Marion Bisserier reflects on her time working in Paris.
One month ago, I started my internship at Artworklove in Paris. The studio is lead by Marion Laurens and Linda Ouiddir. The studio specialises in print and cultural briefs, with clients such as Theatre de Lorient, photographer Mathias Depardon but also more corporate work such as Bouygues Immobilier on architectural projects or luxury brands such as Cartier or Givenchy.
As this was my first graphic design work experience, I had no idea what to expect nor how I was going to work. Now it has been a month and I am happy to be in the team. Since it is a small studio, I got to know everyone quickly and was involved in the projects from early on. On my first two weeks, I was mainly working on the design of the screen printed posters, invitations and flyers for the new shows of the Theatre de Lorient. The identity being 100% typographic, I really felt in my element. The most challenging part was to continuously modify and adapt the design to the client’s needs, especially when we had to incorporate a lot more text than we were given originally. Working on this project, I learned that being an efficient designer means anticipating modifications and planning adaptable designs instead of creating a single complex and rigid option.
On the last two weeks, the pace in the studio increased as we had a lot of deadlines approaching, including Mathias Depardon’s photography exhibition and an invitation for the inauguration of the Tribunal de Paris, a building designed by Renzo Piano. This meant that I had to manage more projects at the same time. In the beginning I struggled to switch from one project to another in a short time and didn’t always manage to be on top of each task. After a few days, I became more comfortable with the timings. Although the pace was more stressful, I enjoyed exploring the different environments of each project, going from branding to exhibition graphics, and improving my multitasking as well as time management skills.
I was especially happy with my contribution to Mathias Depardon’s exhibition graphics. Designing paragraphs and a map at a scale of a four meters high wall was a first for me. By working with Marion, I developed my attention to typographic details such as rivers, hyphenations and balance in the paragraphs. Every time we made a slight change in the weight or size of the font, Marion and I made a test print and pinned it to the wall to make sure it was right. It was interesting to be part of this remarkable photographer’s exhibition and work with the team behind him who curated this event.
Overall, I’ve spent an enriching first month working as an intern at Artworklove. Clearly being a good design student at university and being an efficient design intern in a professional environment are two different things. In addition to being a good practitioner, it is essential to embrace the fast pace, the amount of team work and the challenge of meeting the client’s needs. I’m looking forward to the next two months and to becoming more pro-active in the team of Artworklove.
Mushroom man Charlie Boyden shares his innovative self promotional project to help secure him an equally innovative placement as part of his DPS journey.
Mycelium: The vegetative part of a fungus, consisting of a network of fine white filaments (hyphae).
Over the past two years I have been increasingly interested in materials, in particular the up cycling and repurposing of found materials or objects. Having recently started the Diploma in Professional Studies I had spare time for experimenting and working on projects I had dreamt about for a while, so that’s when I ordered the Mycelium.
My plan was simple, or maybe not so. Make a lunch box out of mycelium, but instead of stopping the growth process of the mycelium by subjecting it to high temperatures like instructed, I would allow mushroom spores to form over the box. These would then be trimmed off and set aside. The lunch box would then be exposed to high temperatures, triggering the end of any further fungus. After being heated I would fill the lunch box with it’s mushrooms, adding a package of risotto rice and instructions. This together would make a fully biodegradable Fungus for Lunch Box with a MYrisotto (make yourself) kit within.
This lunch box would then be hand delivered to a few studios or people, in The Netherlands, that also work with the material or who are pushing creativity within product and furniture design through the exploration of materials like mycelium.
Mycelium is overpriced and undervalued. Not enough people are producing the material in order to lower costs and not enough big brands are taking the leap to use it. There is one large producer and seller of mycelium packaging and Mycelium GIY (grow it yourself) Kits in America, a company called Ecovative. They recently formed a collaborative company with designer and mycelium explorer Eric Klarenbeek, where together they are bringing the material into Europe easier and cheaper for designers and consumers like myself.
There is a huge market for mycelium, it has the possibility to be the material of the future but not enough people are seeing it true potential. For this to happen I am becoming a part of the growing community of designers and artists who are attempting to push the material into the public eye. You could probably say that in creating Fungus for Lunch it has taken the form of a self promotion project, which it has, but I see it as a stepping stone to a bigger platform and area for experimentation.
Throughout this exploration I learnt a few things, one being the knowledge that mycelium is fragile. You have to be so careful not to infect the mix with bacteria, yeast or moulds otherwise it could risk the material failing to act the proper way. Another is temperature. I lost many days of growing time due to the room not being hot enough for the mycelium to grow in. The best temperature is 23 degrees and so to achieve this heat I built a wooden rack, within which I placed the mycelium ad covered with an electric blanket. These are both things that I have learnt from and will change in future explorations.
Right now I’m waiting for the final stages of the mycelium growth. They should in fact be ready to leave the moulds tonight and will be left to grow the spores over the coming days, with myelin to go to Amsterdam at the end of this week.'
Tom Medlicott racked up a serious number of internship applications before settling in with Brompton Bikes as part of his DPS year. Here he reflects on his experiences so far.
After 126 job applications to 44 cities in 19 countries, 52 rejections, 8 interviews, 5 offers and 1 unsuccessful meeting with a design hero of mine, I had already learned huge amounts about the design industry before even setting foot anywhere near an agency. This was as disheartening as 52 rejections sounds although a number of designers and agencies took time to substantiate their feedback. Amidst a sea of non-repliers and impersonal copy + paste responses this was something I could only look upon positively and the portfolio I started this process with is a very different piece of work to the one I use now.
The old saying of who you know, not what rang true as after 2 chance conversations with friends I had not seen in years I was in a job within 2 weeks. I initially picked up work as a freelancer at Brompton Bicycle, it was well paid but my preconceptions about the product weren’t good owing to what I viewed as its typical middle aged city financier client base. As I was still being pulled through application after application elsewhere something fairly ad hoc suited me well. On reflection though the opportunity to work in the design & marketing office attached to the factory has been a fascinating insight into how design progresses from industrial product design through manufacture and eventually marketing and advertising.
I have continued in a role somewhere between intern, freelancer and junior employee. I am now in 2/3 days a week and the 1hr10 commute to the office near Heathrow is a definite noticeable change. Brompton relies on freelance designers for the marketing as there is no in-house graphics team so to speak of. This meant I was undertaking serious (albeit small) commercial tasks working within a reasonably strict set of brand guidelines from the start. At first this was disconcerting but as I grew into the company over time I was more and more entrusted with creative freedoms and diverse tasks to perform - from posters in Dutch spotted around Amsterdam, to merchandise for the factory, to marketing assets for corporate events. The team are young and constructive in their feedback - my work is well received and to see it go out into places like London, Hong Kong, Holland and Germany is hugely gratifying.
In an ideal world I would be afforded the opportunity to see more of the design production process, sit in on brainstorming meetings, liaise with printers and experiment in wider mediums - however I am benefiting from working independently learning how to structure my time, prioritise jobs and even things I had not given much prior consideration to such as how to write and invoice. Though I have no set end date the pay is good enough that it allows me to set aside funds for the next stage of my industry year. I have been accepted into a small startup in Berlin from February and will be working with an in-house design team called RCKT. I am looking forward to a new set of challenges as well as the opportunity to live and work in Europe whilst that is still a option that is open to me.
DPS student Stephanie Fung on how to tackle interviews.
After applying to hundreds of companies, I’ve managed to meet lots of organisations in the creative industries. (Merchant Cantos, Substance, Apple, Peter Anderson Studio, Earth TV, Nike and the Mill and one freelance opportunity) Some I was really prepared for and other not so much, but I have come to learn that it’s always good to be over prepared for an interview – whether that’s having business cards at the ready or reading past the 2nd page on Google about the company.
The most challenging interview was with Nike. It was a digital interview where I had to record myself and answer the questions. You would think hiding behind a screen would be more comforting but I realised that I respond better when I have someone to talk to in person. I felt very awkward and had some pauses when all I could see was myself on a screen. The same thing happened with Substance, where I had a skype voice call interview and I couldn’t see the other person’s facial expression which felt a bit jarring.
One of my most positive experiences was probably with The Mill. (I was probably the most nervous about this since it’s one of my dream companies) The interviewers were down to earth and they gave me time to talk and ask questions. I researched and prepared all the questions I thought they would ask me the night before but in the end they only asked about 3-4 questions to see what type of person I am. Earth TV was also relaxed, perhaps sometimes we forget that creative directors and the interviewers are human and can be down to earth too.
What also helped was that they had a dog in their office, which I think all offices should have.
I've realised that most of the time, if you have an interview then the interviewer is already impressed by your work - so use the interview to show off your personality, skills and interest to join the company. Moreover I made sure that I ask many questions at the end of the interview since an interview is a 2 way conversation.
Here's some that may be helpful for your interview:
What does typical day look like for an intern?
Gives you an idea of what your role would be.
What do you expect in an intern?
Gives an idea of what level they expect of an intern.
What are your views of the company?
Gives an better idea of the company atmosphere and people are like.
Is this position paid and how much?
Don't be afraid to ask, you deserve to be paid for doing work.
Am I able to use your facilities to do my own projects outside working hours?
If you want to do extra projects alongside your internship, work may have programs or machines for you to use.
When will I hear back from you?
Sometimes people forget to ask.
Most importantly - don't forget to send a follow up email the day after you had your interview. It's polite and also sets you apart from people don't do it.
DPS student Annete Sreibere asks ‘how to..?’ in her reflection on love, passion, interviews and working for free.
“How to use graphic design to sell things, explain things, make things look better, make people laugh, make people cry, and (every once in a while) change the world” is a book by Michael Bierut and my latest reading material. “How to” showcases thirty-five of Bierut’s projects and describes the story, process and thoughts behind them.
Any of the chapters for me as a design students are extremely interesting. To see how these projects have come together and especially what are Bierut’s thoughts on different problems that designers face every day. One of the chapters/sections tells about Bierut’s work for Parallax Theatre - How to work for free. Beirut tells story about his school friend Victor D’Altorio. Victor wanted to follow a career as an actor and Michael started out as a designer. Michael did posters for all the plays that Victor was in or later would direct. He did all the posters for free. Beirut writes:
“First, the work was fun. Victor would explain what the play was about in two sentences, and would send me the text that had to go on the poster. The explanation was always vivid and inspiring, and the text was always complete and free of typographical errors.
Second, after receiving my design, Victor would permit himself a single question: ‘How can I thank you?”
Finally, he never promised me exposure to movie stars on opening night or high-paying jobs down the road. I think as an actor, he understood what so many clients don’t: that for a creative person the real award is to simply do the work. Getting a “Hey, Mike?” call from Victor meant I’d have one more chance to do my best.”
Reading this paragraph was like a little reminder of why I am here and why I study and that this is what I love to do. Just to point out, of course not everything you do should be for free. But I think free work gives you complete freedom to do whatever you can possibly think of. The financial responsibility that you are getting paid doesn’t exist there. And if it works out and your work ends up on the wall, even better.
If I were to write one of the chapters now, it would most likely be called “How to smash an interview”. It would be a story about me being so stressed out that I think I will stop breathing but then finding out that everyone is very nice and I didn’t have to worry so much. Interviews will always be difficult - what they want to see in my portfolio? Should I start with typography or should I start with photography? Should I talk a lot? Should I shut up? Am I dressed appropriately? Do I have enough in my portfolio or maybe is it too much? Am I happy and enthusiastic enough or am I too annoying already?! The thing is, it is difficult, but what I have been reminding myself is that I am a student and they know it. For now, I’m sticking with a decent amount of enthusiasm and well-presented and organized portfolio.
Benedita Souto wastes no time during her DPS year and has sent an insightful review of the Tactical Tech’s Glass Room pop up exhibition.
During my DPS year, I have tried to attend as many different exhibitions and cultural events as I can. One of the best ones I’ve attended so far was the Glass Room, in Charing Cross Road. Half a pop-up exhibition, half a sleek, Apple inspired technology store, the Glass Room was built as an answer to ‘What is Personal data in an age where data is everything but personal?’
Walking down Charing Cross Road many will confuse this new pop-up space with a sleek new store, complete with fully white surfaces and bright lighting. Walking in, however, you quickly realise that’s not quite what the Glass Room is about. Set into four different exhibition sections, it looks into the ways technology is affecting our lives and exactly how our data is being used and distributed. Their main challenge was to translate sometimes complex numbers and ideas into easily understandable ways, especially in the ‘We Know You’ section which focus on translating the impact and influence that GAFAM (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft) actually have in our lives. This includes delving into what these companies actually own and how far their influence stretches, which is done through a sculpture piece that uses different coloured lines to connect all the different connections these companies have in what ends up being a complex tapestry.
But there’s more to been seen at the GlassRoom. The other three sections: ‘Something to Hide’, ‘Big Mother’ and ‘Open the Box’ explore subjects from exactly how much of our personal data is shared online and how it is used and sometimes abused to what data we might be sharing without even realising it. The exhibition is especially interesting because of the way it is set up like a technology store, exposing these complex and morally grey issues on small tables and trying to make them as understandable as possible but also never drawing conclusions on wether something is good or bad, right or wrong, instead letting the viewers think for themselves and create their own ideas and opinions on these issues.
What makes the exhibition so successful as well is the way it is set up in an almost familiar set-up. As we browse through these different exhibition pieces we could just as easily be browsing through the newest laptop or smartphone section at any store, which creates a striking yet almost ironical connection between the two. Not only that, but the Glass Room also offers a ‘Data Detox Bar’ where all the concepts presented in the exhibition are put into action by allowing visitors to explore their digital footprint or even to take home a Data Detox Kit, a programme set in eight steps to help you lead a more healthy digital life.
I was impressed with the way this exhibition managed to tackle complex issues related to technology and our personal data and lives without making it sounds condemning or chastising or even without going so far as to sound almost radical. Instead the approach it takes is, as the name reflects, to try and make all this information as transparent as possible so that each person has to decide what to make of it by themselves, an approach I think is the best to take towards this very divisive issue.
Tabriaz Waheed our DPS Cinema 4D wizard talks about his experiences broadening his motion graphics experience.
My main goal for my DPS was to explore different area of motion graphics. I was struggling to find a placement at the start. My first placement was at Penguin Books and my role was to help out with the book fair in Frankfurt by sticking spreads in dummy pages. It was good experience to see how publishing and the process work and the creative art director was very interested in my CGI and Cinema 4D work. It was great getting the creative art director’s feedback and my manager wanted to talk more about my CGI work and possibly give me freelance work for experience once I have develop my ability more.
After my internship was finished I went to OFFF London, where all the biggest motion graphics companies around the world showcase their work and processes. One of highlight of the event was Future Deluxe, a dream studio of mine, shared their show reel. I had my mind blown by visual storytelling and techniques. When meeting the team it was incredible experience; getting advice and hearing their input on how the digital world is changing.
Another highlight of the event was Territory Studio. They showed projects and mainly focused on blockbuster movies for example Marvel, Aliens and Ready Player One. They showed their process of creating most of their CGI work and used Ghost in the Shell as an example. I was super inspired to push my motion graphics skills to be the best.
I am currently working with Luke Halls Studio which was one of the dream studios ticked off from my list. I was extremely happy to learn and participate with different projects for example Louis Vuitton, MTV, X Factor and a big theatre project . My role at Luke Halls Studio is Junior Animator in Cinema 4D and After Effects. I am to assist with Senior Designer and help out.
Overall I am loving working at Luke Halls Studios learning new techniques, growing my network and learning new programs such as Maya, Houdini and Blender.
Nature is trying very hard to make us succeed, but nature does not depend on us. We are not the only experiment.
R. Buckminster Fuller
London covers more than 1,500 square kilometres, an area about the size of Surrey or South Yorkshire. More than 13,000 species, including humans, inhabit 3,000 parks, 30,000 allotments, three million gardens and two National Nature Reserves. Overall, 47% of London is green space, and 60% is classified as open space. Through a series of eco-social design interventions S*PARK seeks to challenge perspectives on how we see, inhabit and interact within a city environment and asks us to think ‘feral’ as we imagine a wilder London.
By rethinking the distinction between people, nature, cities and their symbiotic relationship, S*PARK proposes a new way of navigating landscape by focusing on the rapid change affecting Elephant & Castle. Home to London’s largest new green space in 70 years, S*PARK has created a series of activations and participatory public interventions in Elephant Park, explored and documented in this exhibition as part of the London Design Festival.
With experiment in mind, LCC alumni Jack Warne was commissioned to test synesthetic experience in two London locations: the urban, concrete Battersea Power Station site and rural Hyde Park. These sound drawings turned into 3D maps with analogue/digital generative synthesis reveal that being in a more natural environment influences human experience.
This evening sees the opening of Uncertainty Playground at London College of Communication, as part of the London Design Festival.
We are always challenging our Diploma in Professional Studies cohort to embed themselves in the real debates and contexts that surround a design practice. S*PARK is a exploration of how design can effect and reimagine the human relationship with nature and the urban environment and features work from DPS students and staff. S*PARK explores eco-social futures and imagination through community and collaborative research practices that highlight the value of a green environment in urban life and the role that education can play in a fast changing local landscape.
Design has an increasingly important role to play in material, social and economic change. This exhibition and series of events explores the emerging role of practice-based design research in proposing and imagining futures.
S*PARK presents design research, lead by DPS Course Director Sarah Temple, in a series of public and collaborative design interventions and activities, both in LCC and the green spaces of Elephant and Castle. This initiative uses sensory, human-centred design practices and proposes environmentally-sustainable and socially-responsive approaches that enrich human experiences. This exhibition and surrounding events will contribute to the work of Conscientious Communicators Research Hub which is a cross-disciplinary community established to develop practice-based research around environmental and social creativity.
16th September — 20th October
London College of Communication
A full listing of the exhibition and events can be found here.
Sarah Butler, BA (Hons) Illustration & Visual Media and DPS student on getting over getting rejected.
Embarking on what has seemed like a stint of brutal exhibitionism has proved tough over the last few months. Since early June I have found myself at the epicenter of application turmoil, engaged in a draining and nearly entirely one-way correspondence in the hopes of securing a placement. Intern prospects first appearing dense with opportunity have each slowly fallen away to apologetic offerings of “it’s just not the right time” — that is, if a response is given at all. The process has been grueling, however, DPS has already taught me more about design than the entire second year of my degree. Although not quite yet under the wing of creative professionalism, the past months have embedded some pretty strong notions of perseverance, assertion, and self-support.
Chasing applications thrust a heavy responsibility into my own hands, myself now fully accountable for the way I take action. Naiveties towards securing design work were quickly stubbed, revealing the effort and awkwardness of trying to push your work — often to people so practiced in an utterly unbothered veneer. Simply by getting rejected (a lot), I learned to understand closed doors as just “not meant to be”, rather than a direct personal attack threatening to place me in a mental stupor for days on end. The beginning of Summer saw verbal or written rejections as entirely immobilising, however, my continual lack of success did, in fact, teach me some pretty vital lessons in resilience.
Instead of perceiving rejected works as unworthy, I learned to see them as simply just not the right fit (for a certain studio/entity). Rejection no longer tied directly to my self-worth as a designer, these missed opportunities could now motivate the growing and redevelopment of my practice. Questioning why I was applying to certain places helped make me realise my fall down; yes these places aligned with my career objectives, however, was I bringing their same production level to the table? Often not. Instead of punishing myself for a studio’s lack of interest, I would learn from their project approach, taking aspects I admired forward in my own work.
Thinking this way has helped lessen heavy waves of success related self-loathing, which previously would cripple any ounce of remaining creativity. The reaction to admit defeat, although a protective instinct, proves highly unhelpful and a pretty severe inconvenience when you’re trying to get stuff done. As someone who struggles with their mental wellbeing, I have found the importance of rest and self-support during the process to be crucial.
Building the courage to communicate directly with studios can prove emotionally draining, and by ensuring I ease up on self-inflicted pressure, I’m able to free up way more creative energy. Knowing which days to leave to online research and which to dedicate to phone calls has allowed me to cultivate a real confidence in correspondence. I’ve never felt more vulnerable as a designer, nor questioned my entire existence to this extent, but the past few months have really helped me thicken a (previously) pretty frail skin.
Current DPS student Ellie Bond reflects on her changing perspective of her place as an illustrator in the creative industries.
Advertising was always sold to us as a path we could follow from our degree in Illustration and Visual Media, but I’d only ever thought about the design side of it. The graphics, the branding, the final image creation. However, after applying to the Ogilvy experience because the application looked fun, I was offered a place on their annual work experience week.
Here I learnt about every area of advertising from Account management, to media buying (not for me), to the trans-creation department (definitely not for me). We then got hands on within each area as we planned our own pitch for next years NCS campaign. Starting out with strategy (the research), to creative (the ideas), then production (the prototypes). It was a great week and I learnt a lot about an industry that has previously been a mystery to me. I decided to look at getting more experience within strategy as I thought this is what I was most interested in.
I sent off a written application for BBH Homegrown, a grad scheme style programme that lasts 3 months. I got through to interview stage which I was really pleased with as I’d been unsuccessful with written applications previously. During the interview I spoke to two BBH employees, one of which told me they thought I’d be more suited to Creative. Having been told I’d not made it through the interview stage, I asked if I could come in for some work experience instead. During this week I had the opportunity to talk with more people within both strategy and creative. It gave me a much clearer view of both the roles and Creative definitely came out on top. What I realised is there is a crossover of research and problem solving. What had attracted me to the role of a strategist was also possible through being a Creative and my background and ideas were much more suited to the Creative role.
So what next? Unfortunately, I also discovered during my week at BBH that most agencies will only hire creatives as teams. This makes finding internships this year a lot harder, as most tend to build a book with their art director/copywriter and apply together. I therefore need to find a copywriter who is also on a year out, or wait until I’ve graduated to apply for internships. I do plan on contacting the advertising course at LCC to see if there are any copy writers in second year looking to build more pieces for their portfolio, possibly through a D&AD brief.
Until then though, I am reading books from the greats (Ogilvy, John Hegarty, etc) as well as books on the overall process (‘The Advertising Concept’ book being the highest recommendation from my week at BBH). I might throw a few episodes of Mad Men in there just for good measure.