Meet Arnold Omanyo, Shillington Scholarship Winner and UX/UI Designer at Digital On Demand

Arnold Omanyo longed for a career change, and winning a Shillington half scholarship helped him take the plunge to start his design journey! Even with no formal training before Shillington, after graduation he hustled, networked and got top advice from fellow Shillumni to eventually land a job as a UX/UI Designer at Digital On Demand.

Read on to hear more about Arnold’s winning scholarship entry, why he loves being a creative in Melbourne and where he goes for inspiration.

You won a half scholarship to study at Shillington in 2017. Tell us about your winning entry!

Yes I did! Can I just say how grateful I am to y’all for selecting me?! I honestly didn’t think I’d be chosen but when I found out I’d been selected, it affirmed that this was the right time to take the plunge!

For my entry, I wanted to think outside the box and do something unique and different to surprise the judges. So I collated all the bits and pieces of work I’d done over the years, built a website on Squarespace and displayed it all for them to view. I did some research into motion graphics and After Effects and put together an introduction video of who I am and why I think I should be chosen. I recorded a voiceover using my iPhone and pieced it all together! From there I wrote a brief essay on what I envisioned my future in design being like and how I wanted use my skills to contribute to spaces/countries overseas that are slowly awakening to the importance of good design.

It’s safe to say it was a lot of work, but it paid off in the end. Thank you again guys! 

What were you up to before Shillington?

Before Shillington I was working as an Engagement Coordinator within Telstra’s NBN department. Prior to that I also worked for NBN. I had worked within the IT/network space for a while and although I wasn’t bad at my job, it was work that wasn’t fulfilling. I didn’t feel it was my calling nor did I feel like I was utilising my gifts to the best of my ability.

Why did you decide to study design?

I had (unofficially) dabbled in bits of design in the past, but nothing that I’d now consider quality work! I have also been producing music since I was 13, so I’ve always been a creative guy. Then a couple years back, an ex-partner and I started a blog together—she was the face of the platform, and I did all her back-end/creative stuff (eg photo editing, video editing, music production, web design & branding)—and we were able to grow the platform to close to 100K followers. This experience is what sparked the idea of becoming a designer, because it came so easily to me!

To cut a long story short, I was very unhappy in the work I was doing and really felt I needed a change, so after almost 2 years of consideration, I decided to take the plunge and sign up!

What did it mean to you to win the scholarship?

Winning the scholarship was the confirmation I needed to take the plunge and start this design journey.

I’m a Taurus and we naturally step with caution, wanting to ensure our decisions are well thought through and as risk-free as possible haha. So, the scholarship was God’s/the universe’s way of saying “this is the direction you should be heading”. Not only that but it was an opportunity to prove to myself, my friends and family, and to Shillington that this is what I was born to do!

Congratulations! After graduating you landed a job as a UX/UI Designer at Digital On Demand. Tell us more about that hiring process and experience.

Thank you! Yes I’m currently a UX/UI designer. In terms of landing this job, the process was pretty seamless, however that was because I came at the right time. I spent about 2 months after finishing at Shillington applying to different places, cold calling, email and reaching out. After spending some time on the private Shillumni Facebook Group, I got some advice from a member suggesting I try a recruitment agency as they usually can help scout work. So, I reached out to an agency that’d reached out to me previously and set up a meeting. After about two weeks, they had secured an interview with a few top agencies, one of them being Digital On Demand. 

Can you share the process behind a favourite project from your Shillington portfolio?

Although I enjoyed the challenge of each project, my favourite was the brand identity for an app startup brief. We were each assigned a fictitious scenario and were asked to develop the brand identity and app design for this client. I was given a streetwear app that provided users access to the latest couture street fashion without having to line up at stores. Because users of this app are like a secret group of people in “the know”, I based the idea around the occult, secret societies and the illuminati, as they are seen as holders of information. The identity was dark and sinister and pushed the ideology of a cult—hence the name Cult of Adam. 

This process started off like most briefs at Shillington—research and planning. We started off by mind mapping and word generation techniques to help develop lateral thinking. The idea is to develop associations that can help tell a story and communicate an idea to potential users.

From there I researched on cults and the illuminati, symbolism and hieroglyphics, which helped form the basis of the logomark and the name.

I came across three ancient Egyptian glyphs meant “knowledge” “protection” and “insight” which were three elements I felt represented the users of the app. From this point, we developed a return brief, presented it to our teachers and once it was approved, we moved onto logo design, typography and all the other elements that formed the brand. I was super happy with my final result, because before anything else, I was able to capture a compelling brand story that backed my design decisions.

Why do you love being a creative in Melbourne?

Melbourne is incredibly rich in culture. I think it’s one of the few things we take for granted as Melbournians. After doing a bit of travelling I’ve realised we have a very strong appreciation for good design, for progressive and innovative art, and this transcends right through to our values and culture as a people. This means there’s always a creative event on, a meet and greet, or a convention where you can learn, engage and be inspired. So much so that I often find myself missing events or classes because I either hear about them late or they miss me!

I especially love events like Creative Mornings, events at the NGV and General Assembly. They’re a great opportunities for creatives to get together, network and be inspired.

Who were your Shillington teachers and what were the biggest lessons they taught you?

Chris Norman, Lucy Wells and Wayne Smith were my teachers! I appreciated each of their unique points of view and the fact they each came from such different walks of life. Their careers have exposed them to such varying areas of design, which means they come with unique perspectives.

The biggest lesson I took from them was the importance of remaining hungry and driven even after Shillington.

They believed in my skills and trusted that with the right guidance I could develop into an even better designer, and they encouraged me to seek a mentor, keep active and be open to any opportunities that came my way. They also really pushed me to challenge my skills, and try new ideas during class, which meant I came out with far better results in the end! 

What would you say to someone who’s thinking about studying at Shillington?

Its easy for me to say “just do it!” from this side of the conversation. So instead, I’m going to assure you, as someone who was once a cynic about whether I could change my career and circumstances in 3 months, going through this course will build more than just a needed foundation to build a career in design. It trains you to think and see the world as a designer, and establishes the confidence needed to promote yourself and your work to potential employers and studios. Trust the process, be patient with your growth, be hungry and driven to grow and see this as the beginning of a great, creative and successful career. Certainly do your research, read more of these reviews, educate yourself, and once you’ve decided this is what you want, Shillington will be there to do the rest. 

Where do you go for creative inspiration? Any favourite blogs/resources to share?

I have a few different resources but it depends on what type of design in working on/into at that moment. Lately it’s been heavily brand identity focused (within the fashion space), because I’m working with an international instagramer/fashion designer/photographer on developing her brand identity for her fashion brand. So, my teacher Lucy Wells put me onto the-brandidentity.com which has some amazing work on it!

Other great resources are High On Type, It’s Nice That, and Love Watts (art direction -focused). Other than that I love Behance’s search for specific design type. I usually jump on there and search “fashion brand identity” or “typeface design” and spend hours scrolling through the endless amazing work.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Thank you for the experience Shillington! A big part of my life has changed as a result of this experience and I’m so so SO excited to see where my career goes. Prospective students definitely consider Shillington as an option if you’re serious about a career in design.

Huge thanks to Arnold for sharing his Shillington story! Check out his website, Behance, and Instagram for more.

Do you want to study at Shillington? Scholarship announcements happening late June 2018. Stay tuned!