Where Are You Now?

Where Are You Now?

Well, here’s a thing. I’ve been teaching for nineteen years. That’s absolutely ages! I am still in touch with lots of ex-students (thanks, Facebook!) many of whom have gone one to work in the design industry. You know how I am always proud of your achievements and like to talk about you to new students, well I was thinking that I’d ask you to post a brief summary of what you are doing now – workwise and personally. Add links to your own portfolios, websites and blogs, as well as the companies you work for. I’d like to think this will be inspirational for all my current students (hi dudes!) and future ones, and an opportunity for some networking too.  It doesn’t have to be a full autobiography, just a couple of sentences, but don’t forget to add your links!

Please forward this message to all the people you studied with that you are still in contact with. I look forward to reading your replies.


10 thoughts on “Where Are You Now?

  1. Jodie Cole is a graphic designer working for Wymondham based Naked Marketing. She started her journey back in 2001 by becoming a student at the College of West Anglia. Throwing herself into the world of design, she soon realised that this was the career for her.

    Chris Skinner (her tutor for the second half of her National Diploma) introduced her to the likes of Josef Muller-Brockman and Saul Bass who soon became her favourite designers. Since then, Vince Frost, the gang at Sea Design and the legend that is Robert Brown-John have jumped onto the band wagon!

    Her success at the college led her onto a 2 year HND at the University of Lincoln which seemed to whiz by before her eyes due to its action packed timetable, and the odd alcohol fuelled evening! However after completing the 2 years she decided that she wasn’t ready for to enter the design world. She felt her work wasn’t good enough and therefore made one of the best decisions of her life and topped her HND up to a degree. Finally donning her cap and gown a year later, she graduated with a 2:1 and a much stronger portfolio!

    Moving back home to Norfolk, she spent the next 6 months frustratingly applying for job after job and finally landed on her feet at Naked Marketing and hasn’t looked back since. She simply loves her job and being a graphic designer is everything she thought it would be, so thanks Chris!

  2. Dan Simkins,

    is currently a third year graphic design student at nottingham trent juggling endless projects and a 7 thousand word dissertation of which he has completed now. But he is loving every minute of it.

    I would call myself a designer with a passion for type. This was all nurtured by Chris whos love of type rubbed off on me and ive never looked back. Like Jodie Muller-Brockman is a massive influence for me and also Wim Crouwell is a genius and was way beore his time.

    Ive just landed work experience for cubiq design in cambridge over easter so i am doing a few weeks with them and its all very positive.

    Also literally yesterday i created a blog and put up a selection of my personnal work with other designers and all work from my third year.


    So please have a look leave any comments you want. Like Jodie im so pleased i went into graphic design every day is different from the next and i cannot wait to get into the real world of design. As my tutors said in our business meeting yesterday i have 15 weeks left to complete a whole load of work, so id better dash and get on.

    Please if you want to ask about my experience at uni or about anything you see on my blog please feel free to email me at

    one last thing, i owe chris a big thanks for pushing me to apply to nottingham trent i never thought i would have been good enough but yet here i am, so a big thanks to chris.

  3. Christian Bird,

    A brief history!

    I studied at The College of West Anglia, forever grateful for Skinner’s wise words, critical words, and weird music taste. I then joined the BA (Hons) Graphic Design at Norwich School of Art & Design, under Ray Gregory. I left with a strong packaging and identity portfolio, in hand, to travel between the studios and agencies in the big smoke looking for a job. I joined Brandhouse WTS within a week, where I have now worked for three years, recently moving the studio to our current offices in Notting Hill.

    The work is varied, and people great. I’ve designed for Galaxy chocolate, San Miguel, Maltesers, Dewars and All Bar One. I’ve travelled with work for photo shoots and research, always a good thing! I also freelance, in the few hours outside of Brandhouse, to work on film titles and music design (covers / posters). I’ve got two film coming out with my title designs in the summer, both independent shorts, and both really fun to work on.

    I have occasionally popped back to King’s Lynn to meet new students, all with new ideas and ways of working. I like to think that I may have some good advice, and enjoy their fresh thinking in a continually evolving industry (a reminder to keep on my toes!)

  4. Hi Stuart, thanks for your honesty and insight. Keep trying to regain your passion my friend, because if I remember right (am am getting on abit now!) you had some proper talent. If you’re thinking there’s something more out there, it’s probably because there is…

  5. Lydia Norman (affectionately known as Stormin’ by said Skinner!) was lucky enough to be under the tuition of Skinner for a year, during a foundation course at COWA in 2006/7.

    She’s currently in her second year of a degree in graphic design at Nottingham Trent University, and seems to do nothing but work! She loves all of the design, but the volume of work sometimes makes her wonder why her lecturers think she wants to do nothing else with her time!

    At the time she was offered a place on this course, 800 people applied, and 120 people were offered a place. Lydia thinks of this in itself as an achievement (and one which she would not have reached without the guidance from Skinner!… She particularly remembers almost a whole afternoon in the drawing studio at college going through interview techniques with Skinner, and practicing a good hand shake!)

    Lydia would describe herself as a creative, a designer, with a few particular interests within that, but mainly just enjoys visual wit, intellect, and beauty of any kind.

    After graduation, Lydia sees herself working either in film production or in letterpress. Preferably the latter, of which the companies are very few and far between, and would almost certainly involve moving to London.

    Recently Lydia made contact with, and visited a small Letterpress company in Tufnell park, run by two wonderful women, Harrington and Squires. http://www.harringtonandsquires.co.uk/
    She hopes to do work like this herself, and not spending her whole career looking at a mac screen!

    Lydia has just finished designing for a competition set by George, the Asda clothing range. Her work was selected for the final and she traveled to George HQ to make a pitch to a panel of 6 judges, who included the head of George, the head of womens fashionwear, a journalist from the Sunday Times, 2 people from the PR department of George, and the head of marketing. Unfortunately her design wasn’t as strong as another, so only got that far. Although she didn’t win, she’s still proud of herself and her design!

    Lydia’s currently working on producing some idents for Sky travel, and, in three weeks time will travel down to London to pitch her designs to Sky.

    On occasions Lydia finds that design can be the most frustrating, irritating experience! Although this is usually down to her own perfectionist attitude. For the rest of the time, design, amongst other things, is what makes her happy 🙂

  6. Wayne Hart AKA ‘Wanj’

    Typographer, Designer, Apprentice Lettercutter and Trainee Calligrapher

    My journey began in 2003 when I joined my fellow students, later known as the Graphic All Stars, on the BTEC ND Graphic Design course at the College of West Anglia. I remember that first day well: I sat at the desk, coat zipped up to my chin, sporting an overly-gelled hairstyle and peering over my glasses at the people around me. How times have changed. You see, my time at College was not just a time for the development of my design skills, but it was also the setting for a number of personal transformations.

    My original intention when starting the course had been to become a graphic designer. My knowledge on the subject was limited and I had no idea of the diversity of potential jobs available. It was with the introduction of several typography projects that I began to realise which direction I wanted to take. During a trip to Norwich, I asked Skinner about universities which specialised in typography. There was but one, THE one, the University of Reading. From that point I began to manipulate every project typographically.

    When the time came to begin looking at universities, I already knew that Reading was my number one choice. However, I researched profusely so that in the event I didn’t get in I would have two very good backups. I visited all three of my top choices, but only fell in love with Reading. This made me even more motivated to create the best possible portfolio. By the time my interview came, Skinner had prepared me as much as he could. My portfolio was well presented and this really impressed my interviewer. I was offered a conditional place at the end of my interview – I needed to achieve three Distinctions in my final year at College. I succeeded with my final major project, a typeface design.

    When I started my course at University, I was the only student to have come from a National Diploma. This meant that much of the first year was spent revising my knowledge and skills, something which ultimately led to me getting 100% on two tests. I involved myself in everything that I could including being a student representative, student chair and helping out with exhibitions. At one exhibition I was fortunate enough to meet and have a discussion with Ken Garland, though I did not realise who he was immediately.

    I was fortunate enough to hold two jobs in the department. The first was a one-month placement in the Design & Print Unit. Here I designed for a range of printed material for both the University and for external clients. I continued to work for clients during my second and third year at University via the ‘real job’ scheme in which tutors would mentor us through each project. My second job at University was as an archivist for the large Banks & Miles collection. I organised a large quantity of the collection and was granted permission to take some pieces for myself.

    It was during my second year at University that I began to find times more difficult. Granted, the course was inevitably getting harder, but my problems were rooted in aspects of my life that I had not yet come to terms with. On top of this I was overworking myself in a part-time job, wasn’t sleeping properly and I lost a lot of weight. During this time, some of my work was not at its best and I even began to question whether it was what I wanted to do anymore. However, I kept at it and this low part of my life passed. I rectified some pieces of my work for final evaluations and was able to secure a decent grade upon graduating.

    Once I had graduated and returned home to Norfolk, I was at a loss as I wasn’t sure which direction I wanted to take. Combined, my courses had given me both creative and technical skills. My main problem was that the recession had destroyed most job opportunities. I visited Skinner at College and went through my portfolio with him. We established that though it wasn’t the most creative of portfolios, it was a strong commercial one. He also gave me invaluable advice on how to go about getting jobs. The next few months were spent phoning studios and checking vacancies on a number of creative websites. I applied to those I was interested in, but found it extremely difficult to get interviews. I had no choice but to register for Job Seeker’s Allowance and remained so until I was able to find enough freelance work to sustain myself financially.

    My first stroke of luck came in the form of Paul Antonio, a scribe based in London. I had originally met him at a conference at the St Bride Library where he was demonstrating his skills. He had then been put in touch with me whilst I was still at University as he was interested in my dissertation topic. It was sometime during December 2008 that I finally visited him at his studio. We discussed what he could do for me and we agreed on some training in calligraphy. I have had the occasional session since, but intend to practice more seriously in the upcoming year.

    One of the best things I did upon graduating was re-establish my links with the King’s Lynn Arts Centre. I volunteered to help the staff with a number of events and showed my portfolio to the manager, Liz Falconbridge. She was very impressed with what she saw and I was later offered a number of design jobs and my own studio at Greyfriars Art Space, another gallery based in King’s Lynn.

    During the early months of 2009 I began to get interviews with some very prestigious publishers including Macmillan and the Cambridge University Press. When it came to these interviews, I was already well prepared from others which had been unsuccessful in the past. Unfortunately, I was not successful on these occasions either due to my lack of experience. That being said, I did ask for feedback, all of which was positive.

    Though all the rejection was hard to handle, I do believe it happened for a reason. I began to question what it was I really wanted to do and started a personal development folder. I really knuckled down and outlined what I wished to do with my life and how to best go about achieving each goal. I looked through my work and began to notice a pattern to the projects I enjoyed the most and those I was good at. Generally these consisted of editorial, typographic, lettering and other print-based works. Thus I began contacting a number of relevant professionals and investing a lot of money into making visits. One of my visits was to a well-known lettercutter named Richard Kindersley. I had been put in touch with him through Gary Breeze, one of his ex-assistants. When I initially phoned him I was told that he did not have any opportunities. I visited him at his studio in London where he showed me his work and I mine. He was impressed with what he saw and offered me three weeks worth of experience later in the year.

    I continued to network with a number of typographers and lettering artists, many of whom I remain in touch with. It was later in 2009 that an opportunity arose for an apprenticeship with Pip Hall, a lettercutter, through the Memorial Arts Charity. I applied but was unsuccessful. However, I had made myself known. A month or so later there was another opportunity, this time at the Cardozo Kindersley workshop in Cambridge. I attended an interview and was told that I was one of five strong candidates. Lida Cardozo also mentioned that if it was her decision alone she would have taken me on there and then. Again, I was unsuccessful.

    It was in September that I began my work experience with Richard Kindersley. I spent the first week drawing out an alphabet based on Roman inscriptions. This really got me looking in-depth at the different aspects of each letter. The second and third weeks consisted of more drawing of Roman letters, polishing and carving a piece of slate, helping out around the studio from time to time and visiting a carving exhibition at West Dean. I also made visits to a type foundry named Fontsmith and later to Alan Kitching. He viewed my portfolio and wishes for me to stay in touch as he may have opportunities in the future. At the end of the three weeks with Richard, we discussed my future and he was extremely helpful with his advice. He indicated that he would help me should I ever need it and even mentioned that, in time, he may have work for me.

    The day I finished my experience, I had two emails. One was from Harriet Frazer, the manager of the Memorial Arts Charity, and the other from Pip Hall. In a nutshell, the previously chosen apprentice had unexpectedly quit the training scheme and Pip needed a replacement. I was the next in line. As there was a Letter Exchange lecture approaching, I arranged to meet Pip for a talk there. We discussed the scheme and I agreed to visit her studio in Cumbria to get a feel for the place. Though the location was remote, I knew the apprenticeship was for me and so I accepted the offer. I began my apprenticeship in November and I am progressing extremely well.

    I recently relinquished my studio in King’s Lynn and moved to Cumbria for my apprenticeship. This, and my other creative pursuits, will be recorded on my blog which will be up and running very soon. I am lucky enough to now be in the right circles and will strive to push my career forward and to achieve all of my ambitions. The year ahead looks to be a fruitful one with offers of further training and funding, writing and teaching opportunities, contacts to be made, some exciting freelance projects and the chance to really explore my creativity. This really does feel like the beginning of something amazing!

  7. I had the pleasure of Chris’ teachings way back in the dark ages when he was at The Sheffield College and I can safely say I’ve never met anyone quite like him! He introduced me to the delights of typography and opened my eyes to new ways to look at type – “look at those curves!”

    Since completing my HND it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster ride. From my very first day at work on a Pinky & Perky photoshoot, to losing my sister, redundancy, sexual harrassment tribunal, unfair dismissal…those were some very dark years for me. But then I came out the other side a stronger person!

    I’ve now been working as a freelance designer for the past 5 years and business is good I’m glad to say. I’ve done a lot of toy packaging for National Geographic and have just been illustrating some new products for their ‘Kids’ range. I was lucky to have a design chosen to be one of the official 2008 Glastonbury t-shirts and almost got to design the 2007 tour t-shirt for Stereophonics. At the moment I’ve got a big project on designing packaging and manuals for Richard Hammond’s Blast Lab products, which is pretty fantastic I think!

    I do have a portfolio website but it’s currently under construction (I’m too busy doing other people’s work!) but I’ll put the link up for when it does get finished…in about 100 years time. http://www.claresavage.talktalk.net/

    So here I am, 10 years in the industry and what have I learnt? Life will kick you in the teeth at every opportunity. The company you work for will almost always try to beat any creativity out of you, and if they don’t then you’re one of the lucky ones. Men will always try to look down your top… I’ve made some unlucky choices and got lost on the way, but I’m finding my way back. You pick yourself up, dust yourself down, hold your head up high and keep smiling. I’m blessed with the people I’ve met along the way doing a job I love and I wouldn’t change a single thing! And to think it all started with some mad, crazy tutor waving at me across a crowded hall…

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