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The teachers were fantastic, supportive and encouraging that when we were struggling with the pressure of it all they helped us get back into the swing of it.

Graphic Designer & Illustator, Belazu

Jess Goodall

You were an artist before studying at Shillington, why did you decide to make the jump and study graphic design?

While I was happy following my passion of being an artist and working in film as a costume illustrator, it was not an easy career to maintain and there were many highs and lows. I had set up my own commission-based business for paintings and bespoke pet portraits but I found the freelance life an artist quite unpredictable. So, after four years of this lifestyle where I couldn’t book holidays without running the risk of missing a film job, I was looking for something much more stable and permanent with actual structure to it. I liked the idea of being able to carry on using my creativity and building on existing skills I had in the Adobe suite. I also love learning and wanted the challenge to learn a whole new craft.

Why did you choose Shillington?

I had heard about Shillington through a graduate who had complete the course out in Australia and was interested in it as she has such a successful career as a graphic designer. I also liked the fact that it was a short course and I could change careers in such a short space of time. It was a big investment price-wise but the thought of being able to have a full time career with real earning potential as a designer far outweighed this—as it was investing in my future.

What have you been up to since graduation? How has your life changed after Shillington?

Post-graduation I slept for about two weeks! It was such an intense course that was both mentally and physically draining (with an horrible commute & early starts), I was really shattered by the end of portfolio week! After doing nothing design related, and enjoying a break from being at my iMac morning, noon and night, I went on holiday then applied for jobs. I think it was important to have a break and reset so I was then in the right mindset to start something new, it really does have a big effect on you with the change from working at 100mph during term time to then being free. I quickly had success applying for jobs and took the second offer I received at a digital design branding agency called Pistachio. I had confidence in my portfolio, along with my previous experience, so I was applying for full-time positions only. I also didn’t want to go down the internship route or working on projects for free! I knew I was ready for a junior role and luckily all that hard work at Shillington paid off & I am loving my job with Pistachio. My colleagues are lovely, have been welcoming & given me lots of cool projects to work on. They have also been really keen to use my fresh perspective on design and the design process I was taught at Shillington so that is cool.

Did you have any previous design experience? How did the course build your skill set?

Yes and no. I feel I had more than the majority of my classmates as I had lots of experience working on briefs from clients as an illustrator. I also worked in an Art Department for films where I was involved with lots of large scale printing, was familiar with a few of the Adobe programmes and working to tight deadlines. There was still so much to learn though and now I love InDesign and all the cool things you can do in Illustrator. The course was great at teaching you the theory behind everything that you were learning to give it context.

Did you face any challenges during the course?

Oh boy yes!  It was honestly so much harder than my degree and any other form of self study. It wasn’t the actual content that I found difficult to get my head around as such, however it was the pace at which you are learning, putting into practice and juggling all the new information that you have taken in. It was quite relentless but also amazing just how much we learnt in just a few months! Well worth the hard work and it has been great to know you can learn so much.

Did you become close with your course mates? Are you still in touch with any of them?

Yes! They were so lovely, fun and the course was a real bonding experience as we were all in it together. It was good that we swapped seats every week as we got to talk to everyone. It was so nice to meet other creative like minded people and our Friday night pub sessions were always something to look forward to. I have seen a few of them and we’re all still in touch on a big group chat—which is nice. We still ask each other for help now and again and give suggestions for design ideas.

What would you say to someone who has doubts about the Shillington course?

I would say it is so important to make sure that you can fully commit to the course before you go on it. If you go in with that mindset, which I did, then you will be fine and get lots out of it. Invest in yourself and get the most out of it. The teachers were fantastic, supportive and encouraging that when we were struggling with the pressure of it all they helped us get back into the swing of it. It really has changed my life and whole career and I feel very proud of what we all achieved so I would definitely recommend it—just know how tough it will be for those few months & don’t be work-shy!

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