Sunday, 11 March 2012

Keynote Speaker - Angus Montgomery

Angus Montgomery is the editor of Design Week. He's been working there for 3 years, and was made editor last year. He's from a multi-disciplinary background, and has been a journalist for 10 years. Design Week mainly reports on the design industry and design education.

The aims of this talk were: to pass on advice, to show examples of his favourite design projects over the last 2/3 years, and to explain why he's so envious of people with the skills to become a designer.

There have been two major points that have come up over the last few years. These being:

  1. How to break into the design industry
  2. The cost of education
Design Week asked several senior professionals in the industry for advice on how to break into the industry. Simon Manchip, founder of SomeOne advertising agency, says, pitching yourself is very important; work hard and be smart. His agency looks for lateral, excited thinkers straight from college. Rhiannon James, the D&AD Director of Education, says, 'we should nurture the best talent', and that D&AD winners gain employment within 3 months of graduating. Lizzie Mary Cullen, an illustrator, and winner of New Designers One Year On, says, 'more emphasis should be placed on marketing yourself, with a business mindset being vital.' Greg Quinton, of The Partners consultancy, says a 3 point action plan should be in place:
  1. Encourage students to get off the internet, to stop them looking at what every one else is looking at
  2. Collaborate with your peers - find a space that's big enough for group working
  3. Love what you do! PASSION is a MUST! Show it and promote yourself with it.
Greg's three-point-plan, sounds like it could be very effective. The steps seem very reasonable, and seem like they could quite easily be achieved. I think that this may be something that I think about in my work. I am incredibly guilty of the first point; I find myself looking on the internet for artists and illustrators a lot of the time. I need to get in the habit of looking more at books or magazines, and I believe if I start looking somewhere else rather than the internet, then I will already be well on my way to this three-point plan.

On the topic of student fees, the same senior professionals were also asked, 'would you pay £9,000 a year to become a designer?' Not a single person said 'no', they all said they would pay this within a heart beat. I suppose that once you have become a successful designer, then it's easy to say this, but if you are a struggling designer, then it may not be such an easy question to answer.  Saying this however, a lot of this job is based on passion, and even if you are struggling, if you have the passion, then it would probably be an easy question to answer. I would like to think in the future, that, even if I am struggling to enter this industry, and/or to get work, that I would still have the passion to carry on with it, and not give up. But that may be another thing altogether when it's actually happening.

Angus then went on to show some examples of his favourite projects from the last 2/3 years. He showed his favourite print project, which was by B&W Studio, who designed the homelessness charity, St. George's Crypt annual report. The report was A2 size, because that is the size of the blankets homeless people sleep under. The report had pictures of people affected by homelessness and included their stories.

Angus also showed some of his favourite student works from the past few years. His favourite of which was a project of several posters for the Olympics, by a student called Alan Clarke, a graphic designer who graduated from Falmouth. The concept of movement in this set of work is amazing. It really looks like the posters are moving.

Angus finished with this piece of advice, it's up to you to take your talent and package it professionally so that you can break into the industry. I believe that this is a very important piece of advice. Yes, if you are lucky enough to be university, then you do have tutors there who can help you prepare, but overall, it is up to YOU to package yourself as a professional, and how you want future clients to see you. You can't rely on someone else all the time, and you have to learn to stand on your own two feet, even if that means success or failure; we learn from them both.

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