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I think one of the most useful and transferable skills I picked up at Shillington was how to portray and present my ideas and thought process. Since a lot of my work is in creative fields, this has been super helpful.

Freelance Creative

Peter Howell

Thinking back to 2018, why did you choose Shillington? What made our course stand out from the rest?

I did a lot of research into my options and decided that I needed to learn a lot of news skills in a very short space of time. I couldn’t face the time (or cost) of going back to university, and the variety of other courses I found seemed to be lacking an overall cohesive structure. So, when I found out about Shillington, it felt like it was the perfect choice—especially how structured the days sounded.

I had a visit to the London campus which was very helpful, and the journey was really straightforward—which made the prospect of the early morning commute much more bearable.

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

After graduating, I was super lucky to get a place on The Kennedys—a creative incubator scheme at Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam. It was a complete eye-opener in so many ways and I’m still very thankful to the good eggs I met during that period. Plus, for my first post-Shillington job, it still blows my mind that my team was responsible for a national rebranding project. The King of the Netherlands attended the main event and stood next to the logo I designed.

That job involved doing so many different roles which made me realise that maybe being just a graphic designer wasn’t for me—I wanted to do everything! So when I moved back to the UK, I set myself up as a freelance creative, using a lot of the skills I picked up at Shillington. Alongside working in TV development, I’ve been working as a brand designer, an illustrator, a creative facilitator and pretty much anything else that sounds interesting and fun.

I feel a lot more confident about tackling different jobs in different fields now that I have more skills, tools and experience under my belt. The only downside is that my portfolio can be a little confusing to explain to people now—it’s got brand designs next to reality TV shows formats that have been commissioned.

Do you use the skills you learnt at Shillington in your non-design work? And, if so, how?

I think one of the most useful and transferable skills I picked up at Shillington was how to portray and present my ideas and thought process. Since a lot of my work is in creative fields, this has been super helpful—whether it’s talking about an idea for a new reality show, or pitching a series of illustrations for an exhibition.

But also, just having the knowledge of Illustrator, InDesign and PhotoShop is incredibly useful for all sorts of things. Making invoice templates might not sound creative or glamorous but it’s incredibly useful if you want to get paid.

Back to the course, did you have a favourite brief from your portfolio? Can you tell us about it?

I think the packaging brief was my favourite because it was the first time it felt like you could see your work come to life in the real world. I ended up making a series of yoyo boxes for my portfolio which I still think do a great job of fulfilling the brief. I think that was our first taste of mockups too—which also felt like a big deal at the time. I also have very fond memories of the layout brief, as it showed me how much more efficient it is to lay something out in InDesign.

Before that brief, I’d been compiling all my comic print files together in a super clunky way in PhotoShop. After that brief, I was putting together my comic print files in half the time and they’re much easier to update and export.

Did you make any meaningful connections on the course? Have you worked with any fellow Shillumni since you’ve graduated?

I still speak to a few of my classmates and some of my teachers. In fact, I was lucky enough to work with one of my former teachers and some other Shillington graduates on a really great mural in London. It’s the biggest project I’ve ever worked on when it comes to scale, and it’s pretty mind-blowing to see something you’ve made take up an entire alleyway.

Finally, what would you say to someone who is sceptical about the Shillington course?

I think the course is a great starting point to a variety of new ways of thinking, along with a lot of new software. It’s a lot of work so don’t be expecting to be spoonfed or babied—but on the other hand, you really get out what you put in. So, turn up ready to give it as much of your time and energy as possible.

Also, shout out to Ali, Amy, Andy, Clay, Fiona, George and Hilary who were the staff overseeing the course when I was there. It’s been four years (?!) since I was at Shillington and I’m still grateful to them for helping me start a new creative journey.

Peter Howell
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