During her 10 years spent working in galleries across London, Shillington London graduate Rosylvia Wang was constantly coming across beautiful designs. These designs made her realise she had taken the wrong path. She enrolled on Shillington’s full-time course to shift gears and forge herself a new career. And it paid off! She’s now working back in the heritage sector but in a whole different way as the first ever Design and Brand Officer for Historic Houses, an independent UK-based historical association.
We caught up with Rosie two years after graduation to see how her design journey was going, to find out about combining design and any previous experience and more. Read on!
Before Shillington, you had a Television and Radio degree from the National Chengchi University in Taiwan and a Masters in History and Culture of Fashion from The London College of Fashion. Why did you choose to make the change over to design?
Imagine a teenage nerd dreaming to become influential and glamorous, like Anna Wintour. That was me. My younger self thought fashion journalism will morph me into an admired butterfly. Well, I still feel socially awkward today.
Instead of media or fashion, I worked in a gallery and a museum for nearly ten years after graduation. I learned that every piece of communication, such as an exhibit label, a leaflet, a projected graphic, a comment card and way-finding signage, is thoughtfully designed.
Effective designs have power. It made me want to design.
Why did you choose to study at Shillington? What made our design course stand out from the rest?
My full-time job back then consumed all my focus and energy. If I were to quit my job, my savings could only last several months.
A short, intensive, on-the-job style of programme was the most viable option to help me pivot towards design.
I wasn’t aware of any other course that caters for the needs of a career changer as well as Shillington’s.
Since you graduated, you’ve been working as Design and Brand Officer at Historic Houses. Can you tell us a bit about the company and the kind of things you work on?
Historic Houses is an association of independently owned historic houses and gardens with a mission to support and protect Britain’s independent heritage. I design membership cards, magazines, handbooks, info sheets, ads, banners, icons, branded stationery, packaging, graphics for digital screens; and deal with brand-related queries.
Is there a particular professional project from the last two years you’re particularly proud of? Can you tell us about it?
My role is the first and only in-house design role in the company. I have to be my own studio manager. Creating, implementing and improving scheduling and workflows is an ever-evolving project.
The process of design brings me joy; but managing to stay on top of all projects is challenging and makes me feel proud.
Before Shillington, you worked at the Museum of London and The National Gallery. Did your pre-design experience help you land your design job?
I believe so. Being well versed in a sector’s culture, values and challenges is a real asset. Many of us met during the design course worried that we only had ‘irrelevant experiences’. This seems to be a common insecurity for career changers to overcome.
Back to the course, what was your Shillington experience like? Did you face any particular challenges during the course?
Because I quit my job to attend the course, the stakes were high. My body soared with adrenaline every day because I was so scared to fail. It was a wonderful experience working alongside my classmates and tutors who deeply appreciate design.
Debunking my own unhelpful beliefs was the hardest for me. My crazy beliefs included: unless I know every single Photoshop trick, no one will hire me; if my work isn’t voted the best in class, I will never succeed; it’s just too late for me to get started.
The reality was, it’d only help if I learn more techniques each day; rework my design; and stop imagining that there is a finish line.
Did you have a favourite brief on the course? Can you tell us about your process and outcomes?
Creating a brand identity for a startup was immensely valuable. Everyone had to research and figure out the business’s unique selling point and business model, define demographic, create customer personas, and map out the brand’s value and strategy.
The most profound moment was to receive critiques from our tutors and peers from all walks of life.
I learned that I can speculate on the customers’ wants and needs to a great extent; but I won’t know the truth until I have listened to the customers.
What would you say to someone who is feeling a bit sceptical about the Shillington course?
Before I committed myself to the Shillington course, I did wonder, can’t I just search for tutorials online? In hindsight, it wouldn’t have worked for me.
My amazing tutors, who are experienced designers, drilled the ins and outs of a studio life into me.
Experiencing working as a designer is drastically different from following online tutorials for design software.
Anything else you would like to add?
Many readers discover the Shillington Design Blog when they look for an answer to their career direction. We wouldn’t be searching if nothing needs changing. But fear can easily lead us to believe that staying where we are is safer than moving into the unknown. The status quo has a sure high cost though — we hold onto our discontent and will always be wondering what if.
Big thanks to Rosie for sharing her design story with us! Make sure to keep up with what she’s working on by visiting her website.
Are you, like Rosie was, looking for a creative career change? Join Shillington’s graphic design course, in London, Manchester, New York, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane or Online, and become a graphic designer in as little as three months.