Before 2012, I had an epiphany, “wouldn’t it be great to finish my formal education in an arts related degree?” I pondered this for a while, as it was at this point in my life I was working for a photography studio retouching photographs all day. I felt satisfied that I was earning money but very dissatisfied with my career, which was going nowhere fast. I was torn between the certainty of employment and the uncertainty of diving into higher education; and having to quit my current job if I did. Thankfully I discovered the option to start a degree course part-time. This was perfect as it would enable me to work while I learn; the downside was that it would take six years to complete. I decided to take the plunge and secured an interview at Derby University and got an unconditional offer for my chosen course in B.A (Hons) in Graphic Design.
So my 6 year journey began, I promised myself I’d put all my effort into my work at university and to utilise my experience in photo editing to my advantage. I soon got into the swing of things at university and started to stack up the grades. For my first grades I was achieving 85%, I was surprised and even more determined to reach for the skies so I tried harder and achieved 90% for the next part of the course again.
I entered an award for my project on unique packaging and point of sale design for Morrisons Energy Saving Bulbs. The Point of Sale piece is a triangular modular design that interlocks to increase capacity dependent on the space available in the supermarket. The packaging for the bulbs were designed in a triangular form where the corners pop and lock into place to secure the bulbs. I won Silver overall.
Then, disaster struck. The news that I was to be made redundant as the entire photo studio I worked at for the last 7 years was about to close due. This put me in a very difficult position, as I had to earn to pay my bills and fund the remaining three years of my degree. Luckily the university has a careers centre and I managed to get a couple of jobs internally as a student ambassador, working with the marketing team as their designer and a internship at a new local start-up brewery in Derby. Shortly after this, I started following a design company on Facebook called Design Pit. I liked their work and the activity on Facebook so I started to interact with them more. I even asked if I could interview them for a university project and they said yes! I went to meet Design Pit at their offices in Lichfield to meet the Creative Director Gareth Robertson. It was a surprise to discover that Design Pit was in fact, just Gareth! The website painted a much different picture, it looked so much bigger than a one man band and I really liked the way Gareth intended to grow it as a business.
I kept in touch with Gareth and not long after this, he approached me with a small project that he needed some help with. And within a couple of weeks, I managed to bag a part-time graphic design job at Design Pit; and the rest they say, is history.
Settling Down in Life
I continued my studies, but yet further challenges awaited. Wedding planning and a house move made concentrating on my studies incredibly difficult, but I knew I had to knuckle down and focus as I’d come so far and my grades were really high. Just to add to my already heavy workload, I entered the 2016 YCN Award for a packaging design project I made for Fedrigoni Paper. It all happened so quickly, but I won the YCN student award.
I had a surprise letter from the Dean of my University, it contained an award I wasn’t aware of called, ‘ The Ede and Ravenscroft Prize’ which is a cash prize of £700 awarded to one student per faculty for gaining the highest grade within that faculty for first and second year modules. This gave me a much-needed boost to continue to work hard and focus on my studies as much as possible!
Recently completed my final major degree project called, ‘DiverseMinds’ which is an informative pack for a campaign to help employers understand Autism more in the working environment. Inspiration was taken from the personal perspectives of autistic people. The design is eye-catching, informative and visually engaging as well as having useful information on autistic people at work and the positives. The pack consists of a booklet guide, compact foldable poster and postcards. I achieved 90% in my grades for this project and taking into account the other grades over the six years of study, I will achieve a first class honours in graphic design, which has made all of the hard work, 100% worth it!