From Football to Design—Rory Knibbs, Shillington London Graduate

Rory Knibbs was living and playing football in sunny California, which may seem pretty ideal, but something was missing—he had always dreamt of being creative. This dream brought him back to London, where he enrolled in Shillington and graduated as a full-fledged designer three months later. Since he graduated in 2017, he completed a couple of internships before landing an amazing job at The Midnight Club, an super stylish agency in Shoreditch, East London.

Why did you choose to study at Shillington? What made our course stand out?

Coming back to London after studying in California, I knew I wanted to be creative, and the Communications degree I got didn’t fulfil that.

I got into a art foundation course but the thought of doing another four years of university was a bit daunting and I wanted something quicker. Someone told me about Shillington and it sounded the perfect fit.

You graduated two years ago, what have you been up to since? How’s the design world treating you?

After finishing Shillington in December 2017 and having a short, well deserved break, I quickly found myself in an internship with Twin Magazine working on their 18th biannual issue. Working with a small intimate group of talented creatives was the perfect introduction into the design world, with the magazine allowing me to continue to learn. Once finishing the internship, a friend of mine connected me with the team at The Midnight Club where I have been ever since!

You’re now working for Shoreditch-based agency The Midnight Club. Can you tell us a bit about the agency?

The Midnight Club is a creative agency based in Shoreditch, London, a majority of the agency’s work is with sports brand Adidas. I have a sporting background, playing semi-professional football in America, and The Midnight Club has a passion for high quality, progressive creative work—so I thought it would be a good fit.

What have you been working on there? Can you take us through a recent professional project?

Since joining the club I have worked some amazing projects, ranging from smaller jobs, such as retail installs, to larger branding projects for the 2018 World Cup last summer. One recent project I worked on was designing the Evening Standard’s, a daily London newspaper, cover wrap promoting the new Adidas Futurecraft Loop shoe. The concept behind the piece was inspired by the 100% recycled shoe, wanting the reader to think again about recycling and how the futuristic the recycling process of the new shoe is.

Before Shillington, you were playing football in San Jose, California. Why did you make the move back to London and into graphic design? We’re guessing it wasn’t the weather.

Playing football in California was a dream come true, but unfortunately my visa had ran out which I thought was a good excuse to move back to London—arguably one of the best places in the world for art, culture and design.

I thought there would be no better place to start my career in design than the cultural hub that is London.

Yeah, the weather has been the thing I’ve probably missed most. Waking up to 25+ degrees celsius everyday makes life that bit easier. I do definitely see myself moving back out there in the future, having a studio on a beach, designing away.

What inspires you? Do you seek out inspiration or does it just come to you day-to-day?

As cliche and artsy as this may sound, it’s other people that inspire me.

I am constantly seeing designers in all forms, whether that’s fashion, product design, graphic design or many other platforms push the boundaries and challenge all rules.

I think we presume that everyone just comes up with these amazing creative ideas by themselves, but like Jaden Smith once said, “I’m using the ladders someone else has built to develop on.” I’m pretty sure it was something like that. But that really is true—whether you think you saw something and actually it was a mistake, or you see someone else’s work and get inspired by it, we are all helping each other in a roundabout way.

Did you have any previous design experience? Did Shillington develop this or did you head in blind?

I did graphic design as a GCSE, however it was more product design based. Then I went into a more art route when doing A-Levels. So,  I would say I went into Shillington pretty blind of any design experience. Photoshop was the only program I used, but I had completely forgotten everything before starting Shillington.

Did you make any meaningful connections during the course? Are you still in touch with any you studied with?

Yes! I made some great connections at Shillington. I got both my internship and job through someone at Shillington—thanks Natalia! I also made a close friendship with Tom Noon, who I still see regularly and have worked on numerous projects with. We are currently in the starts of creating a zine together titled ‘Two Things at Once’—which I’m going to use this as the official press release for, so do keep an eye out!

If you could give one piece of advice to someone starting at Shillington, what would it be?

Buy into it. If you are serious about wanting to be a designer, then not only buy into the course, but buy into the world of design.

As I previously mentioned I am totally absorbed by this world, and as a result I haven’t stopped developing and learning.

Many thanks to Rory for sharing his story with us! In his words his “website is in the works—which honestly means I don’t have time to do it, and haven’t started it yet.” But, make sure to follow him on Instagram to check out his work and keep up to date with what he’s up to. 

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