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After studying at uni for 3.5 years, I knew that I didn’t want to study for another chunk of time, but I also knew that I needed to get more technical skills/industry knowledge to keep moving forward and feel legit enough to send through an invoice.

Design Manager, Princess Polly

Lola Irwanto

What were you up to before Shillington?

Before Shillington, I was working two jobs in fashion, six days a week. I had already completed a uni degree in 2017 and landed one of my jobs through an internship I did while studying. But, I felt like I couldn’t progress professionally and just knew I didn’t want to be stuck in what I was doing for much longer. Graphic Design was something that I thought was fun but never took seriously. I’d whip up some art with an app on my iPhone and used Instagram as my outlet for it, but never thought it would be something I’d genuinely consider jumping into until around April last year!

Why did you decide to study design? 

While I was still playing around on my iPhone/iPad apps for fun, I put together a little zine using a free Adobe app on my iPad and a 30-day free trial of Indesign which I pretty much guessed my way through. It was a race against time and a test of innovation/faking it til I made it. I felt like the biggest design-kook but it was so fun to make. After putting out that zine, I started to get enquiries for freelance jobs/design pieces by musicians and artists who needed visual assets for their music. It was around then that I realised I could actually take this graphic design stuff seriously.

After studying at uni for 3.5 years, I knew that I didn’t want to study for another chunk of time but I also knew that I needed to get more technical skills/industry knowledge to keep moving forward and feel legit enough to send through an invoice. Shillington was a no-brainer for me as I have friends who studied at the Brisbane campus before I did and I’d heard nothing but great things about it. They also all went on to land great jobs and do proper freelance design so I knew that I wanted in on that. I knew it would be full-throttle study for 3 months straight but I knew I just had to do it.

What were your teachers like?

I had Ben, Nick and Adam at the Brisbane campus and they were the best! I’d say they’re all veteran designers and definitely had a diverse combination of experience which was really assuring. The one thing I was a bit sceptical on about studying at Shillington was that my style would be too left-field for what was considered as ‘graphic design’ but if anything, they pushed me more towards embracing my natural style and championed what they could see in my work that made it different to anyone else’s. I’ll always be grateful for that.

What would you say to someone who is sceptical about a 3 month graphic design course?

I’d say that the most valuable asset any aspiring designer can have is their portfolio and if you can learn to put one together sooner/a matter of months, you’ll have more time to look for opportunities in the industry than doing three years of uni. Plus, You’ll get to hang out with other like-minded creatives everyday who will inspire you also.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Each to their own, but what worked for me during the course was having my own style going on prior to learning all the designy things. Even though I was scared of the Adobe creative cloud to begin with and lacked technical skills, I had an idea of what i’d want things to look like and that helped heaps. Also, I ate a lot of peanut butter during the duration of the course. Like, at least 7 jars.

Visit Lola’s website and follow her on Instagram.

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