DPS resident paint freak Matteo Salomoni fills us in on his internship with mural painters Paint Freaks.
As part of my Diploma in Professional Studies, I am completing an internship at Paint Freaks, a company specialized in the realization of murals on commission, with a strong emphasis on spray cans as a medium of choice.
Due to the nature of the company’s work, most of the art has to therefore be created on location within a given time period. My first experience with working in this situation took place within the first week of my internship, whereby I had to commute to Basingstoke to work in Flip Out, a trampoline park which is just opening. The job consisted in the application of black colour coats on the ceilings and walls of the site with spray guns and green for the central pillars. This experience taught me many things, from how to correctly operate and clean spray guns, healthy and safety precautions on site, as well as communication in group work to ensure everyone is fulfilling their responsibility to the fullest. I also had to complete a scissor and boom lift training for this specific job, which now allows me to operate these machines confidently, and will definitely be useful for any mural work at heights I might do in the future.
One of the elements I really enjoy about this internship is also the fact that some travel is required to reach sites, some of which not in the UK; this has given me the opportunity to see new places I’d never been to. My second job, for example, was in Copenhagen, at the X Jump Trampoline Park, and was perhaps one of the biggest jobs I have taken part in. It consisted in the projection and mapping of a pre-approved design onto the walls of the park, followed by the final stages of spraying. This experience as well was very useful because I learnt how to efficiently project designs to scale and mark them, which is one of the fundamental stages of mural work, as well as how the designs are re-created from the very beginning to the end.
I am now in the initial stages of designing my very own mural, which will be created on the shutters of Nana Susie’s Cafè in London. This would be one of the first experiences of this kind for me, and having learnt the basic notions to correctly project and mark, it should help me apply this in my own work. I believe this will be the most formative opportunity, as I am already learning how to correctly interact with the clients from the initial briefing stages, through the approval of the final design work.
In conclusion, I can say that this internship has proved to be a very fun, engaging and formative experience, and I am very excited for what is to come in the future. I am learning how the company itself operates as a business, briefing to a client, and many other elements of running a business which are just as important as the final artwork itself.
Julia Fontes Lessa is spending the first part of her DPS year in Berlin. Here she tells us about her experiences.
I always heard so much about Berlin, mostly about its party scene, but also about the thousands of creative opportunities. And it was not a lie. In one month I managed to find loads of stuff to do.
I’ve been working almost everyday with a freelance designer. I go to her studio apartment and we sit together and discuss my designs. She gives me freedom to do my own design while she does hers at the time. The first task she gave me was a Brazilian Forró festival poster. She showed me all of the requirements, the mood board she had done and asked me to create something from that. I had to do about 20 designs and she didn’t really like any of them. At first I was very frustrated, but when she sat with me and gave me detailed feedback I could see she wasn’t disappointed withe me or anything, she just genuinely wanted me to improve. The jobs after were way better. I think the harder part is getting her style right. In the end that is the biggest challenge of an internship, getting the style right.
I also didn’t stop there, I started doing a German course, and as always had in school, I doodled during class. That was enough for my course mates to see that I was a creative. A girl from the class introduced me to this conceptual caffe/clothing store that changed their window design every few months. I went there one day and they asked me to do their window! It was really fun. They wanted something water themed, because their new logo was a gold fish. Recently I’ve been drawing fishes and corals and all sort of sea inspired creatures, therefore it was perfect. I eded up doing some crazy corals and seaweed, making the shop a gigantic aquarium!
Even though designing is fun, no one will ever enjoy everything in their job. We have a couple of constant clients. One of them is a blogger that posts about recipes, furniture and flowers arrangements, that sort of thing. Every week I have to the blog posts of the week for her. There is also a beauty bloggers that works for Vogue Brazil. I also have to do her blog posts of her lifestyle. It not exactly a fun job, but doing it every week really helps me with my layout skills. Another constant client is these guys that organize techno parties. There are loads of parties happening at the moment, meaning a lot of posters to do. I mainly help her out with vectorizations and cutting of images. It is really helpful though, because I’ve been mastering Photoshop.
Recently I got a job from a music company and she does vinyl covers for them. So the latest project I’ve done was designing a vinyl cover for them. They are strongly connected to science and mythology. It’s all about the natural elements. So I had to create a design with the amethyst stone. My boss hasn’t given me a detailed feedback yet, but overall she liked it, which is a very different response from the first job I did.
Celeste Muethe discusses Self-Initiated projects and how to deal with free time during the first part of her DPS journey
When I was in foundation and filling applications for different Bachelors courses, I was, as I assume everyone is, pretty nervous about finding the course that would suit me best. My biggest fear was to end up in one that would give us open briefs and a very long time to work on them. I would say to all of my teachers that I had a hard time doing personal work if no one was watching or if we didn’t have a lot of guidelines on what to do. The reality is I had a hard time doing work for myself instead of for the teachers and the grades. I guess our school education is made to have us think that way. Starting DPS I was then anxious about the free time between internships and the big roles that self-initiated projects have in the year.
As I started the term I managed to get an internship really quickly, the only issue was it was starting mid-November. I struggled to find another internship that would last a month or two while finishing before the month of November. I realized that if I didn’t manage to secure one for the time being, I would have to work on something personal.
I decided to work on something that would make me learn new skills and fill my free time. I was going to improve my digital drawing abilities; this was my goal starting off. I also wanted to do something that would have a daily outcome. This way I was sure to work on it every day and make it a priority.
Visual magnitude is the outcome of this project. It is an Instagram account where I post digital portraits that I made daily. (@visual_magnitude) I started by making several portraits every day without posting anything. I figured that I should have a few of them ready for busy days. An aspect that I think was a good way to keep me going for a long period of time was the variety. Each portrait takes a couple of hours to do which means it doesn’t feel like working on the same thing for too long. It then makes it difficult to get discouraged and it is also very pleasing to have regular outcomes.
Using Instagram was a good way to showcase my work by allowing a wider audience to see it. I think the feedback from the viewers replace the feedback I was used to having in school. It feels rewarding and encouraged me to continue the project for longer than I intended to.
Having free time ended up being a lot less terrifying than I thought. It is a time we have to learn new skills and working on projects that I would have been unable to undertake in addition to uni work. It is also a time that you I use to start very different ventures at the same time.
For example, I have been very intrigued by virtual and augmented reality for a long time. I started to learn how to code so I could have a better shot at working with those techniques one day.
Starting by facing one of my fear, was a bold way to go but I think it was necessary.
Lauryn Raymond, our DPS student in New York describes her experiences.
When moving to another country it’s more than just getting to know another city it’s learning about the culture and building your network again from scratch. From friends to work colleges, I have just moved from London to New York to embark on a new adventure working at Vault 49. Moving to and working in a new place can be very alienating from the off set but you need to have a brave mentality to embrace this feeling, living and learning in a completely different environment. Moving from classroom to studio is different to what you would expect, the projects move faster…. and you have to deliver. As a student this is what you crave, we train, work day in and day out to be working on these projects and it’s about putting all of this to practice when in the studio.
When being an intern you have to throw yourself into everything; it is a bit like being an alien of sorts, you are experiencing everything for the first time…. you are learning new things all the time and this can be all forms of exciting and exhausting…but mostly exciting. It’s inspiring to be around people that all want to work and do an amazing job, this can have a real impact on your mentality as a person as well as a designer.
I really want to get the most out for my time here in New York with the people I am surround by… I decided to say yes to everything (within reason) so when Daniel’s Music came to give a talk at my work I wanted to take an opportunity to give back while I am in New York. Daniel’s Music is a foundation set up by Daniel himself and his father; it is a foundation that provides music classes and opportunities for people with disabilities. I was lucking enough to be able to volunteer. It was a really eye opening experience, seeing how people with disabilities respond to music. I have contacted the foundation and am looking to create some album art for them in the coming weeks.
John and Jonathan started Vault 49 and both attended UAL which is really inspiring as a young designer that intends to have their own company one day. Seeing a company such as vault 49 that has such a diverse and different approach to design is really refreshing. When at Vault 49 you are surrounded by people that are extremely talented but are also the most down to earth people that want to help you learn and grow. Vault 49 have their own screen-printing facility which is rare to have in a working design studio, I have been able to help do some printing while I have been here, being able to work on big brands as well as having the facilities to keep craft at the heart of the agency.
Dominika Gemra, a current DPS student, shares some excellent insights into landing that first creative placement.
After long and fruitful preparation sessions in the last term of 2 year I thought I was prepared for the year to come. Couldn’t be further from the truth. The real work started for me in the summer preparing my portfolio, building my online presence and searching for internships. To manage the applications I created an excel spreadsheet with all the relevant data. I tried to learn from every application sent, but it become extremely hard due to the fact that creative industry can be really unorganised. I wasn’t receiving any replies from most of the companies. Searching for offers themselves was hard since 90% of them was missing vital information like whether the internship was paid / when is it going to be / what length etc. I even received one response saying they don’t do any internships even though my application was sent directly in response to an add that was posted online.
For every designer entering the industry will look different. However, there are certain things we all face / will face. Couple of things that really annoy me about our industry and couple of tips to handle that mess:
1 // You
If you don’t know who you are no one will. Have those bespoke business cards ready along with your up to date website.
Essentials: Website, Linkedin, Instagram, Twitter, The dots. Additional: professional Facebook page, blog, Behance etc.
2 // Before you start
Probably you all heard that dozen times: research the industry. Identify the companies you would like to intern for. Who are they and what are they all about along with contact to them (always try to find email to actual person rather then firstname.lastname@example.org). Take your time with that – there is nothing harder than to reapply to the same company over and over because you’ve sent mediocre application at the beginning rushing with it.
3 // Organisation
Ok, so the industry is extremely unorganised – it doesn’t mean that you have to be too. Create an excel with all your applications.
My collumns: Where (London/USA etc.), What (studio/editorial/festival etc.), Firm (Name of the company), £ (what pay), Length (how long is the internship for), When (start and end date), WWW (link to their website), Contact (mail to the person you sent the application), Status (sent), Date (date you’ve sent it), Cover letter (done/working on it), Portfolio (done/working on it), Follow up (date of the follow up email/call), Interview (date of the interview), Outcome (unsuccessful/successful/non available atm).
Furthermore, have a system: finding the internship > research and preparing cover letter and portfolio > follow up (after 2 weeks?) > interview > getting feedback
4 // Search
We all have a long list of places to look for internship – use them. Sign up for newsletters that will really annoy you, sign up for updates. Write to the company for more information that is not included on the add (never be afraid to ask). It happened to me twice that I was almost at the final stage of the application and then heard “Oh but btw it is an unpaid opportunity, hope you are ok with that?”. Am I ok with that? Hell no. Not paying your interns is inhuman and disrespectful. Looking deeper into the subject I found that Young Creative Council issued a Placement Poverty Pledge. Signed by many companies it promises to pay the interns the current Living Wage (at least £9.75 per hour in London and £8.45 across the UK). I was delighted to see the problem has been seen and addressed by the industry. Yet still much is to be done. For it to work we need spotlight (share the PPP across all social platforms) and unity (we don’t accept – they don’t offer).
5 // Making you
Make them remember you (but be honest – don’t pretend). To leave something more after the interview than just a business card I designed a little follow up print.
6 // Be resilient
Don’t let nothing bring you down. Always search for more ways to get out there. If you are filling stuck go outside, see an exhibition (Basquiat at Barbican – on till January – amazing and a definite must-see), go running, visit a random city but above all experience – this is what this year is all about. Besides, nothing good ever happens from sitting on your ass.
Last but not least, I got an internship at VML London (completely in love) and will write about my experience in the next post.
DPS student Alex Robertson asks ‘Why Not?’ while he keeps questioning and reflects on the highs and lows of securing creative placements.
A framed sample print which will be part of the exhibition starting from the 10th of December.
It became clear quickly nothing is handed to you on a plate. Creative internships aren’t the easiest thing to come across, it takes a lot of hard work, perseverance and positivity. You have to prove yourself or know someone to secure something. For me the realisation didn’t kick in until around October. During the summer break I went through the process of applying for the 6 month internship with Apple, I was adamant I had performed well in the interview and I was the perfect candidate for the role. 3 weeks later I received the news that I hadn’t been selected, I faced my first experience of rejection. From then on, I spent every day working from home. Sending emails to agencies and applying to internship roles while adjusting my portfolio as I went on. It started to become clear that internships aren’t the easiest thing to come across, you have to deal with a lot of rejection. It takes hard work, perseverance and positivity. I kept a spreadsheet to keep track of the places I had applied to, when & who I sent them an e-mail and where they are based. After applying to precisely 43 places, I had a phone call interview followed by a formal interview for a graphic design internship for a media company called Mindshare which is in the same building as Google. The interview lasted 2 hours, which was spent just chatting to the head of creative about the internship and my portfolio. I had a really good feeling afterwards but low and behold, the following week I receive the news that they had decided to choose a graduate with more experience than myself. I was gutted, but continued to apply to as many places I could.
I had managed to get the contact information for an employee of Venture Three, Nick Sims. He invited me to come into the studio for a chat, but made it clear that the internship programme there was full for the next few months. I had nothing to loose so I went to the studio just off Kings Road. I met Nick and we went through my portfolio, he gave me some really positive feedback and advice as to how I could make my portfolio better through presentation and explained he is going to get in touch later on next year once they are looking for new interns.
He also put me in contact with a former college of his Drew Coughlan & co-worker Craig Matchett, they both work at Saffron just of Brick Lane. I managed to visit them at the end of October. However they were also in the same situation with no room for interns at the moment, we met and instantly clicked, I enjoyed talking to both of them and after seeing my portfolio they were really impressed. The told me they’ll get a date next year for me to Intern, which was good news and gave me a massive boost in confidence. A few days prior to going to Saffron I was given a similar opportunity to visit Rufus Lennoard and show my portfolio to senior designer Carlo D’Lanno for a possible internship for sometime next year. He had real enthusiasm about my work, but advised me to amend my portfolio to have more context towards the brief and the idea. So I did exactly that, and gave each project a small piece of text addressing the brief and the idea, this gave me more time to talk about the context of each project before showing the solution in an interview situation.
Following this, I went to an interview at Lifeworks in Battersea, I had a phone interview a few days before with a representative from their offices in the states which followed with a meeting with James, the creative director. Who was a really nice guy, we spoke about what I’d be doing on a day to day basis, I presented my portfolio and by the 4th project he decided he could see my abilities which I guess was a good sign as a few days later, I received an email explaining that he was impressed and the next steps will star very soon, so fingers crossed I will hear back this week.
Most recently and finally I had an interview with a freelance company Co-Start-up & Go which I found advised on the UAL jobs board. They are a freelance company which offer start ups creative services at a monthly rate. After meeting the founder in Holborn for the interview she offered me the job & I start on Monday. They employ 19 freelancers, offering flexibility so I can continue to intern at different places over the next year and choose the hours I want to do each week. I’m also working with a local Gallery Don’t Walk, Walk in Deal to create some risograph typographic posters. The concept I decided to use is the phrase ‘why not?’ Because Questioning is important, there is nothing to say you can’t, be positive and do it.
I have taken away a lot from this process; It’s taught me a lot about myself, how important it is to persevere and always try your best and don’t let any opportunities slip away. I’ve had a few interviews now and have found the more I do, the better I get. But even still it's important to remember even if you think it went well, don’t trust anyone, sometimes it’s not meant to be. So I’m ready to absorb, create and progress. Feeling happy and excited for the next few months.
Hugh Van de Lande shares his DPS experiences so far from graphic design, wayfinding to mural painting and more.
At the end of the final term of 2nd year I went straight into a months placement at a company called Holmes Wood in London, who are a leading design company specialising in wayfinding and graphic design, and have worked with large clients such as the V&A, Easy Jet, the Imperial War Museum and many others. I first made the connection with Holmes Wood in the Easter holidays earlier in the year where I spent a week doing some work experience in their office in Battersea, working on creating and developing tourist maps for a project they were working on. At this time they were just about to moving offices to a new location where they were joining an architectural company called Benoy.
The month in summer was really great to see how the company had changed and expanded from (about 12 people to about 20) and how with the change of location they went from a converted apartment office to a more corporate office space. The team is really great, the atmosphere is so friendly and more like a Holmes Wood family than a strict office which is nice, I think the two directors of the company being women I think impacts this nicely.
During the month, I designed a new website for one of their projects which was really well received and pitched to the client. I also worked on kerning some room numbers for a large set of 3 apartment buildings, which I created and were then sent off into production during my time there. It was so satisfying and exciting as the work I was doing for them was all actually being used.
After my month placement there I worked on a fantastic project with sign painter Corrin Kennington. With him I helped paint a ‘RAISE HELLS’ mural he had designed (referring to their main lager) for the new Camden Town Brewery in Enfield which was set to open later that September. This was fantastic and I really enjoyed working with Corin and learning more about sign painting. Usually he uses 1shot paint which is what I am used to using but as the mural was on corrugated steel behind the bar we had to use normal Dulux wall paint and had to overcome a number of challenges he does not usually have with projects due to the tricky surface we were faced with. Corin seemed keen to work on something else later in my DPS year where we can work on another full project and collaborate together which I really look forward to do with him soon.
Holmes Wood later offered me to return for a 3rd time after my summer placement and am now there for a 3 months paid internship until Christmas, working on many more exciting projects and a studio which I am really enjoying being a part of and am really feeling like a valued member of their team.
During my DPS time so far, I have also had a number of freelance projects going and have received more to begin working on soon. These mostly are logo design projects which I am treating everyone professionally, forcing myself to present ideas via proper presentations to keep in practice and putting to use many thinks I have learned so far.
Adam Warren reflects on the idea of surveillance as part of a personal investigation during his DPS year.
Surveillance (within the context of academic theory) is something that I’ve found increasingly more interesting since originally studying it as part of my CTS last year.
One could say that the study of this topic begins with the ‘Haussmanisation’ of Paris – an architectural feat engrained with concepts of surveillance. The changes to Paris in the late 1800s consisted of three large avenues built through the condensed slums of the city in the attempt to create a clearer point of view for patrolling policemen (this also allowed the military to access certain points of the city more efficiently). The logic behind this being that it would lead to a degree of self-regulating society and thus, reduce crime.
This idea ties up nicely with the ‘Panopticism’, a concept coined and first written about by Jeremy Bentham. He believed that you could encourage a self-modifying behaviour within prisons thanks to an architectural design as opposed to physical torture and pain. The hypothetical design of the building is a circular prison-cell structure with a large watch tower and courtyard in the centre through which guards can see prisoners, but prisoners cannot see them. The idea behind this is that once prisoners are aware (or unaware) of whether they are being watched, their behaviour and cooperation will automatically improve. Whether or not this design is effective or morally sound is a point of discussion, but the concept itself is extremely relevant in the context of ‘surveillance’. Panopticism has been written about by many philosophers and psychologists since Bentham’s first ideas, including Michel Foucault. He went on to say that the ideas behind Panopticism could potentially be applicable ‘in hospitals, workshops, schools’, etc.
It’s interesting to try and find structures in contemporary life that reflect these ideas of being watched or watching someone: CCTV is the perfect example of modern-day panopticism. Increasingly, we’re living in a society whereby nearly all our movements can be traced. Whether that’s thanks to our travel cards, payments, CCTV footage or even our own social media which tend to act as an individual’s self-documentation of movements. A paper on the main surveillance theories and concepts by Tjerk Timan of the Tilburg University in Holland excellently describes this recent shift. ‘Surveillance Capitalism’ is the change of intention from an organisation or government using surveillance as a means to discipline, to using it as a way of controlling society – the aim being to modify human behaviour as a means to produce revenue, e.g. tailored advertising.
I’d like to incorporate my interest in surveillance studies into my practice, somehow. I noticed recently that the language used behind CCTV signage often tries to imply that the existence of surveillance cameras is solely for the benefit of the citizen. My aim is to create a small publication that visually researches this language with a short essay acting as a foreword, contextualising the imagery.