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I couldn’t have dreamt of a better environment, especially at such a vulnerable time of my life where doubts and uncertainty were daily companions.

Freelance Illustrator and Designer

Araki Koman

What were you up to before Shillington?

I was working as a Search Engine Marketing Analyst for Microsoft France. It was my second job after graduating from my Master’s degree in Marketing. Within a year I switched between a multitasking role in a startup to a more specific role in a bigger company, thinking it would bring me the inner satisfaction I was looking for. Although the working conditions were great, I knew I definitely wasn’t following the right path.

Why did you decide to study design? Why Shillington?

I was a creative child, constantly drawing and imagining myself as a graphic designer, illustrator, architect or fashion designer. However, when I reached my teenage years with all the insecurities and self-doubt that comes with it, I lost touch with my creative side and stopped drawing altogether for 10 years. Growing up, no one around me was working in the creative industry.

I come from a working class and second generation immigrant background. At the time, doing a creative job felt like a fantasy, far away from the reality I was surrounded with. Investing money to enroll into a business school felt like a smarter and safer choice at the time. Luckily, during my studies, I got to travel a lot for internships and exchange programs and expanded my perspective. I met friends living from their creative work and went to countries where art was more inclusive than in my native Paris. After quitting my second marketing job, I went to New York to visit a Graphic Designer friend. At the time I was already considering studying design, but the good Paris design schools I was interested in had an age limit. At 24, I was considered too old to enroll. When I bumped into a Shillington ad in an independent magazine in Williamsburg, I instantly knew it’s where I needed to study.

From the teaching quality following design principles and industry standards, the flexibility (9 months part-time/ 3 months full time), to learning how to master the main design softwares while building a professional portfolio… I couldn’t have dreamt of a better environment, especially at such a vulnerable time of my life where doubts and uncertainty were daily companions.

What have you been up to since graduating?

Right after graduating, I found a freelance graphic design job in a creative London studio. I initially started as a paid intern for one month and ended up being hired. I then felt the need to explore my creativity more and moved to Iceland for a textile design internship, then enrolled into a fashion design course in Denmark to finally realise my drawing potential during a fashion illustration course. It took few more years working as a creative consultant and graphic designer before embracing a full time freelance illustrator career 2 years ago.

Any tips for someone thinking of changing careers? (1) Embracing my creativity have been an amazing self-discovery journey! (2) Follow your curiosity, it will expand your life’s perspective and your potential in tremendous ways. (3) Each new skills and experiences you’ll learn will add up to each other and will help you design a life and career tailored for you. A great asset in the era we currently live in.

Visit Araki’s website.

Photo by Fran Hales.

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