I started my journey in graphics through my previous employer, a national wholesaler and distributor of food and catering products to professional kitchens. I initially worked hard in the warehouse after leaving school, showing a good work ethic and drive to do the best job possible, which was noticed by management. After seven months of hard work, I decided to gain experience living and working abroad. I lived in Australia for a year, gaining further work experience in a variety of different roles such as street charity fundraising, and working as a waiter in beautiful restaurants in Brisbane. Experiencing different cultures, living and travelling alone drove me to consider what it was I wanted from life and how I could make a difference. I returned to the UK in 2015, and within a week, my manager from the food wholesaler had been in touch to get me working for the company again.
I quickly became bored of the warehouse job, and asked management if there was anything more creative and challenging. The company came back with an offer to join the graphic design department, and soon after I enrolled on the University of Kent HND Graphic Design course at West Kent College, sponsored by my employer. Although I had never considered myself to be naturally creative, photography had always been a passion and a hobby at that time, which encouraged me to pursue a career in design.
There are many things I like about the course. The tutors are incredibly friendly and work hard to ensure everyone can achieve what they’re capable of. Since joining the course, they’ve always been approachable and sympathetic when a problem arises. I appreciate it’s a difficult job, but they both deserve medals for their commitment to the college and design itself. I also like how we’ve had the opportunity to work on live briefs with real life clients. In my first year on the HND Graphic Design course, I was one of the winners of the Design Factory competition, a competition run by the Design Museum London. In year two, I also won the opportunity to work with a big fruit preparation and distributer to large supermarkets, which came from a brief set by the company at college. Again, in year two, my work was also recognised by an agency who set a brief to design a website for an online war game. This led to work experience in the summer of 2017, where I impressed with my ambition to learn and work hard. Initially, it was only a week’s work experience, however they allowed me to extend it to two weeks. By November 2017, the agency offered me a part-time job on the days, that I wouldn’t be attending college. Without design professionals being invited to come into college by my tutors and setting briefs, the experiences I have had wouldn’t be possible, and I wouldn’t be anywhere near where I am today.
The BA course has been hectic this year. Writing isn’t my forte, hence why I’m on a graphics course, so this was certainly one of my concerns. I couldn’t understand how writing a dissertation would help my design skills. However, after researching my topic of advertising in greater detail, I found my abilities to analyse and dissect designs had strengthened, which has since proven to help my own design work. I’m currently half way through my final major piece, which I’m really motivated to complete and have a nice piece to add to my portfolio.
At this stage, I’m keen to learn and develop as a designer as much as possible from my peers at college, but particularly work. I’m currently working with some incredibly talented designers in a very friendly, sociable environment. Although the job is challenging, I feel like I learn so much day by day, and I have never been happier in my adult work and social life.
Ed's tips for future students
- I think it’s particularly important to manage your time efficiently whilst on the course. I’ve found it difficult at times to juggle work commitments, college work, and trying to have a social life, but having a balance is vital to getting the most out of the course.
- I’d also say communication is really important. There’s a lot of group and class interaction, and in order to progress, I think it’s important to be receptive to feedback, and ask how your work can be improved. Criticisms shouldn’t be taken personally either, it should be thought as a cheat sheet from your target audience to find out what it is they want to get from a design. This will help distill an idea and often results in a better final outcome.