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Hear straight from our graduates.

I was a mature student at Shillington—very mature. It took every ounce of courage to walk through the door into what I assumed would be a group of individuals far younger than me, all of which I assume would be techno savvy creative geniuses.

Founder, A Making Life

Dawn Moloney

What were you up to before Shillington?

I studied at Shillington Sydney as a part time student commencing in Feb 2014. I didn’t realise at the time what a profound impact this would have on me and my life. I had expected to learn some great new skills in a fabulous environment but I had not expected it to fundamentally change the perceptions I had of myself.

I was a mature student at Shillington—very mature. I was a moderately successfully business woman and had worked mainly in the pharmaceutical industry almost all my working life. So, why would I change and become a graphic designer? Many have asked me this question and to explain I must briefly return to my upbringing and early career. Born in the East of London in the 60s into a working-class family—life in the arts was never going to be deemed a suitable career, so I became a pharmacist the perennial “square peg in a round hole”. I painted at lunchtime, sewed at the weekend and worked all the rest of the time. Don’t get me wrong I had/have a great career, I have had some magnificent experiences which always made it harder to give it up and follow my dreams of being a fully-fledged “creative person”.

In 2002, at the age of 40, we sold all our possessions, uprooted ourselves and our 2 young kids and moved half way around the world and started again. We have never regretted that decision but once again it meant my creative dreams were put on hold. Whilst I always knew I wanted to design my own fabric and make my own patterns it wasn’t until we had established ourselves that I could focus on gathering the skills I needed to fulfil my dreams. That’s where Shillington came in, and I finally enrolled.

How did you find the course?

I knew Shillington would be challenging, at the time I barely knew how to turn on a MAC!! But even I was surprised at the depth of my nerves that very first day. It took every ounce of courage to walk through the door into what I assumed would be a group of individuals far younger than me, all of which I assume would be techno savvy creative geniuses.

I haven’t ever admitted the fact that I threw up in the toilet 10 minutes before that very first class. Yes, a confident business woman in her 50s who had presented 1000s of times to 100s of people was a total nervous wreck on the first day of design college. Fortunately I used my experience to cover my nerves. Looking back, I think I was so nervous because I had waited so long for this and I had finally arrived and I wanted to be good.

The year at Shillington was fun but hard and very challenging, constantly changing and evolving briefs and all the new things to learn pushed me hard to keep up. I was surrounded by supportive students and fantastic teachers, which helped keep me going.

Tell us about A Making Life.

My creative business, A Making Life, focusses on teaching others the love of making things for themselves. In the short term, we will be teaching lampshade making, sewing, block printing, lettering, watercolours and floristry with many more in the pipeline. I want to provide a space for participants to enjoy the craft of hand making with other likeminded people and help them build lifelong skills. And yes, I have designed and have had my first fabric printed. I’m even training to teach InDesign. Anyone from my course reading this will probably choke with laughter at this point -yes me the person who took 6 weeks to toggle between stroke ad fill is planning to teach. Life is a constant surprise!

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