(In a series of education themed blogs,Macworld looks at the hopes and challenges facing new and not so new talent across the creative industries.)
Currently finishing the final year of his Graphic Arts Degree at Liverpool School of Art & Design, Phil Kiel has already attracted interest with an appealing Web site and some exceptional design work. By submitting his work to various blogs, creative resources and design communities, he has also helped to raise his profile at a time when thousands of young creatives seek work across the UK. With a degree show just days away, Macworld caught up with a busy Phil to discover his hopes and ambitions.
Q. "It's an exciting time for you with your degree coming up in a matter of days, how do you feel?"
"On Friday (22 May) our degree show exhibition will open which will be the culmination of four years work, deadlines and critique sessions,so to say that I feel slightly excited, nervous and relieved is an understatement. I don't think anyone on the course really knows what is going to happen in the next couple of weeks, not even on the opening night."
Q".What do you hope to achieve from the show?"
"I hope the show will be a great,successful event. Just like most creatives the biggest thing I can hope for is compliments and recognition of my work. Even if most designers don't admit that they need it, a compliment is always an achievement.
I look at the show in two different ways; It signals the start of my professional career and the end of my time as a full time student. Because of this,I hope that I can achieve two different things from the show; contacts and connections to help me in the next few months and feedback, recognition and criticism about the past three years."
Phil Kiel developed a series of posters to accompany the 'Did You See That Thing?' lecture series.
Q."Previous Liverpool design shows have been held in London, do you think regional colleges miss out by staying local?"
"Yes , I agree to a certain extent but because of the Internet, all of the work is viewable anywhere in the world. However, the atmosphere and experience of the private view will be lost by viewing the Internet page only.
I understand that a decade or more ago London was the centre of the creative industry in Britain, but I believe the industry is now spread more equally. Maybe soon we will see universities based in London touring their exhibitions in cities around Britain."
Q."How well has college prepared you for a career in design?"
"It has prepared me greatly. Last summer I completed three weeks work experience at Liverpool design studio Uniform which was partly set up by the tutors. I have attended many lectures and presentations from previous students who either work in a studio, freelance or work in their own studio, which has helped and encouraged me a lot.
These lectures proved to us that students do graduate and go straight into work, even though we hear a lot about graduates doing jobs unrelated to their degree.
Throughout the three years our tutors have created a series of briefs and we have dedicated semesters to the "professional" world. These have included briefs set by real world clients, such as MTV and independent record labels.
I don't think that we can be completely prepared for our prospective careers, especially when creatives are constantly learning and developing. Each student needs to learn about the real world in an individual and unique way,either by researching through books, Web sites and blogs ,or leaving it until their first day of work and jumping straight in at the deep end."
Phil Kiel decided to open the newly created Typeface Hall of Fame blog at typefacehalloffame.wordpress.com to highlight his love of typography.
Q."You have been proactive in setting up your own Web site while at college and where possible,promoting your work, why?"
"I believe that it is important to get a head start because every career is so competitive. I believe having your work in the degree show and not having an online portfolio can only be negative, especially as online portfolios can be set up very quickly with little web knowledge i.e Indexhibit, Cargo Collective, Krop, Behance. Where else do people go if they want to see more of you work post degree show?"
"I have submitted my work to a number of Web sites for critique and promotion including Dirty Mouse and QBN. These have really helped because I have found it hard getting feedback from my class mates about Web sites and portfolios. These sites provide feedback from designers in different areas and countries.They have a wide range of staff of all ages and varied experience."
Q."Do you think a Web site has replaced a traditional portfolio or are the two both essential?"
"I think that both are essential. I don't believe any employer or client would give you a job or commission just from looking on a Web site. A portfolio is more than just a way of showing work; it requires you to speak and represent yourself, which is what I believe an employer/ client is interested in. They are more interested in you and not your previous work.
A Web site increases how many people see your work and can be seen by anybody in the world ,who has the Internet. However, a portfolio may only be seen by a handful of friends, colleagues, employers and clients. My Web site www.philkiel.com has already had around 1000 views.
Q."Do you think producing self-initiated work is something that produces positive results?"
"I believe that it is important to keep on a roll after the big deadline of the degree. I have struggled in the past when I have stopped being creative over the summer break.This was OK because tutors were forgiving when we got back up to speed in September. However, I don't think employers or clients would be so supportive.
A striking Phil Kiel poster series to accompany the 'Did You See That Thing?' lecture series.
Q."You are looking for work placements and job opportunities in the Liverpool and Manchester areas, but do you have an urge to move to London to find work?"
"I would prefer to stay in the North West, especially at this current time with the financial climate being so bleak. I think it is a great time to be working and living in and around Liverpool. There are creative studios popping up quite often. Hopefully Liverpool will soon be able to challenge Manchester as the design city of the North West.
Q." Is there a North/South divide in design?"
"I don't think so,the world is so much smaller because of the Internet. I believe and hope that British designers tend to stick together.
Q."Has the current economic downturn had a negative effect on you and
your fellow students' job prospects?"
"I believe that there isn't an option for me to give up on the career I have a passion and a talent for, especially during,or just after, my degree. It isn't just the creative industry that is struggling, every economic area is being affected.
I recently heard form a designer colleague that the North isn't struggling as much as the South and London. I don't think you can just go on what you read or hear from the media.
Q."What advice would you give to anyone about to start a creative course?"
"I don't want to sound like I am preaching, but I think graduates can teach new students many important lessons. Don't think you know everything, accept constructive criticism, learn from it and give feedback to other people's work.
I believe they will learn this themselves by the end of a degree but they would be more successful and have a head start following these guidelines from day one.
Q. "Finally,where do hope to be this time next year?"
"I hope to either be working in a studio in Liverpool, or be successfully working freelance. I understand this isn't the best time to be looking for work but I believe in my potential and am open to constructive criticism, which I believe are the most important factors when looking for work.
(The 2009 Graphic Arts Degree Show, Art and Design Academy, 2 Duckinfield Street, Liverpool, L3 5RD runs between 22 May - 5 June - More details can be found at www.adacrowd.com)