Katie Lodge has a very unique Shillington story. She’d already built a seriously impressive career in global real estate, but still yearned for a creative outlet and fresh direction. She decided to study design at Shillington Sydney for 9 months part-time, and amazed her teachers with superhuman hustle to juggle a high-profile job, motherhood and study.
Towards the tail end of her course, Katie spotted Vince Frost across the room at a charity event, introduced herself and ended up impressing him enough to inspire a brand new job, tailored to her expertise and newfound design skills … Business Development Manager at Frost* collective. Wowza!
Read on to hear more about why Katie chose Shillington (twice), how it felt to be a finalist for the 2017 AGDA Awards and where she goes for creative inspiration.
Before Shillington you built a seriously impressive career in a global real estate and project management business. Why did you make the bold step to study graphic design part-time?
Oh thank you (#blush) such a lovely thing to say! I have always been creative ever since I was little and somehow I ‘fell’ into architecture when I was studying art and design at college. That set me on an incredible path into the world of property and construction and I have worked in the industry for just over 16 years now. After graduating with a BaHons in Architecture in London, I later moved to Sydney where I worked hard and ‘climbed the corporate ladder’ to a senior position in a global real estate and project management business.
Whilst I absolutely loved it, I began to realise that I still had a strong yearning for a creative outlet to feed my soul.
I remember one of my architectural tutors (Tom Modeen) in London complimenting me on some of my work and saying that I had an eye for graphic design and that comment had always stuck with me and I had always been drawn to graphics and craft. For a long time I wondered what it would be like to study graphic design so I guess one day I decided to stop wondering and actually do it!
You were persistent to study at Shillington—enrolling first in 2010, but eventually studying in 2016! Why did you know it was the right study option for you?
Yes I certainly was! I had looked at a few different colleges and courses but Shillington really stood out to me for a couple of reasons, the first being the quality of portfolios that the previous students had produced and the second being the flexible study options. Shillington is a really great option for people who don’t want to spend three years getting a degree, but still come out of the course with a killer portfolio, armed with all of the practical skills you need to walk into a studio environment with confidence.
In 2010 I made the decision to study at Shillington. I paid my deposit and had my spot on the course only to find out a few weeks later that I was pregnant. Design was put on hold whilst I focused on (and juggled) motherhood and work. It was all consuming—long days, late nights, busy weekends, however I still felt a creative void in my life, so I reignited the idea of studying at Shillington and decided to once again pursue my passion for design as my daughter was starting school.
In February 2016, I bit the bullet and signed up again, deposit paid—check; shiny new Macbook —check; a belly full of excited butterflies—check!!!
The study options with full-time and part-time provided great flexibility and I guess for me, with a full time job and a five year old daughter, studying part time really was the only viable option. I had also studied part-time previously when I completed my Architectural degree back in London so I knew (sort of) what I was in for with managing my time and commitments.
Networking led to you to land a (created for you!) role at Frost* Collective, a top Sydney studio. Tell us about that hiring process.
After studying the part time course at Shillington Sydney, where I made life-long friends, learnt more than I possibly could have imagined, laughed, cried, and then laughed some more, I was ready to start another new chapter in my life. I didn’t really have a ‘plan’ for life after Shillington, but I knew that I wanted to be surrounded by like-minded, creative people.
A month before I was due to graduate, I was at a corporate charity evening with property professionals, consultants and CEOs raising money to help create a better life for children and young people in care, when I spotted Vince Frost across the room. I had been following the beautiful work of Frost* Collective from afar for a number of years so I recognised him straight away. After plucking up the courage to walk over and introduce myself, we quickly got into a great conversation about the industry—both creative and property—and arranged to meet the following week at the studio.
We hit it off straight away and within just a few weeks were talking about me joining the Frost* Collective in a brand new role that didn’t even exist yet!
I graduated from Shillington a few weeks later with a portfolio I was very proud of. In April 2017 I joined the incredible studio of Frost* Collective as Business Development Manager, working closely with Vince and the team to help grow the Collective.
Every day at Frost* I’m surrounded by inspiring creatives, fantastic colleagues and clients and design that makes my soul feel complete.
You were a finalist for the AGDA Awards in 2017! Tell us about that project.
Yes! Oh my goodness what an amazing surprise that was! In October 2017 I was announced as a finalist in the AGDA student awards which I was thrilled about! I was incredibly flattered that my work had been chosen and shortlisted. It was my favourite project from Shillington and one that I am most proud of, as I think it really speaks to my graphic style and outgoing personality.
The Country Women’s Association (CWA) is known for fundraising, lobbying and baking. However there is also a perception by some, that that the organisation is slightly old fashioned. The brief was to create a campaign event to change these views and appeal to a more diverse audience.
I came up with the idea and concept of an event that hosting and event in the form of a baking competition that would draw upon the culinary traditions of the CWA (with a twist). Using a slightly “tongue in cheek” approach in order to appeal to a younger male demographic, the phalic fruit and vegetables are tied to baking recipes featured in the competition.
It was such a fun project to design and execute so I blown away when it was chosen as a finalist project in the AGDA awards for Print.
What advice would you give to a Shillington student on day one?
Ditch the nerves, embrace it, throw yourself into it and don’t worry about what other people think. You get to do fun little exercises on the first day that will probably feel a bit out of your comfort zone, but just enjoy it and don’t take yourself too seriously. Take the time to say hello to each and everyone of your new classmates. There will be lots of people from different backgrounds, professions, each with a unique story to share. Also, get comfortable away from the computer and use every opportunity you can to use good old fashioned pen and paper to get your ideas down.
Where do you go for creative inspiration?
These days in the Frost* studio I am surrounded by lots of creativity through the projects we work on, but I also browse the Yellowtrace daily newsletter for interiors and architectural inspo and often refer to Designspiration. I’m also a massive Instagram scroller but two of my favourite designers at the moment are CJ Hendry whose hyper photorealistic pencil and pen drawings are incredible, and Camille Walala who designs the most beautiful bright, bold, geometric graphics and does some really fun collaborations.
Where can we follow you online (website, Instagram, Twitter, etc.)?
My portfolio from Shillington can be found here and you can also find me and follow me on LinkedIn. My Instagram account, which is basically my life’s canvas, combining fun, family, work and design is @ohmyquad2017 (I bought a training shirt for the gym a couple of years ago that said Oh My Quad and loved it so pinched the idea for my IG!)
I would strongly suggest also checking out Frost* collective to follow my studios incredible work! We have an amazing intern program where you get the chance to learn from some of the industry’s best.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Be brave, chase your dreams (even though the juggle and struggle will be real!) and network your little socks off wherever possible – you never know who you might meet and where that conversation will lead!! Everyone (and everything) comes into your life for a reason.
Thank you Shillington!!!