Thoughts and Advice from Meaghan Elyse, Shillington Graduate

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Meaghan Elyse is definitely a go-getter. An award-winning Fine Art and Art History graduate, she studied at #shillony to develop her technical skill set and launch the creative career of her dreams. Now she works at St. Lukes in London, executing briefs for clients like Heineken and Strongbow, whilst spending her spare time on freelance projects like book, logo and website designs. 

Have a read to learn why Shillington was a smart career step, feeling disoriented during the start of the course and the value of  “holding your horses”. We’ve also sprinkled in some of her portfolio work and gorgeous Instagram snapshots from throughout the course!

What were you up to before the course?

I graduated with a degree in Visual Arts and had been working as an assistant and designer for an online fashion photography gallery, filling the rest of my time as a hostess at the restaurant at the Whitney. Keen to find full-time work, I sent out my art portfolio hoping some design team might see potential simply through my drawings. Needless to say it was a fairly hopeless pursuit. I knew I needed to hone my skills to develop a graphic design portfolio, so when I stumbled upon this course I knew it was the best next step.

Tell us about some of your creative pursuits before Shillington.

My mum runs a children’s book publishing company, Barefoot Books, so growing up I was always surrounded by colour, stories, and beautiful artwork. Friends describe the inside of our house as something out of a fairytale! The aesthetic of her books has bled into our lifestyle, and from her I have developed a taste and appreciation for high quality design. We created a little Barefoot library in Senegal together a few years ago, to share beautiful Wolof and French books with these children. Being creative has always been a part of my life and taken on different forms, whether it was drawing on converse shoes as a teenager, doing commissioned family portraits, or building up a large body of strange sculptures, performances, and paintings for my senior thesis. I guess I’ve always been fairly entrepreneurial about it.


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Why Shillington?

Naturally I was attracted to the short duration of the course. I had explored the idea of graduate school but the application process felt lengthy and I just didn’t want to be in school for so long. Really I just needed this skill set to find work, so when I stumbled upon an advert in a British web design magazine a week before the course started, I signed up straight away! Bit crazy really, but it felt right.

I was first exposed to the Adobe Suite during an architecture course four years ago. I had a wonderful design mentor at Barefoot who taught me all she knew about InDesign, and independently improved my skills by designing posters and CD covers for my a cappella group. That said, at Shillington you’re asked to forget old habits of working in order to learn new short cuts and proper practices, streamlining your design process tremendously. Starting from scratch was so beneficial.

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How did you find the classroom environment?

I truly enjoyed coming into class each morning. I was grateful for the structure and rigor of the full-time course.

The environment was warm and supportive, while fostering enough independence to get the intense workload done.

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How did you feel at the beginning versus the end of the course?

To be honest I was fairly disoriented at the beginning. I was keen to keep applying for work in order to “stay ahead of the game”, but the truth is you can’t do that unless you have a polished portfolio.

So, hold your horses and trust your teachers 🙂 Everyone has something to be proud of at the end— I know I did!

What are your plans after Shillington?

Certainly I am more familiar with the types of jobs I am qualified for and have a better sense of how the industry is structured. The job hunt is humbling, and fortunately I have various freelance jobs to keep busy. For example I am currently freelancing at St. Luke’s creative agency in London to explore my options and understand this type of work better.

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

Love it and own it (insert punch emoji here). Even though we’re sort of wannabe designers, I don’t think that makes us any less qualified.

We bring a variety of experiences to the table and I think that’s particularly important in this field. The skills will fall into place.

Go to design conferences, cut your hair off, read blogs and books and follow everyone on Instagram. Then we can start speaking this nerdy designer language too 🙂

No doubt Meaghan is a grad to keep an eye on! Check out her website and follow her on Instagram to see more stellar work. And better yet? Get some of her gorgeous work through Society6.

Interested in studying full-time or part-time at Shillington New York? Learn more –> www.shillingtonschool.com 

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