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I was looking for a holistic course that covered both the theoretical and practical elements of design whilst allowing me to continue to work—Shillington ticked those boxes.

Freelance Designer, Aah Yes Studio

Ayesha Mansour

You were working as Marketing Manager at Dishoom, a British national restaurant chain. Why did you decide to switch gears and study graphic design?

I’d worked in marketing for a long time (nearly 10 years!) and always got so excited about the design-based projects I worked on. I mainly worked with large creative agencies but, when I was at Dishoom, I worked alongside an in-house designer. It was the first time I got to see design happening first hand and it sparked something in me. I’d got to a level in my work where I was mainly focussed on strategy and I missed the creative side of things.

What made you choose Shillington? And what made you choose to the part-time course?

I was looking for a holistic course that covered both the theoretical and practical elements of design whilst allowing me to continue to work—Shillington ticked those boxes. Quite a few courses that I looked at didn’t teach the technical skills which I find odd. I already had some experience of the more conceptual side of things from working in brand and marketing but I didn’t know my way around the applications. Shillington’s location was also a huge bonus as I live and work in East London.

Was there any crossovers between working in marketing and being a graphic designer? Did your previous experience help you on the course at all?

Plenty! During my time in marketing I was lucky enough to work for really creative brands such as Dishoom and Ella’s Kitchen that have a really strong aesthetic and focus on design. Working in the brand teams for these places gave me a lot of exposure to creativity and design. I worked with all kinds of creatives from big advertising agencies to independent designers. As well as an understanding of processes (and the crazy amount of design lingo) I learnt a lot about managing and building relationships—something that is so important in what I do now. I also gained a lot of experience in the importance of presenting your work well, another really useful design tool.

Did you make any meaningful connections with teachers or fellow students during the course? Have you worked with any of them since?

Our class was actually really close as a whole group which was amazing. We have a big graduate WhatsApp group which is still active. I made lots of friends (students and teachers) who I’m still in regular contact with—I feel really lucky to have met so many talented creatives and have people around me I can pester when I need something looking over or have a question! I did some work recently with one of my buddies from the course—it was so much fun working together and I hope there are lots more opportunities like it to come.

What prompted your decision to go into freelancing as a fresh Shillington graduate?

Setting up my own business was one of my motivations for becoming a designer. As well as making the transition to a more creative role I wanted something that had the flexibility to work from anywhere and give lots of variety. Having already been in the working world for a while I felt it was time to take the leap.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone starting on the part-time course at Shillington, what would it be?

Throw yourself into it. Someone told me before I started that you get out what you put in and that is 100% true. And, also, take your break on time. It’s how you get to the good biscuits.

Visit Ayesha’s website and read her full interview on the blog

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