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I’ve always loved design, but left it late to actually pursue it. Whilst I’d blagged it as a self-taught designer in a previous role, I was aware of my limitations and struggled to advance without the direction and structure of a course.

Strategist, Re Agency

Gerald Torto

What were you up to before Shillington?

I was a Consultant at Customer Agency C Space and before that a self-taught in-house Designer at B2B publishing company, Centaur Media in London.

Why did you decide to study design?

I’ve always loved design, but left it late to actually pursue it. Whilst I’d blagged it as a self-taught designer in a previous role, I was aware of my limitations and struggled to advance without the direction and structure of a course. I then took a break from design to try my hand at something else, but the itch was still there. Circumstances granted me the opportunity to pause work and address the gaps in my skillset properly. I had 3 months available and had heard great things about Shillington from friends who had completed the course so I jumped right in.

How did you land your job at Re?

1) Homework 2) persistence and 3) cannolis. I’ll explain all three.

First, before moving from London to Sydney, I scanned agencies in the city. I knew who did what, who worked where and what my top 3 places to work (and 3 after that) were. I spoke to people over Skype, email and Instagram at weird times of the day (time difference is a killer) to make sure I had the lay of the land even before I stepped on a plane. Secondly, my first email got missed (to be expected, it was just before Christmas), but my second one got me in for a chat or two… which then leads to #3 – cannolis. Again. I did some homework, figured out that Pat (Re’s CEO) has a thing for cannolis and so got some for our 4pm interview. It picked up energy levels (no one wants a meeting at 4) and showed attention to detail—a good trait for working with big brands with complex business challenges. The rest, as they say, is history.

Why do you love being a creative expat in Sydney?

First things first, the British accent is a hit when presenting work lol. On a serious note, I think there is an energy, vibrancy and a determination to elevate and promote Australian design to the rest of the world. Being a part of that—even from a strategy perspective—is exciting. Also the food here is better, the weather is better and you guys have this great thing with real sand that’s called…I think a beach! 

What would you say to people who are sceptical about Shillington’s fast-paced design course?

One of the frustrating things about our industry is that you need experience to get an opportunity, but you need an opportunity to get experience. Shillington is both an opportunity and experience. An opportunity to learn things you’ll actually need in the studio and experience of listening to briefs, having a process, working with other designers, getting your work critiqued, pushing the work further, and working to real deadlines. A fast-paced studio can be an unforgiving place even for seasoned professionals, so where better to get up to speed in a safe(r) environment where the stakes won’t impact margins or a P and L!

Anything else you’d like to share?

If you love design, need help with your creative skillset and want to get pushed, listen to the words of Nike. #justdoit

Follow Gerald on Twitter and read his guest post about networking on the blog.

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