Kate Moross: “Create spaces to share work, gain experience and get paid”

After mentoring a group of designers from around the world in 2020, the founder and creative director of Studio Moross talks about supporting young talent.

“The mentorship element of the project was really why I was so keen to be involved,” says Kate Moross, founder and creative director of their eponymous Studio Moross, of their recent work with beer brand Desperados.

In 2020, during the first national coronavirus lockdown in the UK, Moross was approached by the brand to lead a creative project which also involved mentoring a group of young designers and artists from around the world.

The aim was to take the emerging talents, many of whom had only ever worked on a self-initiated, university or other educational project, and give them experience of a real-life client project.

“It was like a client project with a support group attached – essentially a mini studio,” says Moross.

“Each designer had an area they could expand on”

The brief handed to Moross and the eight emerging designers (known as the Desperados Design Collective) was to create a series of posters to represent different Desperados products, which would then be used as part of a campaign throughout 2021.

As each designer developed their own poster, they were mentored by Moross and other designers at Studio Moross. Moross’ aim for the experience was to challenge each designer to push their practice on further.

“I could see from their portfolios beforehand that each designer had an area of their work they could expand on and develop,” they say, whether it was in typography, 3D design, illustration or animation.

Encouraging mentees to move forward stylistically was one part of a larger effort to break other boundaries too, says Moross. These boundaries could include different attitudes to design in their home country, only previously working with limited resources, or simply never having had a client project before.

“Adapt and adopt those lessons for their own work”

Moross explains fostering an atmosphere of unity is important while working with and mentoring emerging talent. This is even more relevant during a pandemic, which has forced designers and students alike out of communal workspaces.

In the case of the Desperados project, where those involved were spread around the world with only an internet connection to link them, the idea was to show “we’re all in this together”, they say. This was one of the reasons Moross designed two posters alongside the younger team.

“It meant we could all go from rough sketches to the finished product together over several weeks in big group sessions,” they say. “When we received a positive response from the client about one of the posters, we would learn from that and other people who needed to develop their posters further would then adapt and adopt those lessons for their own work.”

Since this is the process that studios often go through with creative work, Moross says it’s an invaluable experience to go through in a supported setting. On top of this, it gives first hand experience for things like virtual presenting and learning, which studios and other design professionals themselves were getting to grips with at the start of the pandemic.

“Commercially beneficial for everyone involved”

Studio Moross is no stranger to outreach work for young talent, with Moross explaining the consultancy regularly offers internships. Because of their familiarity with the process, and with what works and what doesn’t, they say they were able to direct Desperados’ programme in ways they knew would work best.

“One of the first things we did was to ensure we had group sessions, rather than one-to-ones all the time,” says Moross. One-to-one sessions can be tempting for would-be mentors because of the undivided attention on offer, but as Moross explains: “There’s so much more you can learn in hearing someone else receive feedback and asking questions you may not have thought of yet.”

Crucially, the experience was a chance for the young designers to “create work, gain experience and get paid”, says Moross. Since paid internships and work experience placements are still rare in the design world, they highlight this Desperados opportunity as “the dream”.

“We always want to work with young talent on projects that are commercially beneficial for everyone involved,” they say.

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