Shillington London graduate Lucas Garcia was balancing life as a father and a fine artist, but always wanted to take his creativity further. A fortunate encounter with a Shillington poster on the Tube quickly turned into him applying for the full-time course and, three months later, he graduated with a killer portfolio. Lucas soon entered the industry with internships at Magpie and Beach, before landing himself a role at Winkreative—where he works ‘til this day.
We caught up with Lucas to talk doing the full-time course with a young family, internships and making the transition from illustrator to designer.
Thinking back, what made you choose Shillington? What made our course stand out?
I saw the ads on the underground when I was at a turning point in my life. I was trying to make it work being a painter and illustrator and having a child, but I needed another string to my bow.
I chose Shillington for the practical nature of it. I couldn’t spend another three years studying—and I really needed to hit the ground running on the other side of it.
Before the course you were already an illustrator and fine artist, why did you choose to make the change over to design?
The obvious reason is having a family, and the unstable nature of those careers, but there was definitely more to it than that. The world of illustration is one which rewards a defined style or voice, but when you’re starting out, saying yes to everything you’re asked to do makes this difficult to achieve. I also realised that the commissions I was getting didn’t necessarily have much room for creativity, and that the decisions had been made further up the chain by designers. At Shillington, this realisation crystallised and I saw that graphic design is wildly creative.
Were you able to use your existing skills on the course and in your career since?
My background has definitely given me opportunities since leaving Shillington.
If you can draw in a design context, your skills will be used in one way or another. Being able to produce illustrations in-house is definitely appealing for a design studio.
To have someone close to a project working on the illustrations can be a more seamless process than commissioning an illustrator from outside.
Ironically I have since had better illustration opportunities since studying design. While I was at Magpie, I had the chance to work on a large suite of illustrations for an art therapy brand called Magic Canvas (which went on to win several awards!)
Before making the switch I was worried I’d be leaving behind everything I had learned before but it hasn’t been the case at all. Now my title at Winkreative is Designer/Illustrator, so I am often working on illustration briefs, whether that’s concepting characters for a branding project, illustrating maps, or editorial illustrations…
What was your favourite brief on the course? Tell us your process!
My favourite brief was the startup ID, as it opened my eyes to everything a brand could be, and how many creative opportunities there are when building out a brand world. I was really encouraged by the tutors to imagine all the ways the brand could exist, what for, and all the playful moments that could entail.
You did the full-time course with a young family at home. Do you have any advice for other parents who want to make the change over to design?
I would say if you’ve planned it beforehand and you know what you’re getting into then there’s nothing to fear!
Having had children it may feel too late to make a sudden career change but once you’re sure about it then the sooner the better.
Read more about Lucas’ and four other Shillington graduates’ experiences of studying whilst raising a family, here.
What have you been up to since graduation? How has your life changed after Shillington?You’re now working at Winkreative, can you tell us about the role and what kind of things you work on?
After graduating I did two internships at Beach and Magpie. Sadly my time at Magpie came to an end when COVID struck, but I fortunately started working on the subscription based pasta delivery brand Nonna Tonda, which was originally done at Beach. I then spent a year working at Bolter, until last November, when I got the job at Winkreative.
At Wink, we really do work on projects across all sectors and sizes. Recently I worked as part of a small team on an identity for a German cosmetics company from start to finish. It’s amazing to be working in a place with high standards, and naturally this brings some pressure, even if only from yourself. But it’s a pleasure to work with many inspiring people.
Are you still illustrating alongside your main design role? Either personally or professionally, we’d love to hear about it!
One project that is very close to my heart is something I started working on in lockdown with my friend Boris, who I met at Shillington. It’s a picture book about the physics of every day things, which we sometimes take for granted. Time is not something abundant in my life at the moment with children and work, but it is moving steadily forward. Sadly I can’t show anything from it yet but watch this space!
Finally, if you could give one piece of advice to someone starting at Shillington, what would it be?
I would say go with it, and be open, commit as much you can to it, and enjoy it as it goes quicker than you expect. But don’t assume that learning about design finishes when you graduate either…