Miranda Mayne was a stand-out student from our last #shillomel Graduate Exhibition. She came to Shillington from Perth with some self-taught design knowledge, but the course helped refine her skills, develop a top-rate portfolio and launch her own freelance business, Mira Design. Today we hear about her creative journey, her favourite Shillington brief and what’s on the horizon back home in Perth.
What were you up to before Shillington?
I started studying Creative Advertising and Graphic Design at university, but I found it very slow and eventually lost interest. I knew I wanted to be a graphic designer, but I knew university wasn’t the right path for me. I tried to take on as many freelance jobs as I could during that period to keep adding to my skill set. This is when I launched Mira Design. I eventually picked up a job at my friend’s startup company Mighty Design Co. and had the awesome opportunity to re-brand a burger place in Perth called Johnny’s Burgers. On top of Mira and Mighty I was also working for Nations Church as their media designer. I learnt how to animate, made flyers, taught volunteers, made videos; whatever they needed really.
But I was still not satisfied with the work that I was putting out, it just wasn’t as good as I knew it could be. I always had my eye on Shillington—ever since I first found out about it when I was on my school leavers in London. The fast-paced intensity of the course really appealed to me, especially because I was aware of how fast the industry can be.
I was seeking adventure, fresh perspective that I could get in a different city, so I moved to Melbourne to go to Shillington. Moreover, I was passionate about learning and growing and I really felt that the course was best suited for my learning style.
A big decision-maker for me was being able to attend one of the information nights, meeting the tutors and seeing the atmosphere they set. So I made the huge decision to enrol and spent the next year saving up for the course and living expenses in Melbourne. I had never done anything like this before, although I was nervous I felt a huge sense of excitement for what was ahead.
How did the course build your skill set?
I had some design experience going into the course, but I was mostly self-taught so I still felt like I didn’t know a whole lot. Google and design blogs were my best friends!
I think the course gave me a solid foundation in design, and having that foundation made me more confident in making design decisions and approaching briefs. Shillington taught me the value of concept-driven design and how important it is to be intentional with every element within a project.
I believe great design is the harmony of concept and form.
I was just out of high school and looking for direction and growth. I had been freelancing for a year and I knew my work wasn’t where I wanted it to be, but I knew university wasn’t getting me where I wanted to go. I was really looking for something a little more structured to the real world, something that could push me creatively as well as prepare me for the industry.
I was really impressed with how Shillington structured their course and how they based their teaching style on real-life briefs. The class was set up like a real-life studio and we were treated more like junior designers than students.
What do you love about being a designer?
Design is such a beautiful and powerful thing! It’s so hard to put into words how passionate I feel about it, but I think the thing I love most about being a designer is how much you can say with so little. I struggle to verbally communicate things sometimes, so the ability to communicate visually is a gift I will always cherish.
After studying at Shillington, I think my perspective changed more than anything. I am much more of a confident designer, because I have a solid foundation in design.
Shillington has made me realise how far I have to go, but at the same time how capable I am to get there. As for work, I am still freelancing but aiming towards working internationally and one day opening my own studio.
One of my favourite projects was my Dead Good chocolate packaging. The brief was to design a product and packaging that appealed to a specific demographic. Each student was given a different demographic along with a product, and I was given “chocolate for bikies”. This brief stood out from the rest for me because it really pushed me out of my comfort zone. It took a lot of research to wrap my head around the visual language surrounding ‘Bikie Gangs’ and go beyond the expected outcomes.
The teachers made us focus on developing a unique story behind each product, which was an approach I had never taken before. My product revolved around the the idea that the chocolate was produced underground and was poisonous or dangerous to eat. I experimented a lot with different illustrative techniques and mediums, referencing; home-made tattoos, materials and colour palettes often associated with the bikie culture.
A studio that is really inspiring me at the moment is Syfon Studio, that do an exceptional job with concept-driven design. They believe that solid research is the key to creating cutting-edge graphic concepts. They make the client part of the process by ensuring that they have a say during the conception phase. That way they can identify with the final result of the studio’s work.
But I try not to solely look at design inspiration—I try and experience as many different things as I can, like just going somewhere I haven’t been before. I believe new experiences can be one of the most inspiring things.
Where do you see yourself in 12 month’s time?
I hope to be working somewhere overseas, it’s so inspiring to be in a new culture and out of your comfort zone. But above all I want to still be in a place where I am learning and growing in my design and self.
What do you love about living in Perth? How do you find the creative scene?
I love Perth’s laid back culture, weather and of course the beaches! Perth’s creative scene is pretty small and still developing, but I think it has grown rapidly in the past few years.
You can see Perth is hungry for creativity, there’s a real appetite for seeing new work, local work.
Perth has some amazing local street artists like Amok Island, Sean Morris and Anya Brock. I think Perth’s street art is quite different to other cities I have visited. Last year Perth held its first street art festival, PUBLIC. Over 50 international and local artists came and left their mark in the city and its suburbs.
I think Perth is in a real transitioning stage, its creative scene and personality is only just being pioneered. It’s really amazing being a part of it, and seeing it grow and develop.
The course really stretched me as a person and as a designer. The long hours and pressure of putting out good work every day pushed me to my limits. But seeing the growth and the fruit from all the hard work makes every second worth it. I saw how far I could push myself, and how much I could actually do.
I think the biggest thing I learnt about being a designer is how important it is to push yourself to learn, grow and improve. And to focus on the learning and not so much the outcome. In other words “don’t seek praise, seek criticism”.
What would you say to someone who is sceptical about the Shillington course?
Shillington has hands-down been the best thing I’ve ever done! Having experienced university and college, I think it is far better suited to the creative industry.
I have heard of so many people who come out of university and feel so overwhelmed by the industry, they really struggle to adjust to the time pressures. But I feel confident going out into the world because I already know how much I can achieve in a high-pressure, time-sensitive situation.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone starting at Shillington, what would it be?
This is some advice my tutors gave to me on graduation “don’t seek praise, seek criticism” and it’s so true! As creatives it is so easy to fall into the trap of being driven by people’s affirmation. You will never be able to please everyone. However painful, constructive criticism of your design work is the most effective way to grow as a visual communicator.
There’s a great quote from Mother Teresa: “If you are humble, nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are.” Step out of your comfort zone and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. In fact, make as many mistakes as you can. Shillington is the perfect place for it!
Listen to your teachers, honour their wealth of knowledge and understand you are still learning and developing. Push yourself to learn, improve and achieve!