Frankie Young was an Office Manager looking to upskill, never thinking that studying 9 months part-time at Shillington would lead her to start her very own design studio, Studio Neubau. Now she’s working with exciting, like-minded clients and creating beautiful work.
Read on to hear more about why Frankie was inspired to study design, details about her recent rebrand and why she loves Brisbane’s creative scene.
What were you up to before Shillington?
Just before I started Shillington I worked as Office Manager for a business consultancy. Part of my role was laying out internal reports for the consultants, and briefing larger jobs in to design agencies. I felt a little frustrated on both fronts, to be honest. The layout in Word was as painful as you can imagine, and I felt I wasn’t really able to get across what we wanted to achieve when talking to designers — because I just didn’t get what they were doing.
It’s funny now looking back that I only signed up to upskill. It wasn’t until a few months into the course that I realised just how much I cared and that this was actually my passion.
Everything just fell into place then.
Why did you decide to study design part-time? Why Shillington?
I took a Word template design training course run by a Shillo graduate (Rebekah is now the owner of Kboodl). Rebekah absolutely raved about the course and said I’d totally enjoy it. So the seed was planted and when I was looking for a way to upskill a few months later Shillington was front of mind.
Shillington was my final choice because it promised studio ready skills that where up to date with what the industry was doing — in such a short period of time and at an affordable cost. It had obviously been a great experience for Rebekah. The brief based learning in a studio environment felt like the perfect fit for me. And after seeing the quality of the student portfolios at one of the Information Sessions I was sold.
I chose the part-time course because I wanted to keep working in my admin job. Studying part time meant I could go to school straight from work, spend my days off with my family and then work on my design projects at night.
You recently rebranded and relaunched your venture, Studio Neubau. Tell us more about what you do!
Oh my god, I am so excited about this. Studio Neubau has been my freelance pseudonym since I graduated from Shillington. I was very fortunate in securing a full time designer role a few months after graduating and freelancing, which was amazing. During my time working for other studios I was exposed to a lot of different kinds of projects, from corporate collateral to food packaging and even a mural. It also taught me a lot about how to run a business, and what I wanted and didn’t want to adopt in my own practice.
After working for and with other studios I realised I wanted to be able to work with like-minded people, to partner with my clients and be selective in which projects I took on rather than saying yes to everything and everyone purely to make money.
I rebranded and rewrote my website to embrace this new, more mature outlook — really owning my approach and process, and who I want to work with.
I love branding, editorial and print design. So that’s what I focus on with Studio Neubau. Working with clients who have a similar aesthetic and appreciation for design means we inspire each other, which in turn enhances the final design outcomes. Design-minded clients see the value in the little details – the subtle differences that paper stock and print finishes make to business cards, for instance. If I have a client with a shared passion for magazine layouts or photography, there’s an instant connection where we just click and it sets the tone for the project.
What’s a recent favourite client project? Why?
I collaborated with two incredibly gorgeous and talented ladies last year. Working on the photography portfolio with Cathy Schusler evolved into logo design and duplex business card print. Cathy photographs a lot of architecture and we bonded over our mutual love for light and textures. I was so excited when she agreed to print her business cards using specialty stock to reflect her love of both. The contrast of the rough Curious Matter mimicking stone, against the soft and light Curious Skin reflects Cathy’s aesthetics beautifully.
It was actually those cards that led Lucy Jeffries to approach me. She’s a young architect and interior designer who after a number of years in practice was ready to take her business to the next level. We worked together to create a fresh identity that reflects her fresh design approach. The final design is a very clean platform for her clients’ lifestyle dreams to grow from. I loved how involved and passionate Lucy was throughout the process. A highlight was the business card print. We decided on super clean minimalist letterpress cards, and we had the opportunity to join Matt at the Lovepress for the print run. It was quite magical to be there as the card design was brought to life.
What do you love about the Brisbane creative scene?
I feel it is so welcoming and easy going. And it still has that ‘up and coming’ vibe, so there’s a drive and hunger to grow that I really love — there’s some cool event series going on. And we’ve got The Design Conference. It’s so great to see how much it has evolved.
What was your favourite project from your Shillington portfolio? Walk us through your process!
Handmade! The fact that we were ‘forced’ to step back from the computer and create something with our hands blew my mind. And the choice of the subject matter — choosing a music album or book to create a cover design for — made it a dream brief.
I chose “The Little Friend” by Donna Tart, which is a book that has always moved me — especially the scene where the heroine tries to rescue a black bird from the hot tarmac. She fails, and succeeds only in pulling the bird away while leaving the wing stuck to the tarmac. It’s such a critical moment in the book, capturing the loss of the heroine’s innocence so poignantly. That scene has always stayed with me.
But back to the brief – I had a really clear image in my head and no idea how to achieve it. I wanted to try watercolours, a medium I’d never used, for an inky and dramatic look. I went to Eckerlsey’s and bought a whole range of supplies and spent an entire day just drawing wings over and over until I had something I could work with. I then assembled the final design in Photoshop.
Who were your teachers and what were the biggest lessons they taught you?
Dahlia Ishak and Brenton Craig. I have so much love and respect for them. They are wonderful designers, teachers and humans. They both have very different vibes but one thing they share is their passion for design, appreciation of knowing your design theory and process – and never ending patience and care for their students. I doubted myself so much at every turn. They taught me to trust my instincts, stick with it and pushed me to work it till it’s right. Without them I would never have allowed myself to fully embrace my new found passion and go for a career as a designer.
What would you say to someone sceptical about Shillington’s fast-paced course?
There is nothing to be sceptical about. It really is just awesome. Whether you do part-time or full-time — you’re thrown right into it with your first brief due on the first day/night in class.
The briefs get more complex as you are taught new skills and at the end of it you are able to jump right into a studio and pick up a brief.
That’s because you’ve been taught how to take a brief, what questions to ask of your clients, and how to systematically reach a design response through your create process then get it to print, or online.
Who or what is inspiring you most at the moment?
I have been neglecting my love for type a bit of late, so I am on a massive Paula Scher fan-girl trip at the moment. I wish she was my fairy-godmother. She’s at Semi Permanent in Sydney later this year … I might ask her about it!
I also just recently started getting into podcasts – there are so many out there that are great for designers and solopreneurs. Issuu is great for browsing digital magazines, inspiration for my next personal project — stay tuned!
Would you like to change careers and eventually own your own design studio? Study design 3 months full-time or 9 months part-time at Shillington in New York, London, Manchester, Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane. –> shillingtoneducation.com