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Shillington gave me the perfect technical foundation to get started and the structure itself felt very connected to the industry.

Design Lead, Porto Rocha

Joseph Lebus

Thinking back to 2018, why did you choose to study at Shillington? What made the course stand out?

I had just spent 4 years studying at university, and I wanted to find a course where I could quickly skill up and get an initial understanding of design and branding.

Shillington gave me the perfect technical foundation to get started and the structure itself felt very connected to the industry.

We had guest speakers coming in to share their knowledge and advice for working in the design world. Looking back, it was the perfect way to jump start my career in design.

You had originally studied Modern Languages at university, what made you want to make the change to design? Did you have any previous design experience?

I didn’t have any previous design experience, but I had always been interested in design and visual thinking. My mum was a photographer, and as a kid I would borrow her old film cameras and take them with me wherever I went. I also ran nights at university, and would design the posters and flyers for the events that we ran.

An interest in the visual world was always there, but it was only after graduating that this took shape properly. My brother hired the services of a design studio to work on the branding for his company and I loved seeing this take shape. Moving from just an idea to a fully formed visual system, design was able to help articulate the ideas behind his company and I found this very powerful.

How was the course? Tell us about your experiences.

The course was great in that it gave me the technical footing to learn and progress in the industry. This was really important for the initial jobs I was in, where I had a strong enough grasp of the right tools and resources to learn and develop at a good pace.

I also loved the energy and passion that the teachers had on the course. They really try to install a confidence and belief in you, and I left the course with a palpable energy and desire to keep learning and developing my knowledge and skills.

Finally, the other students were all so great. Everyone supported each other and pushed each other’s work in a positive way, and this also had a tangible effect on giving me a confidence and belief in my own work.

In the last five years, you’ve gone from strength to strength in the industry—could you talk us through your journey from graduation to today?

Graduating felt like the first step in a long journey to get to where I wanted to be. I had a good technical base, but I enrolled in a couple of short courses at Central Saint Martins to further expand my skillset. After this, I began working at a handful of London-based agencies, including OtherwayAccept & ProceedBond and Socio. These were all amazing places to work—the people were brilliant and the different styles of work allowed me to think more deeply about the type of design I wanted to do.

I then spent a couple of years working at Made Thought, where I met some amazing people and had the chance to work on some brilliant projects. It was after Made Thought that I joined the team at Porto Rocha. At the time it was a smaller studio of 5 people including the founders, Leo and Felipe. Fast forward two years, we are now 20 strong and growing! It’s been an amazing couple of years and I feel very grateful to be learning under such talented founders and alongside an incredible group of designers, project managers and strategists.

What would be your number one piece of advice for someone who has just graduated from Shillington?

It would be the same advice that I was given by the creative director at the first studio I worked for after graduating—don’t rest on your laurels. If there is somewhere you want to be, keep working and applying yourself until you are there.

Design is a work in progress, so you can always be thinking about how you can learn and improve.

Check out Joseph’s website and read his full interview on the blog.


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