A northern arts school has hosted a series of guest lectures from designers in the field of fashion and graphic arts to inspire the next generation of creative artists.
Angela Keeler, a graphic designer from international clothing company, Superdry, shared her expertise in the field of fashion artwork to degree students from Cleveland College of Art and Design (CCAD) during recent visit. In a guest lecture to graphic design and fashion students from the university-level campus in Hartlepool, Angela – currently starting a business as a freelance designer and illustrator – enthused and inspired the audience on her career in the design industry.
Angela began her design career after university, graduating in 2004 with a BA in Fine Art and English Literature, and spending a year in Japan, from which she drew much creative inspiration. After studying for a Masters in Visual Communication in Fashion Illustration in 2008, Angela worked in various advertising agencies in London and the Midlands, and has worked for four years at British fashion brand Superdry, creating the company’s exterior store branding and sales literature worldwide.
During the talk Angela spoke of her drive to build up her skills and experience within in the creative sector, learning the design ropes through on the job training. Her internship with Alexander McQueen and creative agencies with clients such as John Lewis, Waitrose and Lexus helped to build up her portfolio.
She was able to offer a wealth of advice to the students about climbing the career ladder and gaining experience in the industry. She said: “Entering competitions as a tool to develop individual style and get publicity as well as build my website portfolio really worked for me, alongside building on personal connections and networking to promote my skills and expertise. I also found that working my way up and biding my time on the less challenging work really paid off as it helped to develop skills that will last a lifetime and lead to the really creative projects.”
She continued: “It’s been good to get agency and client-side experience. My first role at a London agency was highlight for me – as I had very little money – but being around talented art directors, photographers, designers and artworkers was a great experience.
“Getting the role at Superdry was a big moment too, as I had always wanted to work for a fashion brand and I have learned so much at Superdry as the role is so varied. I have also loved the small businesses I have worked with – creating everything from their logos to brochures and advertisements is pretty rewarding for me as a designer.”
Angela also shared her advice to the keen young artists on keeping their creativity satisfied by developing projects outside work in personal areas of interest such as fashion or music, as well as work experience. This was particularly important to Angela to help ‘prove’ her extra creativity and skills outside of the paid work and led to her career in fashion.
She added: “If you are really lucky maybe it is possible to leave university and go straight into a paid junior role, but in my experience employers want to see what you can do, and what you have done, before taking you on, which I wanted to prepare the students for. Taking an internship was definitely my breakthrough into a design career.”
27-year-old David Harker, a final year graphic design and communication degree student from Billingham found the lecture inspirational. He said: “Angela gave a real insight into the design industry and I learned and took away a great deal from the talk. It gave me a lot to think about when I graduate in July, and opened up a number of options and directions that I can take rather than focusing on one particular area of graphic design.
“After the talk I took Angela through my final major project, a clothing range and brand based on art movements I enjoy such as Cubism, Dada, De Stijl and Bauhaus, which I am hoping to develop further as my own company. We also discussed displaying my work as a look book, instead of producing all my designs as garments. Angela was able to show me some of the look books Superdry have produced in the past and this gave me a good understanding on the professional layout used within industry.”
He added: “Having visiting speakers such as Angela Keeler is motivating to me as a designer but also as a creative person. I have enjoyed being able to interact with key designers and professionals, and being able to gain knowledgeable advice has given me a new prospect of what is required for when I graduate.”
After graduation David plans to set up as a freelance designer, producing designs for clothing and creating brand identities, as well as exploring the possibility of further study with a Master’s Degree.
An audience of first, second and third year illustration and graphic design students were also treated to the second ‘Illustratorpalooza’ event at the college, when three graphic design and illustrators shared their love of the art.
CEO of independent graphic arts company Nobrow in London, Sam Arthur, visited the college for the first time and talked about his career in publishing. Sam and co-founder Alex Spiro set up the award-winning Nobrow in 2008 and over the last 8 years, have worked with some of the best international artists, storytellers and designers and grown into a team of more than 14.
Sam enthused the students with reviews of books inspired by his collection and his love of drawing, including Godzilla and the iconic Ladybird books, now considered design classics. He also talked about his early ambitions to bring books back and buck the trend for all things digital.
He also set up sister publisher Flying Eye Books for children, which won the 2015 Kate Greenaway Medal for William Grill’s book ‘Shackleton’s Journey’, the New York Times Best Illustrated Book of 2014.
Proving to be an inspiration for the next generation of illustrators, Sam demonstrated his passion for working with young artists as he talked about a student who produced a ‘zine’ for his degree show, which was then expanded into an 80-page book.
Offering invaluable advice, Sam stressed the importance of networking and talking to as many people as possible to pursue a career in illustration, and for students not to underestimate the marketing and selling part of business. Impressed with the business component of the BA (Hons) Illustration for Commercial Application part of the course, Sam said: “It’s great that CCAD students have good access to industry speakers and professionals during their course.”
Regular visitors to CCAD, illustrators Drew Millward and Tom J Newell also brought their artistic expertise to the college and enthused the students with their drawing talents.