Q&A with Andy Tharagonnet

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Andy Tharagonnet was working in IT support for nearly seven years when he realised it was time for a change. He graduated from #shillolon three months ago, and has already landed internships at top agencies Pentagram and Ogilvy & Mather. No doubt he has quite the creative career ahead of him!

Tell us about your time at Pentagram! How long was the internship and what did it entail?

It was a week placement, on Naresh Ramchandani’s team (communications). The team really utilised me as they would a junior designer—there was no tea-making or photocopying. It was straight to work making changed to designs for a client on a live project following feedback they had received that morning.

How did you land the opportunity? 

The opportunity came from talking to Laura Richardson from The Dots at the Graduate Exhibition. I saw her approaching my portfolio and she had been in to the college to tell us about what she does. So I took my chance to talk her through my work. She took my details and passed it on to Naresh from Pentagram and suggested we meet so I can show him my work. The following week I was in the hallowed HQ of Pentagram showing one of the partners my portfolio. I was pretty much in a state of disbelief.

The thought that five months ago I was sat at a desk in a job that was crushing my soul, and now I’m embarking on a career as a graphic designer—starting with a placement at one of the largest and most coveted agencies—was mind blowing.

What was day-to-day like?

I went in very enthusiastic every day and was ready to work on whatever they threw at me, which was some design changes, new layout ideas, imagery selection, research, digital ads, web banners and even some voice over and ad hoc photo shoots. The team were really good and happy to help with any questions and offered feedback on work. The experience really gave me a taste for studio and life and made me more eager to get straight into a job.

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What was the most surprising thing you learnt?

Just how much Shillington teaches you in three months and genuinely how it is structured to get you studio ready, I was scared that I would be out of my depth, but I was more than fine and felt confident doing everything that was asked of me. And even the “boring jobs” I found fun.

Want to give a shout-out to any Pentagram staff who were especially encouraging or inspiring?

I was working closely with Lizzie Reid and Hannah Jarratt mainly, both of whom who were great to work with as were the whole team. They were friendly, hard working and encouraging with the work that they set and really made me feel like part of the team even though it was just a week. Whilst I was there, Lizzie also attended a workshop one evening to give a talk to some teenage girls to promote women working in design, it was really nice to see the team’s interests outside of the studio. Genuinely it was a great week, and possibly the only time I have not wanted the weekend to come early.

What was the biggest lesson you took away?

Don’t be shy, a friendly smile gets you a long way.

Always try and be positive and eager to work and most importantly eager to learn.

Why did you decide to take the plunge and enrol?

I never intended to to work in IT, but kind of got stuck in a rut. I didn’t really enjoy the job. There was no job satisfaction, nothing spurring me on to excel and no creativity. Each day was pretty much the same as the last. It came to the point where I thought “enough is enough” and decided to jump feet first into a new career. I had seen the course advertised and had been saving for it, but something had held me back, and I think that it was fear that I might not be good enough. But as soon as the course started, I realised that enthusiasm and passion for design would carry me through till I learnt the skills that the course would teach me.

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What was your biggest challenge during the course?

In previous education, I always found that my biggest hurdle was deadlines. I am a procrastinator and will leave as much to the last minute as possible. So going in to the course I was very mindful that this would be a challenge. The intensity of the course didn’t really allow me to leave work till the 11th hour, we were working on short deadlines so it was pretty much hit the ground running, and I really loved that. Even know thinking back I am a bit staggered about how much you learn and achieve in just 3 months.

What was your favourite student brief?

From the get go I knew that my favourite brief would be the handmade one. I love making things, and had recently taken up origami so genuinely thought I would be making some paper creation but the tutors really encouraged you to go all out and push your creativity, although I’m sure when I pitched the idea of carving wooden pipes in their heads they must have been thinking “er ok…and you have never done carving before”. I was over the moon with the end result and will remain one of my favourite briefs for a very long time.

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How did you feel whilst celebrating at the Graduate Exhibition?

I think the overwhelming feeling was that of pride, not only for what I had achieved but also the rest of my classmates. The buzz in the gallery was electric and just looking around and seeing my friends showing off their work to friends, family and industry, made all the hard work and sleepless nights worthwhile.

Any tips for fellow Shillington grads starting their first internship?

Try not to be nervous, remember that the studio chose you for a reason. Shillington prepared us well for a studio, so just try and remember what they taught us and be yourself. Oh and thumbnail 😉

Huge thanks to Andy for sharing his story! Be sure to check out his work online and follow him on Instagram.

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