Advice for this year’s design graduates

We asked for some top tips for those looking to break into the design industry.

‘Rather than give advice I’d tell them what I did upon graduating.

Paul Bailey

• Found any junior designer role at a decent London studio
• Used living in London as a way of being closer to the studio I really wanted to work for

• Repeatedly contacted the ‘dream’ studio by:
– Calling them to say hi

– Hand-delivering press clippings of their work when it appeared in Design Week (there was no email)

- Just so happening to drink in their local pub and ‘bump’ into them

Within three months of me being in London they needed a junior designer and I had put myself in the right place for consideration. Either that or they thought they couldn’t get rid of me so they might as well employ me. I left my first job and went to work for them for three fantastic years before founding 1977 Design. And no, I’m not saying which is my local pub.’

Paul Bailey, partner, 1977 Design

Chris Waggott

‘Start early. While still in our second year at Goldsmiths in between internships (which are also invaluable) my colleagues and myself won opportunity to exhibit an installation for free during London Design Week by entering competitions online. This gave us some really good exposure and laid the foundation for us to continue working both together and independently on projects today. It was also a really good opportunity for us to start building a network of contacts that we still work with today.’

Chris Waggott, multidisciplinery designer

Nick Couch

‘In the words of Anthony Burrill, “Work Hard And Be Nice To People”. It’s what makes the difference.’

Nick Couch, founder, Deskcamping

Graham Shearsby

’The graduates of 2013 are fortunate to be stretching their wings in a year (backed up by the DW Top 100 survey) that finds the design sector genuinely bullish and more confident than it has been for many a year. This, combined with a fantastic display of talent at this year’s degree shows, and certainly backed up by winners of our very own DB awards, means 2013 could be a bit of a vintage year. My advice to our industry’s new blood is to really seize this moment, and go for it. Keep the momentum and energy up that has gone into your degree show and contact away. Realise this is a highly competitive world. Thoroughly research into the agencies you admire, not just creative output but culture and philosophy, don’t just turn up with your folder knowing little about the company. An inspiring presentation of your best work is key, but show us your sketchbooks and talk through your insights and creative sparks that got you to the final piece. You will be judged not only on your work ,but your attitude and keenness to listen and learn. We will all be investing time and effort into coaching and helping you to grow. If you do manage to get a foot in the door, remember the ancient craft of tea making is still vitally important!’

Graham Shearsby, group creative director, Design Bridge

Lizzie Mary Cullen

’Enter every competition you can, and apply to exhibit your stuff at all the shows – New Blood, New Designers, etc. Those are the shows that can get you clients, and kick start your design career. Make the most from the contacts you make. Cultivate them, and build relationships. Always be friendly, and don’t sit on your arse waiting for things to happen – you have to create your own opportunities.’

Lizzie Mary Cullen, illustrator

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  • John Lowdon November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am


    Don’t get lost in the vast visually rich world of Pinterest, Dribble and Behance. There are too many regurgitation’s of the same idea constantly being posted.

    Approach work and solutions laterally. Arrive at a solution from an unexpected place and avenue of discovery.

    Sketch, draw, print, get messy!

    Don’t stay long at an agency who disregard your exciting fresh thinking in favour of training you up to be a speedy Mac monkey (other makes of monkey available).

    We need a generation of original creators please!

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