Meet Jessica Bakker, Shillington Graduate and Junior Graphic Designer at Beyond Communications

Jessica Bakker changed careers—and countries!—after studying 9 months part-time at Shillington Brisbane. Read on to hear about the process behind her industry-recognised packaging brief, what’s inspiring her at the moment and how a role shared in our private #Shillumni Facebook Group landed her a job at Beyond Communications in London!

What were you up to before Shillington?

I studied a bachelor of photography in creative advertising and marketing, did some internships in a start up clothing boutique and for Style Magazines. On weekends I would organise photoshoots with models, makeup artists and stylists to give my folio more variety and also because I love exploring new places! 

Why did you decide to study design?

Although I loved photography and wanted to fulfil my childhood dreams of becoming a famous international fashion photographer for Next Top Model, I realised that theres more opportunities out there if I build on my skill set. I definitely struggled to decide what direction to take next and I didn’t want to go back to university to study for another three years. From the moment I saw Shillington’s Instagram and how good the graduates’ work was I knew I had to go there.

Congratulations! After graduating you moved to London and landed a design role at Beyond communications. Tell us about the steps behind that bold move.

 I have grown up loving travel and going on adventures, and there is only so much you can see and do when you grow up in Brisbane. It’s been one of those thoughts that had been in the back of my head for a long time. So I thought if I move to London and set myself up with any sort of job initially, maybe I can take the time to search for a graphic design job and get something later on. I found out about the role on the Global Shillington Graduates Facebook page and decided to apply for the role. A week later I flew in to London on the Saturday, lined up the interview for the Monday and I got the job on the Tuesday! It was a crazy couple of days, that’s for sure!

It was the coolest thing ever knowing that although I studied design on the other side of the world in Brisbane, I could get a job straight out of study in London because of Shillington!

What was it like juggling full-time work and part-time study at Shillington?

It was a bit of a juggle working full time and studying part time, but I loved it! The work load in part time is really good, it’s not super overloading but you still feel like you are learning so many new things each week. Plus the tutors know you are working full time and there may be weeks that you struggle so it’s really accommodating.

My tip is just be organised from the beginning and get into good habits early! Also making friends in your first couple of weeks really helps because you can then bounce ideas off people throughout the week, or ask them questions if you missed something.

Did you feel confident applying for jobs with your Shillington portfolio? What were your interviews like?

Definitely, Shillington really helped me feel confident applying for jobs and going to interviews! Or at least as confident as you can be as a Junior Designer fresh out of study. I was happy with the work I was producing from Shillington and it helped a lot knowing the tutors don’t let you put in work that they don’t think is up to scratch. 

What’s your typical day like as a designer? What’s it like being a creative in London?

My typical day as a designer varies quite a lot! It all depends on the deadlines of certain projects as to how stressful or chill the work load is. I work with 2D designers and 3D designers so we have projects that start in 2D for branding and concept development, then 3D take our designs and continue the project which can be quite cool to see!

Projects vary from little branding projects, creating icons, putting together mood boards and decks, event branding roll out, client meetings, social media work and even things like shop front window designs!

Coming from a photography background I have been labelled the studio paparazzi now as well so occasionally I walk around photographing projects we are working on, or the team working on different things which is fun! 

We love Lite Loaves, the packaging project from your design portfolio, which was recently featured on Packaging of the World! Can you tell us about the process behind it?

Thank you! Lite Loaves was actually one of briefs I struggled with the most ironically enough! I knew the concept I wanted to roll with straight away, doing the research and putting the mood boards together was the easiest bit. However, executing the ideas was a real struggle. I tried illustration, I also tried cutting out cardboard clouds and photographing them but it wasn’t looking the way I wanted it to. Each time I would come back to my mood boards and think, nope thats not as good and my tutors pushed me to explore and push the concept as much as I could. It got to a stage at the end where we were tossing up whether or not to include this brief in my folio. At that point my teacher Kieryn Humphries sat down with me and helped me through it and instantly it went from being the worst brief to the best one! Cutting the boxes and photographing the designs were the final touches that tied everything in together. 

Who or what is inspiring you creatively right now?

I have a couple of things that inspire me. Alice, the head graphic designer at Beyond Communications is inspiring me, working beside her and seeing the quality of work she produces and her awesome illustration skills definitely is inspiring me to learn more in illustration! She has the same mentality as the Shillington tutors as she’s constantly looking for ways to improve and grow in the quality of design work she produces, and she is helping me to do the same which is really cool.

Travelling definitely inspires me creatively, just being out of my everyday surroundings where nothing feels same old same old (which right now is everything), seeing different shaped buildings or different cultures really helps challenge your perspective! 

Anything else you’d like to share?

If you’re a Shillington graduate looking for work, try and see if you can work somewhere there is another designer who has been to Shillington. It’s not always possible to have it that way but it makes such a difference! When you’re working with other designers regularly you learn overtime how they do things, and when you are working with other Shillington grads you have an instant advantage because you learnt design the same way they did.

Huge thanks to Jessica! Be sure to check out her website and follow her on Instagram

Would you like to study design and change careers (and countries!) like Jessica? Study design 3 months full-time or 9 months part-time at Shillington in New York, London, Manchester, Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane –> www.shillingtoneducation.com