 2016 and Mim, you studied with us in January 2020 and the world changed a lot during your course. Can you both tell us about your Shillington experiences?
Javier: As a creative person, I was always interested in design but I never knew how to become a creative myself. I found the course a total life changer it opened my eyes to a creative industry that I had always wanted to be involved in.
Shillington gave me the tools and the direction to showcase my creativity, my talented teachers and peers gave me the drive to succeed within the industry.
Mim: I really enjoyed my time at Shillington. I loved all the projects—especially the handmade and campaign projects because you got to do something that was more personal to you. I found the classroom learning to be really beneficial to helping me feel more confident in my own design skills.
Unfortunately the Covid pandemic affected the end of my Shillington course, with the last two weeks moving online due to lockdown back in March 2020. At first, I found this really tough, as I’d been so used to the face-to-face contact time with the teachers but I soon adapted and finished my portfolio at home! The only lasting disappointment was that we didn’t get to have an in person grad show.
Can you tell us your favourite briefs from the course? Tell us your process!
Javier: It’s been a while but I remember one brief where we needed to create a brand identity for a multi-purpose indoor arena reflecting the essence of the city where it was located.
The city that I was given was Lisbon, a very challenging brief because I’ve never been there and I had to immerse myself in a culture that I don’t know. I really enjoyed the process of researching about such an amazing city, the fact that I was learning something new in order to get inspiration was an incredible experience. It is definitely something that I really love about this career, every brief is a new world.
Mim: I would have to say the campaign was my all time favourite project because it was a subject that was personal to me. My campaign was all about increasing the number of women in football stadiums. My process started when I was at Stamford Bridge watching Chelsea (pre-Covid) and noticed how few women were in the same area of the stand as my mum and I.
I started to think about the reasons why women might not feel comfortable in those stadiums and how you could develop a way to increase diversity. I wanted to create a visually impactful campaign and it was the brainstorming of visuals for this that I found the most exciting!
What have you both been up to since graduation? How has our life changed after Shillington?
Javier: As a foreigner and newbie to this industry, I would be lying if I told you that it was easy to find work. I threw myself into applying to literally everything I found on The Dots. After many, many knock backs, I got my first interview which was successful! I was hired as an intern for a company called Codec.
They needed an “expert” on InDesign in order to create professional reports for clients including brands such as Unilever and L’Oreal.
I believe I smashed it because 2 months later I was designing their website. Bear in mind that at this point I never designed a real website, I only knew what I learned in the course, but for them I was an expert, so I embraced it.
After a while, I realised that I was way too comfortable there and needed new challenges so I decided to try freelancing. Some time later I was doing a rebrand for The Hook Group, which is a social media publisher with a big following. They were pleased with my work and offered me a full-time role as the only graphic designer in the company. It was challenging because all the responsibility was on me.
Unfortunately back in March 2020, because of the pandemic, the company was sold and we all ended up unemployed. So there I was as a freelancer once again. By July, I had received a call from Danny Lopez who was Creative Director at The Hook Group. He was working for Guild Esports (David Beckham’s professional Esports team) and wanted me to do some graphics within a short timeframe for the company which literally just launched a few days before. He said to me if you smash it, I will be in a great position to offer you a full time role.
So, I took the opportunity and luckily they were that pleased with my designs that I was offered a Senior Designer role—I couldn’t believe it! In my head, I thought that you needed at least 5 years experience to become a Senior.
I think the key point here is not be disheartened. The right role is out there—you just need to not let the rejections grind you down. Once you get that opportunity make sure you work hard, be professional and be passionate, then the universe will do the rest.
Mim: When I graduated from Shillington in April 2020, we were in the height of the first lockdown in London. Many businesses didn’t know what their futures looked like, so there were very few jobs around. I wanted to continue designing though, so reached out to some grassroots football clubs to help them in any way that I could with their design.
In October, Andy Judd, Head at Shillington UK, reached out to me and put me in touch with Javi, another Shillumni, who was recruiting for David Beckham’s new esports company, Guild. I applied, got a job and that’s where I now work as Junior Designer.
You’re now both working together at Guild Esports, Javier as Senior Designer and Mim as Junior Designer. Are there benefits to working with a fellow Shillumni?
There are many benefits, but ultimately we follow the same creative process which makes the work flow easier, especially when justifying why we went for that specific route.
Mim: There’s definitely benefits to working with a fellow Shillumni. Javi and I share the same process and approach to design. For example, if I’m in struggling with a design, Javi will often remind me go back and repeat the brainstorm and concept creation process that we learnt at Shillington.
Javier, can you tell us your experiences of hiring a Shillumni? How did you go about it? What were the positives?
I was struggling to find the right candidate. We had a couple of designers but they couldn’t really handle the pressure—they simply weren’t ready. This is why I decided to contact Andy Judd, who was my teacher back in 2016, and asked him if there were any recent Shillumni that he could recommend (something I should’ve done in the first place)—that was when Mim appeared.
She was great in the interview so I decided to create a test brief and as soon as I saw her ideas I knew she was the right candidate. She showed the skills to survive in this crazy industry—the same skills that made me succeed.
Mim, can you tell us about your application and getting hired by a Shillumni? Did you approach it differently to how you would another role?
Not really, I tried to present myself and my work as positively, professionally and effectively as possible.
Could you both give us some advice; Javier for a Shillumni who is looking to hire another Shillumni? And Mim for a graduate who is actively looking for work at the moment?
A massive advantage is that they will follow the same creative process as you. But every person has a different style so you need to make sure that their style fits the project you are working on.
Mim: Don’t give up! I was really struggling to find a job after finishing Shillington, with job market shrinking rapidly due to the pandemic. I just kept doing my own bits of design in an area that I particularly love (football) and kept posting about it on Instagram and LinkedIn. I found LinkedIn to be a really helpful platform to get my work seen by a variety of people. Show people that you’re still actively designing, even when you’re out of work.
Back to your jobs, what kind of work do you create a Guild Esports? Could you both tell us about a recent project you’ve been working on? Or one you’ve been working on together?
Javier: An Esports team is like running a football team but on another level. The reason for its complexity is because we have players on different video games. That means different target audiences, with that in mind we have to create graphics for every tournament (match day, results, live now, etc.), design streaming shows, apparel graphics, players and content creators artworks and nire.
Mim and I have recently worked on a show called Super Streaming Sunday which is a streaming festival including big names such as Talia Mar and Tom Grennan. It was a great project to work on—we treated it as a music festival, in fact the brief title was the “Glastonbury of Guild Esports”.
Mim: We mainly focus on digital design. I do a lot of social media graphics across the different players and games that Guild represent. Javi and I recently worked on graphics for a mini digital festival called Super Stream Sunday. This was a really exciting project and something a little different to what we usually do!
What do you both get up to outside of work? Tell us more about what inspires you in your work and in your lives.
Javier: I am a huge fan of street art. In fact, it is my main source of inspiration. Every time I’m stuck, I like to walk around places like Shoreditch—it always helps to develop new ideas.
I also run a YouTube channel called art_e about street art mainly, where I talk about the artist and the story behind a mural. So if you find yourself stuck with an idea, maybe one of my videos will give you a different perspective than Pinterest!
Mim: Outside of work, not in a lockdown, I play football 4 times a week which keeps me pretty busy! I absolutely love the sport and have found that it really helps me creatively. I also love to go to exhibitions and I do a lot of floral embroidery.
Finally, If you could give one piece of advice to someone starting at Shillington, what would it be?
Javier: To think laterally, no matter what! They will push you to think that way in the course but it takes time to understand why you need to think like that. People are tired of designers that won’t go further than necessary and the only way to stand out from the rest is by coming up with fresh ideas and how do you that? By seeing the stuff that nobody else sees.
Immerse yourself in the experience. Put the hard work in and you’ll see the benefits when it comes to portfolio time but also make sure to enjoy it.
I’ve made some amazing connections and friends from the Shillington course!
Anything else you would like to add?
Javier: If you are reading this and are thinking to study at Shillington, all I have to say is that this course completely changed my life for good!
Mim: If anyone has any other questions about what it’s like at Shillington, just drop me an email and I’d be happy to try and help!
Are you a Shillumni looking to hire another Shillumni? Get in contact with your local campus team and they’ll be able to find the perfect fit. Also, make sure you request access to our new #Shillumni Slack channel with nearly 4,000 worldwide members!
Or maybe you want to become a graphic designer yourself? Learn more about Shillington’s 3 month full-time and 9 month part-time courses Online or on campus in New York, London, Manchester, Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane.