(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.)
Emma du Pille graduated from Norwich School of Art & Design in 2008 and has since been working in London, undertaking various design placements at some of the capital's top studios. Her work has already attracted rave reviews on various design forums and blogs. Macworld caught up with Emma to discover her hopes and ambitions as she continues a career in design.
Q. How has the first year in “the real world” been?
Whilst in my final few weeks at NSAD I had lined up some promising placements and I had a positive response from exhibiting at D&AD. As the recession started to kick in finding a junior designer role has become more and more difficult but there are certainly many good placements available, and I believe interns have much to offer an agency for what they gain back in experience.
I’ve learnt a great deal about interaction and the personal relationship a designer can build with their client. Also, my knowledge of the print industry has grown hugely over the past 12 months. I have experienced specialist printing techniques as well as witnessing high quantity runs. My desire to produce good work and succeed in the graphic design business has continued to grow and I’ve met some great people who have strengthened my ambitions.
Q. What is the biggest difference between the two - college and a job?
There was always the freedom to select your own brief at college and I enjoyed adapting a brief to suit my own interests and strengths. I have a strong love of typography and relish the challenge of solving a brief typographically. I feel a combination of letters and words can have a powerful and exciting impact when arranged and treated in a creative way.
The tutors at NSAD would always guide me and give helpful feedback, but part of the learning process was to make your own decisions in realising what would be a successful solution or not.
I’ve always received encouragement on the various placements I’ve done, but it is evident how much quicker the design industry moves in comparison to a university environment. Deadlines are tight and crits can be held far more often. This interaction helps refine the design process and ensures the best ideas are put forward to the client.
The diversity of briefs I have experienced in the industry has helped me understand just how vast and influential design can be and I enjoy working on both the smaller, individual projects just as much as the larger more corporate briefs.
Q. Are you very much hands on as part of a team?
I feel I’ve been fortunate with the studios I’ve worked in as I have always been made to feel like a part of the team. The diversity of briefs I have undertaken in the past year have really helped me develop my skills as a designer and the people I’ve spent time with have always allowed me to get stuck in.
Of course there are the easy tasks that all designers have to do, such as photo editing, going to the post office and making tea, but in small studios everyone chips in and does their part. I am happy to take on any task I’m given, as I see each piece of work as an opportunity to demonstrate my ability.
Q. Have you continued to do your own work while working at a studio and how have you managed to find time?
It’s important to build a portfolio of more personal work, giving myself the opportunity to try new things whilst not being confined to the guidelines of client specifications.
I enjoy manipulating fonts and creating new typefaces that give an abstract feel whilst maintaining legibility, then applying the designs to posters, introducing colour and scale. I sometimes feel I spend too much time in front of a screen, so it’s always nice to get out with my camera or look at a few books.
I am passionate about what I do and most importantly I enjoy it so there’s always time to scribble a few things down in my sketchbook.
Q. You promote your work online by submitting it to various design blogs and websites. Why do you think this is important?
Design blogs are such a great source of inspiration. I regularly check my favourite blogs and as they are updated so often there is always something new to see. These types of sites act as an online archive, not only displaying work from well-known design agencies but also showcasing work from individuals and they are a great way for graduates to get their work seen.
The popularity of my website came as a surprise to me and I do think it’s been generated by the links given on design blogs. The Internet is such a powerful tool, allowing work to be viewed globally by anyone at any time and I think it is important to make good use of this. However, I also take a more personal approach when promoting my work.
Arranging meetings with designers even when there isn’t a job or placement going is still a great way of building contacts and hearing valuable feedback. Showing enthusiasm and dedication is just as important as the work you’re presenting.
Q. A year on, what advise would you give to others leaving college and looking for a job as a designer?
It’s a tricky time to be graduating but it’s important to be persistent and remain motivated. Sending emails, making phone calls and submitting work to blogs and competitions are all ways for getting your name out there. It is not in my nature to give up on a career I have such a desire to pursue so by maintaining a positive mentality and continuing to work hard I hope to build on what I’ve already achieved.
Q. Finally, where would you like to be in a year or two?
At the moment my future is still pretty uncertain, which is both exciting and daunting. I am enjoying spending time at different studios and have often been asked back during busy times. My main ambition is to find a permanent job in one of the UK’s big cities, however I have also been looking into jobs abroad and have applied for several. It would be great to travel whilst still doing what I enjoy most.
(See more of Emma's work at emmadupille.co.uk)