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Hear straight from our graduates.

You may not know it right away but once you graduate from Shillington you’re way more prepared for the design industry than you think.

Studio Manager, The Design Kids

Lauren Danger Koste

You have a background in brand strategy and marketing. Why did you decide to switch gears and study graphic design?

I was working as a brand strategist/copywriter for almost a decade for heaps of different businesses, from an ice skating rink in New Zealand to a PR agency in Washington, DC! While I loved the strategic aspect of my work, I noticed that I was always jealous of the graphic designer that got to communicate my strategy using design. I knew for years that I wanted to be a graphic designer but I thought I couldn’t be one because I wasn’t some super talented illustrator or artist (which I now understand was just silly!).

When I turned 30, I had an “Oh shit what do I really want to be when I grow up?” moment and spontaneously decided to sign up for the part-time Shillington course in Melbourne! Not to sound corny but it was seriously the best decision I ever made.

What was your favourite student brief? Tell us about your process and the final outcome.

Wow! Let me think. Okay, so probably the campaign brand I did for Baja Norte, which was a fictional event held in San Diego, aiming to increase tourism to Mexico’s Baja Peninsula (only a 20 minute drive away). Yeah, it was super niche. I’m weirdly obsessed with Mexico, specifically Northern Baja!

I absolutely loved this brief because I was able to get really hands on with the visuals. I played with coloured epoxy and a blowtorch to create this super cool resin artwork that looked like aerial views of the region. I love being hands on, so any excuse to break out the table saw, welder or blow torch count me in!

How did the design course build your skillset and give you the confidence to freelance after graduating?

You may not know it right away but once you graduate from Shillington you’re way more prepared for the design industry than you think.

We’re taught early on how to work to deadlines, quickly develop strategic ideas and the importance of having a plan and sticking to it. I think these are skills that a lot of other courses don’t focus on as much. So we already have an upper hand!

As a new graduate, of course I felt nervous and insecure about my design skills, but the more people I talked to in the industry the more I realised I actually knew my shit. I started going after clients with the whole ‘fake it ’til you make it’ attitude and I guess they bought it! I also networked my butt off, going to as many design events and meeting as many people as I could. Some of the best industry lessons are learnt over a pint of beer with an experienced designer or creative director that you admire.

Seriously—if there’s someone you admire, ask if you can take them out for a beer. They’ll most likely say yes!

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

Be patient with yourself and trust the process. Shillington goes about teaching design in such a unique way.

They really hone in on the importance of research, idea generation, and strategy. Really nailing these aspects of the design process is going to make it SO MUCH easier for you once you hit the computer and start designing. I’m so jealous you guys get to start this epic journey! Have heaps of fun with it.

Read Lauren’s full interview on the blog. You can also check out Lauren’s website and follow her on Instagram to stay up to date with her work. 

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