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I really enjoyed the studio environment that the course emulated and I realize now that it prepared me for the real world of collaborating with my colleagues and being able to take design critiques professionally.

Freelance Multidisciplinary Designer

Shireen Roy

Why did you choose to study at Shillington? Did you have any previous design experience?

I spent many many hours looking up different intensive design courses since I already had a degree and didn’t want to spend any more time than I needed in school. Shillington kept popping up for me and it checked off everything that I was looking for in a course—short, intensive, in-person classes, great portfolios from grads, amazing reviews and the added bonus of learning design in a city with as much creative history as New York!

For a couple of years, before I bit the bullet and enrolled for the course at Shillington, I found myself gravitating towards whatever design work was available for me to do at my previous jobs. It started with things like volunteering to design the menus at a cafe I worked at, teaching myself Figma and asking to take on a UX/UI project for a small tech startup where I was initially hired to do admin work. Towards the end of that project, it became obvious to me that my heart was in design and knew it was time for me to do some sort of a design course where I could have some more guidance and learn the tricks of the trade.

What have you been up to since graduation? 

Working at Blume, which was a great experience! Since it’s a start up with a small team, I got to take on many projects that I likely wouldn’t have been able to at a large design studio and I got hands-on experience doing a lot of different things. There was no such thing as a typical day really because I was the only designer on the team so I was working on different projects all the time, but I enjoyed the newness of every day and working closely with all the other departments.

I joined during an exciting time when they had just gotten the guidelines for a rebrand from a big NYC design firm and I got to implement that into every aspect of their brand from designing all the components for their full line of products—creating merch, landing pages, social assets and everything in between. I also spearheaded the creative for all of their campaigns and launches since I joined, and I even got to fully own and do the creative direction, styling and casting for a lifestyle photoshoot! I was given a lot of autonomy in my position which allowed me to experiment creatively and become more confident in myself as a professional designer. They are still one of my clients now as a freelancer!

You pivoted towards freelance, how have you navigated the field? 

I’m quite new to freelancing so I’m still figuring things out but it’s been really great so far! I was lucky to have booked a retainer client from the start, so I had a steady source of income right away which made the switch a bit less daunting. I used to have a perception that to “make it” as a freelancer, I would need to have tons of clients and always be looking for new ones, but I haven’t found that to be the case. Working repeatedly with a handful of aligned clients has worked out great for me so far and I like that this allows me to spend more time designing, less time managing clients doing admin work. In my work, I’m inspired by unique type, playful graphic elements and color!  Some fun projects that I have gotten to do as a freelancer include conceptualizing and designing the creative for a new product launch for Blume and creating my first social post using motion design for Later.

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

Give yourself the 3 months to fully immerse yourself in design and the design community. Find studios that you like, follow designers on Instagram, find classmates or friends that you can talk about design with, go to talks and workshops by industry leaders if you can. Getting excited about being in the field is a great motivator for putting in the work that you will have to do during portfolio week. Doing all this research also helps you start to figure out what area of design interests you the most and you may even slowly start to figure out your personal design style!

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

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