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Shillington was a great way to continue our adventure. Now that I have the design skills, I feel like I could become a digital nomad and work anywhere!

Digital Designer, Mapway

Veronica Humphris

What were you up to before Shillington and why did you decide to study design?

My previous career was as a theatre producer in London. I loved managing a theatre building, putting together theatre, art and dance productions, but I wanted a change. It was important to me to explore my creativity, and take a break from the pace of London. In 2017, my partner and I got married, and decided to take a career gap year to travel round the world. We travelled through India, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the West Coast of America. We also lived for 2 months on Crete, which was a dream we’d had for the last ten years.

When we came back to the UK last year, Manchester seemed like a great place to study. I’d been to a Shillington Info Session before, and we felt it was a great way to continue our adventure. Now that I have the design skills, I feel like I could become a digital nomad and work anywhere!

What have you been up to since graduating?

After graduating, I started working freelance, mainly on branding projects for theatre and film companies whose contacts I’d made when I was in London. I love working with other creative people on their brand identity, and especially when you can get them really excited about the possibilities of their business through mood boards, colour palettes and tone of voice.

I was offered three weeks work experience with award-winning design agency Vivid, where I learnt a huge amount and was lucky enough to attend a design team training course for AfterEffects and Premiere.

In March, I was accepted on a programme called Creative Comeback, that was a crash course for women returning to the creative industries after a career gap. The highlight for me was pitching our group’s creative concept for Guinness to Diageo and the top 4 agencies in Manchester: TWBA, Momentum, McCann and BBC Creative.

I’ve also been overwhelmed by the variety of brilliant creative events that are happening all over Manchester:  Ladies Wine & Design Manchester, Breakfast Club Manchester, Craft, Motion North, and of course, PechaKucha. I’m looking forward to going to my first “Ladies that UX” breakfast next week.

You now work for Mapway—who develop travel apps for cities all over the world. What do you do there? 

I’m part of the in-house design team, and we do a lot of varied work around all aspects of UX and UI design. We use Sketch for a lot of projects, so that was great to have in my toolkit from Shillington, and helps when I have to tackle tasks using similar software like Framer X for animating transitions, which I’m learning to do at the moment.

The most specialist part of my job is learning the skills of digital cartography: making interactive schematic maps of transport networks. It’s very precise work, and has really sharpened my Illustrator skills: it’s very important that the designs I export are pixel perfect, and strike the right balance between aesthetics and function. I’m currently working on an interactive map of Toronto which will be released in the next few months. I’ll also make all the screenshots and app icon assets for the App Store and Play Store, which I really enjoy. I’m looking forward to a future project we’ve got coming up where I’ll be creating an icon set to be used throughout all of the new apps.

We work collaboratively with the app developers using a ‘Scrum’ framework, which is an agile way of managing software development projects. We do design ‘sprints’ which break our work up into two week chunks of time, and keeps us motivated. It’s fascinating being part of an integrated designer-developer team, working collaboratively to develop useful, beautiful products. I feel my creative decisions are valued, supported and encouraged by the whole team, and I get to use my travel experience too – I really look forward to going to work every day!

Can you give any tips or advice to our fresh graduates? 

Yes—I’ve got three top tips:

Be as open to all opportunities as you dare. I was worried when I graduated that I didn’t have a niche, but actually if I’d specialised too early it might have held me back. I thought I’d only be happy working in an agency, but I’m so glad that I was open to working for a company in-house, because it means that I’m continuing to hone my design skills in a new way. It’s a direction I couldn’t have foreseen, but I’m so grateful that I stayed open to the possibilities.

Network your socks off. My current job came about because I met a designer who worked at Mapway at a design event, and he told me about a vacancy they were looking to fill. It can be both scary and tiring to attend a lot of events but it really helps to find others who you can share with. Luckily, I’ve found the Manchester creative scene is very friendly, supportive and eager to be collaborative.

Relax. (this is the one I’m am currently trying to implement more!) I found that in the first few weeks after graduating from Shillington I found it really difficult to be suddenly out of the strict daily routine. I got stressed looking for opportunities and I was worried that I would never get a design job! Make sure you give yourself time to relax and consolidate your skills. Allow time to be inspired by art, seeing friends, gardening or whatever gets your creativity flowing!

Check out Veronica’s website and follow her on Instagram.

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