D&AD Education Day
In association with
Sheffield Hallam University
Steve Woodwat and Simon Morrow – guest speakers from Elmwood design agency
Transition from education to industry
5 things we’ve learned along the way
1) Be an expert for a day
You ordinarily gravitate towards briefs that interest you but in industry there is no choice on subject matter or brief. For example, Royal Mail briefed us with a project to celebrate the birthday of ‘wall boxes’ (not post boxes, but the one’s actually encased in brick) by incorporating them into stamps. For us it was a pretty dull brief to begin with, but once the research started to tend to immerse yourself in the subject matter and don’t realise you’re becoming a nerd on it. When you’re brand new to a subject you really need to spend some quality time on it because there will be actual nerds out there who know the subject matter inside out. Not only that, but get into the community and find out their responses, which are their favourite photographs of the boxes? Diving into subject areas where at first you may not be necessarily interested could produce outstanding results.
2) Take people with you
At university you do everything for yourself but taking clients with you on your creative journey and getting them to place their trust in you I very important. Bauer media wanted at rebrand, owned by an old German guy (Bauer, believe it or not) and he wanted to keep the old logo. It was a collateral job, bits of stationary and a website update. In the board room when they presented the idea to the suits they found themselves needing to gain their trust, how would they do that when they were wearing jeans and converse and the old suits were, well…suits. Stuck in old times they wanted to produce a powerpoint presentation to show clients when they were considering Bauer as a potential business venture. Elmwood however, proposed to do an animated movie and with no prior experience of the arena found it hard work trying to gain their trust. Yet once on board the journey with them and keeping them at the heart of communication even helping build the idea it became an easy sell. The client eventually became in love with the product before they had even seen it because they had been a part of that creative journey with the designers.
3) Design for humans
You need to start thinking of the real world implications of the designs you make, think of the life of the work beyond it being in the studio and the real audience’s perceptions. A charity rebrand for ‘People Can’ shows how the needs of the client and the client’s audience such as print quality and cost is essential. Keeping things down to Earth with a sense of humour and not being patronising is the safest bet. Do not design for designs sake but for a purpose.
4) It’s not about you
Naturally, people are protective about their designs but think about the idea of releasing things. Commercial writer Jim Davies wanted to produce a direct mail piece and sometimes your ideas need to be commissioned to others that specialise in that area. In this case, the illustrations for the piece were commissioned to illustrator Rob Guy and the guy who had the original idea basically sat back and let it materialise. It is hard to let your baby go but in this case the project was much better off having being let go, there are people out there who have real specialism’s to make your idea even better. Remember to let your guard down.
5) If it feels right do it
University trains you to be a really objective thinker but at the end of the day you still need to have an instinctive feel. Everyone has different ideas on artwork, one person will think its fab and the other crap. Sometimes its all about having the confidence in yourself and your abilities to run with it. The BBC ran a project with primary school children to try and beat the world record for the amount of plants planted in one day. The agency decided straight away that the design wouldn’t be ‘green’ friendly because that doesn’t interest kids. They’re not bothered by how many emissions they’re saving but are interested in having a cool place to sit in the sun, or somewhere to have a picnic or just somewhere for the dog to pee. It was essential to start thinking like a kid. And sometimes the first idea is the best and there’s nothing wrong with that, just explore other avenues before you start to run with it.
Getting your foot through the door
Placements – offer experience and is a brilliant way in
Find the right place – it is important to know that you end up working in the right place for you, not just that you are the right person for them
Find a name
Write a good email
And remember that 50% of it is you and 50% of it is your portfolio
Be memorable, be a sponge and go for it
Don’t be disheartened if things don’t work out the chemistry just isn’t always there in every situation, luck will always play its part!
Elmwood agency here: http://elmwood.com/
Steve Woowat’s site here: http://www.woowat.com/
Simon Morrow here: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/simon-morrow/15/317/77a