I was always exposed to opportunities for industry experience, says Connor
After 2 years in the industry, we caught up with BA (Hons) Graphic Communication graduate, Connor, to see what he's doing now and understand how our Graphics course helped him along the way.
What year did you graduate?
Tell us about your experiences on the Graphics course?
My first year on the course was filled with insightful teaching and learning and it was during this first year that my eyes were really opened up to what design actually is and why it matters so much. I was taught how to generate creative ideas, research skills and commercial practising principles of good design. I attended classes on how to bring my ideas to life whether that be through digital or physical platforms.
Throughout the three years of study, I was always exposed to many opportunities for industry experience or opportunities to further develop my skills as a designer. Whether it was an industry professional providing insights from the creative industry or collaborating with a real-world client, there were always opportunities to grow and to develop as a designer.
One particular opportunity that set me up for success early on in my learning journey was the opportunity to intern at a local design studio in the area which allowed me to experience what it was like to work within a design studio and what skills were required to succeed all whilst continuing to study on the course.
What have you been up to since graduating?
Since graduating I took up a position at a creative agency as a junior designer. I have since transitioned from the role of a junior designer (where my roles were quite generalist) to the role of leading digital projects as a digital designer.
I can see (Reflecting back to the first couple of months working within an agency environment) that it’s the experiences and the toolkits I gained on this course provided me with the skills to confidently tackle any design brief that landed on my desk at 9AM each morning.
Where are you working now?
I currently work at Creo, a Cardiff based globally facing creative agency. Creo were the studio that offered me the internship opportunity that I undertook alongside my studies and have helped me to grow my skills and develop my career since graduating. We specialise in shaping brand identities and digital experiences that are underpinned by a strategic vision. In a nutshell, we combine creative thinking, design and technology to solve complex problems for individuals and business.
What is your typical workday like?
Each day is different and with each project, the challenge is always uniquely different too. I’m a digital designer at Creo so it’s my responsibility to lead our digital projects in all phases of the process from identifying and understanding a client’s challenges; investigating how people use and interact with their website, service or product; ideating, prototyping and pitching concepts within the team and finally collaborating with our development team to implement our designs and bring them to life.
What types of projects have you worked on?
The types of problems I get to solve vary (just like how my day-to-day varies at Creo). I’ve been able to go from designing for utility and creating digital tools that help tenants to manage their tenancy at Taff Housing to designing for identity and crafting a bespoke typeface for a football club in Lagos that amplifies the voice of the people and their culture.
How did the Graphic Communication course help you get on your career path?
There were countless amounts of teaching and learning experiences and opportunities that the lecturers and the course provided me with that really helped me find my career path. One of those opportunities was to travel to Bristol to attend a weekend studio experience called Werkhouse. This opportunity provided me with the creative and interpersonal skills required to succeed in a design studio. It set me up for success quite early on in my career path and allowed me to get some experience under my belt before considering where and who to apply for. The Wekhouse experience allowed me to work with 20 design professionals from the industry, rapidly develop ideas and then communicate our concepts to the client during that weekend — the MetOffice. This opportunity really pushed me out of my comfort zone and better prepared me for what skills are needed to work within a design studio.
What was your favourite module/s that you worked on?
For me personally, I really enjoyed the Professional Development module from the aspect of getting you to think about what you want to achieve and where you’d like to go in your career. The module really got me to take those brave and ambitious goals and to formalise them into a strategic plan for myself. Even to this day, (about 2 years into my career) I still use the things I was taught in this module to make sure I’m still hitting my personal career goals or to help me to define new goals if I need them.
Why should a young creative pick the Graphic Communication course?
When I first got into design, I thought design was just about making cool visuals but when I joined the Graphic Communication course, I learned that design is so much more powerful than that. Design is a responsibility, it needs to make you feel something, react to, it impacts every moment of our lives, and it shapes out future.
Joining this Graphic Communication course means that you’ll develop your creative thinking and gain toolkits to solve real-world problems in creative ways whether that’s through the medium of a motion graphics, mobile applications or maybe even as simple as a poster. Combine these creative toolkits with the ‘curious mindset’ that’s initialled in you by the lecturers, and you’ll quickly learn how to uncover the challenges faced by people in the real world and how you as a designer can bring about change and impact to people’s lives.
What words of advice would you give anyone that’s just about to start the Graphics communication course?
The best advice I can give….
I think there’s a lot you can do to really make sure you’re getting the best out of your time on the course so here’s my 5 pieces of advice I’d give to someone about to start the course:
1. Don’t feel like you need to have it all figured out. If you’re unsure where you want to go or what you want to focus on just explore and take an interest in each module. It will give you an idea of what you are insanely passionate about and what you are not so passionate about.
2. Be brave and don’t be afraid to take risks and fail. Challenge yourself within those briefs and get outside of your comfort zone because that’s where progress happens. But most importantly have fun with it.
3. Talk to a lot of people. Not so much face to face at the moment but keep an eye on virtual events or even having a quick chat with someone online. I learned that much of design is social and that connecting with someone you might not have considered can open doors to new perspectives.
4. Work hard. The opportunities that the course provides is so invaluable. Take advantage of as many opportunities as you can whilst you’re in the course network of other like-minded creatives and industry professionals.
5. Nerves are never a disadvantage. Here’s one that’s really helped me personally. It’s okay to be nervous about your showing or even talking about your work. Nerves show passion, they show that you really care deeply about something. Be yourself, have your own opinions and take pride in your ideas – even if you are feeling nervous. It’s part of the learning process.
Personal Website: connorjones.co