Design Symposium was originally conceived in 2007 by Liverpool agencies Uniform, Smiling Wolf and Black & Ginger. The event is run in collaboration with natural industry organisations D&AD and DBA alongside the city’s creative industry bodies, Merseyside ACME and Design Initiative along with venue sponsor LJMU and media partner How-Do. The symposium exists to bring together design professionals, design buyers and students and to raise the profile of design and creativity in the Northwest.
I attended a portfolio surgery, a workshop and a lecture at this event at Liverpool, seeking to gain valuable advice from professionals.
D&AD Portfolio Surgeries and Work Placement Offer
I was lucky enough to have 3 portfolio surgery sessions, where I presented my portfolio to a creative from Chase, Tim Sharp from Uniform and Stuart Radford from Radford Wallis. I was seeking criticism, I wanted good honest advice about how to make my portfolio better, and this I received. They told me how to improve the presentation of my work: bigger images rather than lots of small ones because these lose the detail, and black borders taken away so it looks clean. The best bits of the projects should be highlighted by enlarging sections and presenting it on its own in a clean white page. It is about selling your work, each page should speak for its self. Another tip was that more of the work should be presented in site so that the work seems more real and is given context. I recieved positive criticism in general, the professionals liked the hand-crafted illustrative style of my work, but said that some work should be more on brand and a bit less personal. In particular, an Alton Towers project that I did needs to look more like it is for Alton Towers, so I am going to work on that.
Tim Sharp also talked about pace, where it is interesting to vary layout, in a book for example, rather than being consistent which the use of space, so that it is more surprising to the viewer. This sounds obvious and I don't know why I have not thought about this a lot. I need to consider this in projects as well as my portfolio.
At the end of the session Tim Sharp from Uniform asked if I would be interested in doing a work placement, and after emailing I was offered a 2 week placement in February which I am delighted about.
These surgeries were extremely useful and I am so glad that I went. I believe when I make these alterations my portfolio will look much more professional, and I am very excited about doing the 2 week placement with Uniform.
This was run by the organization Shellsuit Zombie, which is made up of recent graduates who want to help graduating students meet creative industries. They gave advice on how to network, how to present ourselves well and how to go about initially finding a job.
They highly advised:
-Doing a placement. These look good on the CV, can produce portfolio work, they can give you exposure and even a job, and you learn so much while doing them.
-Any commercial work you can for anybody, even for friends and family, anything paid just as long as it is something live and real.
-Networking and giving yourself exposure is also vital. Attend events that give you contact to clients, such as this, and apply to exhibitions such as New Blood in London, a D&AD graduate show that attracts many professional creative’s.
It is so important to do other work other than university. It is vital you gain experience with real briefs. When applying for jobs, professionals will be looking for a level of this experience, so I am doing all I can this year to gain experience outside university. They hammered in the fact that you have to work very very hard to get somewhere. Shellsuit Zombie are doing just that themselves.
What I did not like about the session was that they said most major design groups are in London. They did say this does not have to be a starting place, but it is a place you might end up. Shellsuit Zombie moved to London themselves. I do not want to move to London, so this worries me a bit, but there has to be good job opportunities outside London, maybe just fewer of them. So I'll just have to work even harder.
D&AD Student Award Talk
Stuart Radford, who did one of my portfolio surgeries, introduced Radford Wallis who are a multi-disciplined design company based in London. Stuart Radford has been creative director of the company for 10 years, and their clients include Land Securities, Norwich Union, Ted Baker, Royal Mail and D&AD, along with many others.
Radford talked about a few of the briefs he has worked on. One lovely little piece was a miniature brochure for Hopkins Architects that reflected the client’s environmentally friendly philosophy with paper that continuously unfolded to reveal the words recycle, renew, reduce and reuse. It is a simple idea that is interactive and enticing. It made me think about how this unfolding technique of paper could be used in other formats, such as business cards? I think that interactive pieces will always create intrigue and excitement.
Radford commented on how important it is that you should always enjoy a project. In the lecture he talked about how much fun he had had on the project, Fayre on the Square, for the National Hospital Development Foundation. They were asked to design material to advertise a summer fayre fundraiser. Taking inspiration from the events location, they created different shapes out of turf that would represent the Fayre. I like the fact this project involved a very hands on approach of much cutting and Radford said he enjoyed this. The shapes were then advertised and used in posters, and the results were cute, fun and engaging.
Following this talk by Stuart Radford, we were then informed of the D&AD awards. The winners and runners-up of this competition get a reputation and publicity and more often that not you get offered a good job. It was explained that industry are supporting new talent, and when you enter a competition like this it shows you have a level of confidence to present yourself, which is vital in getting a job. Awards are a good place to start presenting yourself in a professional standard.
The awards are judged upon firstly, good ideas, then something that is well executed and something that is on brief. The size of the boards, where your work will be presented for judgment, vitally needs to be considered. Presentation is key - will it stand out, will it be different from others?
We were then taken through this years briefs and shown examples of previous student entries that had received an award. This years winner was an idea for the Ikea Catalogue, where the items it sells were categorised by colour in an illustrated spectrum. Customers could then easily view the items that matched in colour. A simple idea that makes complete sense.
We were told that digital entries have more chance of winning because fewer people take this route. It is also what is needed in industry at the moment, designers who are capable of doing moving image. The advice was to think about where it goes, push the idea and push the boundaries. Thinking about how far it goes rather than where it stops is a better way of thinking. In presentation, demonstrate how you do things, not just what you've done in this instance. In these awards, as well as in industry, they are looking for flexible problem solving and a breadth of ideas.
I thought that these awards sounded like a really good way to promote yourself, and so I am hopefully going to enter as long as I can find the time. It sounds like an opportunity that should not be missed.