By Kezia Hessam, Design for Art Direction
Walking down the route of 'newbie' in the professional world of work and gaining recognition is no easy feat. It goes without saying that trying to claim the title of 'Art Director', without having even graduated university, is undeniably improbable. I started to wonder to myself when making my portfolio, what role can I use to describe me? Art direction, in itself, is probably one of the most diverse courses at LCC. As students, we're allowed the freedom to involve ourselves in any medium. For this reason I had to ask, is this a gift or a curse? Of course I can experiment in every way with the endless possibilities given to me, but at the very end I still don't know what my visual identity is.
August 20th 2018, I get my one and only callback. The magazine company Cent wanted to interview me the following day. Obviously nervous for my first ever interview at an official company, I had my concerns that my past projects wouldn't be up to scratch, but nevertheless I proceeded with it and organised my portfolio, researching all I could about the company to seem well prepared and competent. On the day of the interview, keeping a composed expression, I was seen to. Jo Philips, the founder and creative director of Cent, took me under her arm without even one look at my portfolio. To my amazement, all she cared about was my personality.
October 1st 2018, I began my first internship at Cent magazine. Surprisingly, the atmosphere of the place was fairly relaxed with other interns in the office around me. The office was small but large with creativity. All of the people I now worked alongside were graduates from Oxford, University of Surrey and reassuringly, some from LCC. In fact every design intern, of which there were three, graduated from LCC. Being the only undergraduate intern was daunting at first, thinking I’d perhaps not have the necessary skills required for the internship. But I soon found myself blending in very well with everyone and found the work very familiar to what I already knew.
One of the LCC graduates I predominantly worked alongside studied spacial design and had a vast knowledge of Adobe Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator. I started to learn a lot from just watching him, and every now and then he learnt from watching me. Together, Jo has assigned us to choose colour palettes for their winter issue, design a logo for a PR company, organise the layout for a French/English magazine and work on the Cent website blog. Creatively, I feel I am contributing so much to the magazine, and I’ve only been there for a month. One very exciting moment was when we received free watches from ICE watch for our logo design work. The one I picked out was for men and I decided to give it to my boyfriend. Later on I realised that the watch cost £99 which was fairly unbelievable!
As days go by, the days grow shorter. And working from 10am-6pm makes it very difficult to feel productive outside of work. Not all of working is exciting, everyday there is constant repetition of laying out page after page of just one magazine. It’s enough the make a person go mad. But one day, there sparked a change. Jo asked me if I could illustrate, to which I said that I could. She then asked if I could do a Marc Jacobs illustration for their new line of lipsticks. My eyes widened at the opportunity and I willingly volunteered. The piece took me only an hour to make, so it wasn’t anything that I found particularly challenging. I wasn’t told what the piece would be used for and just assumed it was for our blog. But nevertheless I was just happy to be doing something else for a change. When Jo finally saw the finished work, she was very pleased with it and even showed it to everyone in the office (all of which liked it too).
A couple of days went by, following the same usual routine. As I was correcting the many chapters on InDesign, I came across one particular section titled ‘Marc Jacobs’. Upon viewing it, I was stunned when I saw my work on the front page! Not sure how or why they would even want my work in their magazine, when reviewing the chapter with Jo, I confessed my surprise at seeing it there. I half worried that she would say it was ‘only a draft visual’, but instead she said that the client absolutely loved it and decided to put it in the magazine. I was ecstatic, my face red with delight, and this was only heightened when Jo whispered ’should we put a cheeky credit in there?’ in which I then uttered a very coy ‘Yes please’.
Landing my first official mark in the industry (and being credited for it) was the biggest push I could receive in just the first month of my placement year. And since then Jo has requested I do more illustration work for other brands. I’ve realised that I not only have the skills needed for work like this, but I can actually make something worth while. My visual identity, I now feel, is one step closer…