THE PROCESS ISSUE
04 // Q&A: My Creative Process 06 // Studio Tour: Otherway 12 // 10 Incredible Apps by John Fry
14 // Opinion: Don't Get It Perfect, Get It Going 18 // Portfolio Spotlight: Lauren Basser 24 // Graduate Feature: Ben Pirotte
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THE PROCESS ISSUE Cover Artwork // Shanti Sparrow
When we recently welcomed design legend Bob Gill to our New York campus, he brilliantly declared: "designing is so easy if you start the right way.” At Shillington, we believe creative process is everything. Our students create beautifully polished portfolios, and it's all backed up by a solid foundation in design theory and concept development. At all six of our campuses, students develop their own unique creative process—integrating idea generation, technical knowledge, design theory and studio skills each step of the way. We work hard to avoid basic tutorials and pixel-pushing. Instead, students put pen to paper, work collaboratively, get outside their comfort zone, test and learn. For this fourth issue of the Post, we're diving into the importance of creative process. Enjoy a studio tour of Otherway, an innovative London studio that's hired three of our all-star graduates. Seven of our teachers reflect on a time when process led them to an unexpected design outcome. John Fry shares ten digital products to enhance your day-to-day productivity. Take a close look at Lauren Basser's Shillington portfolio and methodical creative process. And nod along with Brenton Craig's rant on our industry's obsession with perfection. Happy reading! Andy Shillington CEO of Shillington
MY CREATIVE PROCESS For this issue, we asked our Shillington teachers to share a time when their creative process led to a fresh discovery and an unexpected design outcome.
BECCY HULME FULL-TIME TEACHER, NEW YORK I once designed an Indian cookbook called Spice Kitchen. This was a brief where process steered me completely clear of what I first thought Indian cookbooks should look like. Indian food can be pretty synonymous with dimly lit, ornate restaurants and overly decorative plates. Rather than confining myself to convention I decided to focus on India's gigantic coastline which provided me with a new take on the design. The coastline area features very fresh, light and delicious street food—much of which was included in the recipe book I was designing. As I researched further, my findings were fairly contrary to my first expectations—I hadn’t necessarily thought of Indian food as coastal. So instead of focusing on the already established associations of mysterious and exotic patterns, I decided to explore the idea of space, kind of like an expansive coastline. I created a brief for the food photographer, and asked her not to photograph the food, but to photograph the space in between the food. I spent time working on layouts that championed white space, and ended up using bright, light, beachy colours that referenced the environment. We used handwritten headings, and textured patterns to evoke the salt-decayed charm of a seaside town. By trusting the process, the outcome I ended up achieving looked far more interesting and unexpected than I first thought.
GEORGE SIMKIN PART-TIME TEACHER, LONDON
JEN YANI PART-TIME TEACHER, SYDNEY I always find the research stage to be very interesting, especially when I’m working on a project that I have no knowledge of the subject or cultural background. For example, when I worked on Mameloshn—an exhibition regarding "How Yiddish made a home in Melbourne” held at the Jewish Museum of Australia. Before embarking on this project, I was quite naive and had very little knowledge of the Jewish culture but through the design process I discovered more about the culture, the Yiddish language and how such a rich history impacted and shaped the Melbourne landscape.
It's always at the research stage when I make an unexpected discovery, which can then lead to very different outcomes compared to my initial thought. I once designed an editorial spread about cycling in Syria. Initially I thought the spread would be really gritty and rough looking. However, after researching the actual bikes, they all have a double bar that runs across the bike—so, through some sketches and idea generation I ran with the double bar element. The eventual spread was clean and the headline type had a double line feature, echoing the bike structure. The spread became all about the beauty and structure of the bikes in chaotic Syria, really not what I was expecting before I started this project!
WAYNE SMITH FULL-TIME TEACHER, MELBOURNE DAIN GORDON FULL-TIME TEACHER, NEW YORK Branding New York Ophthalmology was the first project where I was able to hone my creative process. Being self-taught, I previously would jump straight into designing but because I had no prior knowledge of the medical field, I was forced to approach this project differently. I discovered the value of research and idea generation, and how crucial they are to bringing greater utility to a design.
LOU MORA PART-TIME TEACHER, MANCHESTER This is perhaps a more broad interpretation, but I think it's always important to remember that you never know where your design may take you. There have been several occasions when I have been working on a seemingly small job or a freebie and it has turned out that later down the line, that was the job that turned into my biggest client or caught the eye of a new one. Approach every job with enthusiasm and passion as you never know where it may take you.
“It's important to remember that you never know where your design may take you."
When I worked at Cornwell Studio, Melbourne Prize was a job that they did every year as a pro-bono. I was so happy when I got the opportunity to work on it as I knew that these freebie jobs often came with more creative freedom. The first thing I did was look back at the designs from previous years— in particular the Literature prizes (Melbourne Prize alternates its subject each year between music, urban sculpture and literature). A pattern began to emerge—every solution utilised expressive typography in one form or another. This wasn’t really surprising given that the subject was literature. How do you express the idea of literature without using words? It was this question that drove my approach for the project. I was determined to break the mould and do something different. I researched languages, hieroglyphics, speech and sound and explored the roots of literature, tracing the concept back to the ancient art of storytelling. My final outcome was a series of three strong graphic symbols that represented the idea of storytelling. It celebrated the sound of literature rather than the physical manifestation— which I guess would be words. The best part was that with such a substantial amount of background research and a strong rationale, the client fell in love with the design as much I did!
STUDIO TOUR // Otherway
INTERVIEW BY ALI NEILLY // PHOTOGRAPHY BY SIMON BRAY AND OTHERWAY
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STUDIO TOUR // Otherway
OTHERWAY What do brand communications studio Otherway and Shillington have in common? James Douthwaite, Jeff Huynh and Elle Mourdjis, that's what. After studying full-time at Shillington London they joined the team at Otherway where they now work as designers. We caught up with the graduates to see how they're getting on in their new careers and find out a little more about Otherway. Read about Otherway's philosophy of investing in ideas, why variety in the daily routine is the spice of life, and how the entrepreneurial nature of the company inspires ambition.
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STUDIO TOUR // Otherway
"Variety is the spice of life, and day-to-day we succeed in producing so many amazing things."
London has such an exhilarating design scene. How does it feel working right in the middle of Piccadilly Circus? Elle: It’s quite surreal stepping out of the studio and seeing Piccadilly Circus! I do feel in the thick of it, and it gives me inspiration walking around and seeing the design and advertising work that is everywhere in London—especially clients we create work with. Jeff: Just walking out from the station to Otherway HQ, you do get a real sense of buzz. It’s a very visually stimulating place. Depending on the project though, sometimes it’s better to get your head down, headphones on and forget all of the commotion at your doorstep. Take us through a typical day working as a designer. Elle: In the studio there are iterations of various projects hanging on the walls and music playing, each day is very varied and full of creative problem solving tasks. Currently I am designing for PizzaExpress, including bouncebacks, bill cards, and helping create the illustration on the menu front cover. It starts with the account manager relaying the most important job and planning your time. I sketch out a few ideas and try as quickly as possible to translate these onto the screen as rough scamps. These are critiqued by our designers and account managers, and are sent to the client. I’m usually jumping from project to project, depending on amends, and come back to bigger projects after client feedback. James: Well, typical day ... that’s kind of hard to describe. Answering questions like this makes me realise how much I enjoy the variety of my job. There is no real structure. One day you could be doing a social media post for a juice brand, next day you could be working on an illustration for a client’s window display. That’s the beauty of this company, or many others that could be like it. Variety is the spice of life, and day-to-day we succeed in producing so many amazing things that we have all worked on.
Fortnum & Mason or PizzaExpress. I am quite lucky that I get to work on such a broad spectrum of design at Otherway—it sure doesn’t get boring. Otherway studio works for some huge name clients and also has its own ventures such as 'Shore Projects'. Do you think it’s important for designers to work on their own personal work and has this side of Otherway inspired you to start any projects of your own? Elle: I love Otherway’s philosophy of investing in ideas; their work ethic and drive definitely inspires me! I believe it is important to work on side projects if they enrich your understanding and love of design. A recent personal project was for Southwark Council, they approached me after seeing my illustration work at the Shillington Graduate Exhibition. Their campaign is about highlighting the early warning signs of domestic abuse which people often miss. They took to my idea of having romantic scenes with the abuser in red, and I have completed a range of three illustrations. It’s a great feeling to work on a project that will hopefully help people overcome difficulties in their lives. The campaign has launched on social media channels and will hopefully be on the London Underground! James: Yes, Otherway create some really inspiring sidelines. Seeing the success of Shore Projects (the first thing I ever designed), it does give you a jolt of “I could do something this amazing”. If you ever do have the spare time, I’d say go for it! I believe it is important to make your dreams happen, whatever they are. Jeff: Depends on how much free time you realistically have! Having a balance is healthy. When you're not slammed with big deadlines, there’s nothing better than a side project to keep your creativity up. Otherway has sparked my enthusiasm to be entrepreneurial. Outside of work, I am taking online courses on how to develop websites and mobile apps, not only to gain a deeper understanding when designing but to also increase my potential for the future. Knowing both ends of the process can only be advantageous. The app market is booming and I'm excited to be part of it one day.
Jeff: If I’m honest, most days are completely different. Depending on the project, it can vary from designing websites for one of our start-up ventures, to conceptualising creative ideas for 8 // Shillington Post
STUDIO TOUR // Otherway
James and Jeff, you've both been with Otherway for quite a while now. Otherway always seems to be working on something new and inspiring, can you share any stand-out projects you've worked on? James: MOJU was definitely a special experience, being in the creative development and art directing from the beginning. As a company we helped capture what the client wanted. Built their brand from the ground up, working on bottle designs, business collateral, even a store on Old Street Underground. It was especially exciting when the product went to market and when we started to share it on social media under #StupidlyHealthy. A really rewarding job. Then there was Farer, a great Otherway internal venture. We worked together to create a watch brand aimed at a more premium market. I helped develop website designs, packaging and art directed some of the website photography. It’s hard not to enjoy it all coming together. I’ve also worked on the recent exciting stuff with PizzaExpress. We worked together to create the new Delivered range (PizzaExpress delivery) to design their packaging, bikes and all their uniforms. It was a great experience to work with such a big client and create something that gets used every day, making it look aspirational, yet approachable for the brand.
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Jeff: Most recently, I had the opportunity to work on the branding and launch of a new restaurant near Piccadilly Circus called 45 Jermyn St. This project was big. From the creation of the logotype and exploration of the core colour palette, to creating the wine and cocktail menus and designing the website, to finalising the exterior signage and multifaceted window vinyl display. The list was endless and expansive— I loved it! You always encounter surprises when rolling out brands, some unexpected, but some end up being just perfect. Elle, you secured a job at Otherway mere months after graduating. What has it been like making the transition from design student to designer? I had already experienced working in a design studio previously where I was a videographer for a year, however Otherway was the first place where I felt truly valued as a designer, and this made the transition easy and exciting. Everyone is really friendly, has a positive attitude and loves designing. It is the same atmosphere we had at Shillington; it is uplifting to be part of a group where everyone has the same passions as you do. It is also the first time designing has involved a high amount of team work; from both the designers and account managers. This is a shift in your design process; the collaboration of ideas and opinions help to create the design with you.
STUDIO TOUR // Otherway
Do you think studying at Shillington helped you secure your position at a studio like Otherway? Elle: Definitely. I looked back at the dates and it was six weeks between finishing Shillington and landing the first job, I didn’t realise it was so fast till now! This is the big difference between graduating from University and graduating from Shillington. After finishing my B.A. it was hard to land a job I really enjoyed. When I was applying for work after Shillington, I got freelance work in the first couple of weeks and several offers for jobs within the first couple of months! Shillington provided me with essential technical skills and a portfolio to show my creativity and potential. James: I really think that Shillington has helped me gain the appropriate skills to get to where I am, especially with the use of programs and general creative development. Jeff: Definitely. Good briefs and an industry relevant portfolio was key. I learnt all the program skills I needed in order to work in such a fastpaced environment. Where do you look for inspiration? Do you have any go-to sources or places when you need to fuel your imagination? Elle: It’s good to always look for inspiration, not just when you need to start a project. Something you saw two months ago can be relevant to a current creative problem. I like visiting museums, even exhibitions not specific to graphic design. For instance, Tibet’s Secret Temple at The Welcome Trust explores different structures of thought and Faith After the Pharaohs at The British Museum displays an evolution of artefacts. Seeing the illustrations and design from these different cultures is definitely inspiring. Along with this, I love studying typography on the streets; this has helped provide inspiration for a band's brand design I am completing. James: It can vary, project by project. Totally depends on the history or the routes the brand and client you're working with wants to go! When discussing with the MOJU team about their ideas, we wanted to create a cold pressed juice for the people. This then inspired us to start looking at 10 // Shillington Post
STUDIO TOUR // Otherway
old revolution era posters. Taking inspiration from library books, bookshops and old articles you find on the internet. Really opening our minds to new processes and different ways of thinking. Normally as design nerds we can jump straight to designspiration or Pinterest, but we shouldn’t default to these websites. We should be ever expanding our catalogue of inspiration from all types of media, books, photos and articles. Jeff: Other than the usual go-to design blogs, I find that inspiration should come from somewhere more specific. In my experience, the 'big idea' doesn't usually come whilst listening to music, but rather when you try to solve the problem at hand by putting some good ol’ thinking to it. While at Shillington you likely became used to working under pressure, but now that you’re in the workplace is there a particular method you have for dealing with dry spells of inspiration or stress? Elle: Inspiration is the whole process of designing, not just one spark. Therefore as long as you do research, sketch ideas, progress these to the computer, ask for advice, you will find inspiration along the way. Shillington is great at teaching this skill; the hard part is creating ideas fast. Stress is prevalent in our society as there is much pressure to work as quickly as possible, to ultimately increase profits. However, I find the more I get anxious about something, the worse work I produce. Therefore I lower my expectations—it is counterintuitive! The less pressure you put on yourself the more you can think freely, intuitively and therefore achieve beautiful designs. James: When I first started out, I was so excited by the prospect of working in the industry, there was no stress. Everything I worked on was awesome. As time goes on you do find yourself in your head shouting at the little things; the circle of death, computer responding slowly, project managers chasing work, swearing under your breath. It can get a bit overwhelming. My favourite thing to do is just go for a walk—take 20 minutes (if you can, do more). Just relax, take your mind off staring at pixels and refresh your mind to reality. When you get stuck on one idea it’s just best to move on. 11 // Shillington Post
Stick your headphones on, go to a bookshop or a nice coffee shop—this really helps me open my mind for new ideas. Another of my favourite things is films, I love going to the cinema. It’s where I can really switch off, from the loud booming experience to the sweeping camera shots, to just looking at the details that the filmmakers have created. Jeff: What usually works for me is to go outside and buy a tasty treat. Whatever brightens your mood— whether it be that chocolate bar or protein ball! Is there any advice you’d give to a current student/recent graduate from Shillington? Elle: For current students; focus on the skills and techniques being taught and good design will come naturally. For recent graduates, I had a great piece of advice from Laura Richardson from The Dots: don’t apply just anywhere, apply to places you really want to work for, as their style of work will guide and shape the type of designer you will become. James: Be yourself. I really tried hard when graduating to bring my personality to the forefront of my portfolio. I created a little box with some stickers, a newspaper and a cup of tea with a biscuit. Don’t be scared or shy about what people think, especially in class. Be the extra in ordinary, do simple things. Get yourself a website, a professional email address, really show you care about creativity and professionalism. And once you get that job, approach everything with enthusiasm and be open to anything. It can be a scary place, but if you listen, learn and develop, you’ll have the best time wherever you end up. Jeff: Don't ever stop asking lots of questions. And work smart.
10 INCREDIBLE APPS // John Fry
10 INCREDIBLE APPS TO STREAMLINE YOUR DAY-TO-DAY PROCESS WORDS BY JOHN FRY // ILLUSTRATIONS BY ALI NEILLY
Wanting to get the most out of our working day can be a struggle, with overflowing to-do lists, dozens of open browser tabs and a desktop resembling a tapestry. We're constantly in need of a quicker fix to manage our lists, record our thoughts and view our data. Time to enlist the help of some carefully considered apps. Shillington's digital mastermind, John Fry, shares which apps are geared towards making our day-to-day processes more productive and manageable.
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10 INCREDIBLE APPS // John Fry
Tyme2: My Time Tracker
Wunderlist: My To-Do List
A list on a bit of paper is okay, but paper gets lost. I think it's key to get it out of your head and onto something so you can move onto doing what you need to do. Wunderlist is a cross platform app that lets you set up lists for different things like work, home or even down to particular projects. Reminders are a godsend and keep things on track. And better yet, the basic level is free!
Trello: My Project Planner
I use Trello for keeping track of website projects, but you can basically use it for anything you’re planning, be it work related or even just your three year old's birthday party. Based on the concept of cards, you set up a board with different lists of main tasks, then populate them with subtasks. They can be colour coded, assigned to different people, divided into checklists and so on. The best part is having a ‘Done’ list and dragging completed tasks into that. A simple overall setup might be having ‘Doing’, ‘To Do’ and ‘Done’ categories.
Tyme2 is more of a freelance tool, but I use it to track all my projects, keeping things on schedule and within budget. It allows you to track projects and specific tasks within those projects. Tyme2 is a great tool to help you understand how you work and how to improve workflow as well as quoting on future jobs. What’s nice is that Tyme2 notices when your computer hasn’t been active for a while and stops tasks when you forget.
Feedly: My News Feed
The interwebs is full of useful articles, but who has time to visit all those blogs and news sites? Feedly lets you subscribe to as many RSS feeds from your favourite sites as you like, then packages all that news into a single interface. At the moment I'm scanning about 80 different sites, letting me filter the content I'm really interested in reading and ignore the rest.
Instapaper: My Interwebs Library
Having skimmed all that content with Feedly, often I don’t have time to read it on the spot. So, with Instapaper I can save them to read later, free of the distraction of going to the site itself. It also works across different devices so I can download content and read it offline later on my phone or iPad. Mine is full of developer-related content and forms the basis of a library I refer back to all the time, all nicely categorised under different titles.
Clear: My List Maker
iA Writer: My Notebook
Writing anything is a challenge with so many distractions taking away your focused attention. iA Writer aims to solve this by simplifying the interface for a writing app. Why do I need a thousand buttons and icons presented by Word, when all I really need to do is write?
If you're anything like me, you'll be all too familiar with the need to make a list for anything and everything. It clears our heads, helps keep us right and provides a structure for productivity. But, what happens when your list becomes a cluttered mess? You download Clear. A no-mess system of compiling all the things you need to remember, then swiping them away once you're done. You can add your own themes, colours and even sync the lists on multiple platforms so it's there whenever you need it.
1Password: My Passwords Slack: My Conversation Feed 1password.com
If you're still writing passwords on a piece of paper somewhere or even worse, using the same password for everything, all I can say is hand over all of your money and personal details to the next person you meet on the street. 1Password lets you remember a single phrase to access all your passwords. It suggests super complex passwords and can autofill passwords for sites you visit. It's a paid app, but well worth it in the long run.
Clocks App for Mac: My Universal Time Keeper
Ever had to plan a Skype with a colleague overseas or schedule a chat with a faraway relative? It's just plain hard working all those time zones out, especially if you have to schedule it for the future. Clocks lets you add different countries to the app so you can compare real times, or drag the slider back and forth to work out future times.
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Ever dreamed of Whatsapp for professional context? Well Slack is all you've ever wanted and more. An effortless way of keeping in the loop with your team so you don't miss out on any stages of a project. With the ability to create multiple slack channels and the flexibility of using it on multiple platforms it re-defines social organisation.
OPINION // Brenton Craig
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OPINION // Brenton Craig
DON'T GET IT PERFECT, GET IT GOING WORDS AND ILLUSTRATION BY BRENTON CRAIG
Why, as designers, are we all chasing an unattainable perfection? Part-time Shillington teacher Brenton Craig dives in to discuss our creative industry's obsession.
"Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence." —Vince Lombardi Design creates an incredible opportunity to inspire and enrich the lives of those who happen upon it. But it also serves the mundane and communicates the daily grind of business and marketing. As a designer of 10 years now (how did that happen?) I still find myself drifting between the polarising worlds of dream job and bread winning. It’s in this restless state that I look enviously through the cracked window of my iPhone at my favourite studios and designers and can’t help but compare. I always seem to fall short. Despite my years of experience, I'm always my own harshest critic. In these moments of self depreciation I can hear Mr Roosevelt over my shoulder saying “comparison is the thief of joy, my boy”! So this brings us to the bigger question. Why, as designers, are we all chasing an unattainable perfection? Perhaps society, advertising and social media is to blame. I mean, each day we find ourselves exposed to constructed lifestyles through fragmented realities. Instagram, I'm lookin' at you. Maybe this subconsciously creeps into our work and contributes to feelings of self doubt. Or maybe it’s our own obsession with design thinking that forces us to refine, refine, refine as we compare our creative process to the finished design of others. And beyond that, an easier scapegoat is to pin it on soul-sucking clients that are always demanding perfection yesterday for work they will pay you for tomorrow. "Have no fear of perfection—you'll never reach it." —Salvador Dali Everyone has their own insecurities when it comes to their profession. From whichever angle you approach it, there is something to be said of owning where you're at in your design career and enjoying the journey for what it is. Good designers are flexible and constantly evolving with the world around them. We have the power to effect society and shape the environment 15 // Shillington Post
around us. Be bold, don't be afraid to embrace anxiety and self doubt as part of the creative process! Our most revered design influences come from creative thinkers that push through the internal and external competition to lead our industry. While I might be just 'another guy' that overthinks stuff, according to Professor of Psychology Dr Anders Ericsson (Peak: Secrets From The New Science Of Expertise), the ability of any given individual to acquire and perfect any given skill is almost limitless. He explains that it’s not so much ability or intelligence that separates the very best from the mediocre, but the degree to which they engage in what he calls 'deliberate practice'. A potential synonym for practice being ‘work’. So what can we learn from this neverending quest for perfection? Be sure to sweat the important stuff like design principles, concept generation, visual language and clarity of communication. But temper those results with a healthy realisation that aesthetics are subjective. In many ways, creating work that people love or hate is awesome because you're creating a reaction. The opposite of love isn't hate, it's indifference. As long as people are critiquing your designs and forming opinions about your work, you're cutting through and breaking down barriers. If you stay true to your own ideology you'll always remain relevant. "Making mistakes is better than faking perfections."—Unknown The funny thing, is when you visit the studios you admire most and actually speak to your design heroes, it's always humbling to find they're no different from you. Remember—just about everyone around you is thinking/feeling or has already thought/ felt exactly the same way you do. It's refreshing to know we're a community that's in this together! For me, I’m slowly starting to realise that perfection sucks. We shouldn't seek a pinnacle or defining achievement of absolute perfection. Your design career is an ongoing process and it's one that should be experienced and enjoyed. At the end of the day, the only thing separating you from growing in your career is your own commitment.
Poster by Shillington graduate James Eagle. See more of his work at jameseagle.bigcartel.com.
LAUREN BASSER: STUDENT PROCESS
Lauren Basser was on track to become an architect, but a fierce love of graphics sent her in a new direction. She decided to study part-time at Shillington Melbourne and dove deeply into developing a methodical creative processâ€”resulting in a stunning portfolio. In this feature, discover the concepts behind her outcomes. Lauren now works as a junior designer at BrandWorks in Melbourne. See more of her work at www.laurenbasser.com.
1. SUPERGIANTâ€”WHISKY FOR GEEKS
2. WHILE AT SHILLINGTON, LAUREN CHALLENGED HERSELF TO DRAW EACH LETTER OF THE ALPHABET 20 TIMES. "The process not only forced me to critique the form of each letter, but enlightened me on what typefaces I am drawn to and why."
3. CATNIPâ€”CHOCOLATE FOR CAT LADIES
4 & 5. LICENSE TO LUNCHâ€”CAMPAIGN EVENT
PROFILE // Ben Pirotte
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PROFILE // Ben Pirotte
BEN PIROTTE INTERVIEW BY SARA MAZZONI // PHOTOGRAPHY BY NATALIA BAKER
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PROFILE // Ben Pirotte
Ben Pirotte started his career as a self-taught designer but was in dire need of a "portfolio upgrade". After graduating from Shillington New York at the beginning of 2015, he quickly landed a job at Propoint Graphics and has recently launched a full-time freelance career working in-house at top agency R/GA and designing for big names like TED, Quartz and DIRECTV. We caught up with Ben to hear about his philosophy on creative process and adjusting to freelance life.
When did you start playing around with hand lettering and typography? Why do you love it? I honestly didn’t even think about hand lettering much until I went to Shillington! I had always been interested in typography, though, and came from a background in journalism/ editorial art direction for my college newspaper. There is where I realised the importance of proper typographic use. I have found that hand lettering is a very fun and appropriate tool for many brands, and one of my most recent logo designs, for a friend’s floral studio in Portland, Oregon, I had a great time working with it! I would by no means say I am an expert or that it’s something I specialise in, but we were both very happy with the outcome. I’d love to learn more! With typography and beyond, how does putting pen to paper help your creative process? It’s funny, because I am a terrible sketcher. I was not talented in the drawing department unlike many (if not most) of my graphic design colleagues. I admire those people greatly. But, truthfully, word association, generic wireframing—or even using x’s or boxes to denote elements on a page—really does help solidify and continue the process. There’s something infinite about a computer screen that can often make you feel stuck. Pen and paper bring that world to a finite level for you to begin, and the infinity of the computer allows you to perfect it. But I do still have to remind myself every day that pen and paper is an important beginning step!
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PROFILE // Ben Pirotte
What's been the favourite project of your professional design career so far? My favourite project so far has been a branding project I did for a social enterprise company called SOMOS. In general, I love doing branding projects, but this one was special because the company was a finalist in this year's Hult Prize competition. I also designed the presentation they gave to the award committee that was seen by some extremely high-profile individuals; including Bill Clinton, Julia Gillard, the former Prime Minister of Australia, and Muhammad Yunus, 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Winner, to name a few. The SOMOS team were also a great pleasure to work with and have been so happy with the work I did for them. I love doing work for clients who "give back" in one way or another, and this is a prime example of one of those kind of clients. Although they didn't ultimately win the prize, their business is still taking off and I'm glad I could be there to help launch it. Do you prefer working in digital or print? I think designing for print vs. digital is not about preference for me—it's about what the client needs that would best suit. I love the timelessness of print and the physical realm it occupies; but I love the incredible capabilities digital presents— with movement, dynamism, etc. 27 // Shillington Post
How did you find the transition from working as an in-house designer to freelancing full-time? What's a typical day like for you now? Working in-house has its challenges just as freelance does. I found it difficult at times being the only designer (which is often the case at a company), but at other times it was really great to own your own work. Daily life is much simpler at an in-house position as it creates a lot of stability. This is obviously also achievable from working at an agency or studio full time (which I have also done), but freelancing keeps you on your toes. I usually do on-site work so it tends to still feel like a regular job day-to-day, but sometimes you don't know where your next gig will be, which can be hard. It's also exciting, though, and gives a lot of flexibility! A typical day working in-house involved much more administrative work, meetings, and other work that was not related to design. At my last in-house position I also wrote a lot and even photographed some. A typical day for me now is mostly spent actually designing.
PROFILE // Ben Pirotte
You're a fervent traveller. How do you think this affects your creative process? Yes, I love to travel probably more than anything else. I'm currently writing to you from my seat on a flight to Paris! It was actually travelling that first got me interested in a creative career—as I originally dreamed of being a photographer. I could think of nothing more incredible when I was 15 than travelling the world and photographing it. I've always been a highly visual person, which is where I think my design sense comes from. I really love just wandering around in a new place; discovering funny alleyways with small shops, or taking random turns on dirt roads in the middle of nowhere. While I continue to be a photographer, mostly of travel, design allows me to create with more purpose, which I really enjoy. I really love to see how different places incorporate parts of their culture into everyday design. I also really love seeing different typographic usage, with different letters and characters being incorporated in really interesting ways. I was so enthralled on my recent trip to Japan where I got what was called a goshuin: It's a booklet that houses unique stamps and messages from each temple or shrine you go to. I loved watching calligraphers write in them. I had no idea what it read, but I loved seeing the letters brushed on to the page! Really though, I'd say the biggest impact travel has is that it is great inspiration. I love seeing how other places look, live, work, get around, eat, etc. The world is an amazing place.
28 // Shillington Post
As you know, the theme of this issue is "process". What's your philosophy on maintaining a solid creative process? One of the things I have to continuously remind myself is to keep doing. This is just as much a reminder to myself as it is a pointer to prospective designers or other creatives. Don’t worry about failing. Don’t worry about what other people think, but seek advice from people you respect. Go for it. Why did you choose to study Shillington? With my return to the US after travelling abroad, my identity crisis also began to return. I started researching schools again. I was trying to decide whether or not I wanted to take the time to go to graduate school and if that would even be worth it. I was very hesitant to go get another bachelor's degree. Then I remembered an ad I had seen in Australia for a small school claiming to get you a portfolio and job-ready as a designer in 3 months. I like efficiency, and am extremely impatient, so this seemed perfect. I did more research about the school, looked at graduate work, and when I found out I could go in New York, I was ready. The down payment went in and I was enrolled for the following January. I chose Shillington because nowhere else had I found such good results in such a tight turnaround. For me, it wasn't about the degree—I just wanted to get a major boost as a designer who had already begun working. The main thing I needed was a portfolio upgrade. Shillington really helped me reach my true potential, and in just a few months.
PROFILE // Ben Pirotte
“There’s something infinite about a computer screen that can often make you feel stuck. Pen and paper bring that world to a finite level for you to begin, and the infinity of the computer allows you to perfect it."
What was the best thing about the course? The best thing about the course was the nononsense approach. You learn something, you do something, you learn about what you did, and you do it all over again. Design, like many creative fields, can have a lot of subjective fluff around it that can make it hard to feel like you're learning something concrete. At Shillington, you learn that there is actually quite a bit of science that infiltrates the artistic world that graphic design lives in, which is part of what makes it such a valuable skill. You learn how to be creative, but also how to talk about your work, explain your decisions, and actually make creative decisions based on solid design principles. I also appreciate that Shillington teachers are working designers and don't just talk about design—they do it. Right in front of you. You learn by working through a brief almost every day together, and each day gets better and better. How has your life changed since graduating from Shillington? My life changed in many ways. 1. I moved to New York City (for the course initially), then 2. got a job almost straight after the course at an agency as a designer, 3. adopted the cutest old-lady dog in the world, (I named her Abuela). Most importantly, though, I'm much more confident to call myself the "designer" I always was. I knew I had it in me, I just needed a way to show it.
29 // Shillington Post
CALENDAR: JUL ’16 – DEC ’16
WHAT: 100 YEARS— EDWARD JOHNSTON'S LETTERING FOR LONDON WHERE: DITCHLING
WHAT: SEMI PERMANENT WHERE: AUCKLAND
WHAT: THE EMAIL DESIGN CONFERENCE WHERE: BOSTON
WHAT: UX AUSTRALIA WHERE: MELBOURNE
100 Years marks the centenary of Edward Johnston's London Underground typeface. This exhibition includes calligraphy manuscripts as well as rare, never before seen drawings of his designs for the world famous typeface, Johnston. Also celebrated in the 100 year anniversary are the original drawings of Gill Sans, designed by Eric Gill—Johnston's pupil when he was teaching in the lettering department of the Central School of Arts & Crafts.
Be a part of a global creative and design thinking conference bringing together a community of more than 300,000 people and a network of 800+ speakers and artists. This year’s twoday symposium is filled with visionaries, creators, doers and disrupters from across all design disciplines. Orbited by thought-provoking satellite events, panel discussions, networking and parties—Semi Permanent will inspire and enable creative people with fresh design thinking. "We encourage sharing real thought, process, emotion and insight—with no bullshit".
The Email Design Conference brings the email community together to celebrate their craft and give email professionals a platform to learn, share, and grow. Join the smartest email professionals in the world for workshops, talks, one-on-one advice, and networking. Free from product pitches and meaningless hype—this two-day event is all about content and teaches designers, marketers, and strategists how to produce emails that look great, perform well and engage their target audiences.
UX Australia is a four day community conference about everything user experience. Split between two days of presentations from talented guest speakers, to provide you with practical knowledge and two days of intensive hands-on workshops from a host of industry specific guest speakers— you'll walk away inspired and ready for your next project! Meet up, hang out and share your ideas with interface designers, usability engineers, market researchers and business analysts uniting under the one roof at the Grand Hyatt Melbourne.
Ends 11th September 2016.
Ends 13th August 2016.
Ends 17th August 2016.
Ends 26th August 2016.
WHAT: OFFF BY NIGHT WHERE: ANTWERP.
WHAT: CUSP CONFERENCE WHERE: CHICAGO
WHAT: AIGA DESIGN CONFERENCE WHERE: LOS ANGELES
WHAT: GRAPHIC DESIGN FESTIVAL SCOTLAND WHERE: GLASGOW
OFFF by Night is the first after dark edition of the famous OFFF conference. Originating in Barcelona 15 years ago—OFFF is a meeting place for creatives. Over two days the conference features 20 international speakers including the likes of typographer Gemma O'Brien—gathered for a weekend in Antwerp to feed the future of design. In addition to regular scheduling, experience contemporary nightlife and atmosphere at the good life market in collaboration with MARTA, Antwerp's finest farmers' market.
Cusp is a two day conference about the design of everything—design by humans, nature or by some other force. It’s about broad thinking and proudly not a 'how to design things' conference. It’s about getting people out of the world they know and immersing them in a flood of ideas that ultimately helps break down barriers and connect unknown dots. With over 25 inspiring presentations lined up and eclectic by design—Cusp is a cross-pollination of ideas that will inspire and get you passionate about designing a better future.
The AIGA Design Conference is the biggest event of the year for likeminded creatives across the country! Join the design community as they gather for two full days of provocative speakers in a forum that features legendary graphic designer and AIGA Medalist Paula Scher. Double down on inspiration with creative visionaries and take advantage of the full conference schedule including networking, innovative professional development sessions and face-toface roundtables with your favourite design icons.
Graphic Design Festival Scotland is an international organisation promoting creativity, innovation, collaboration and challenging ways of thinking through a programme of workshops, talks, panel discussions, exhibitions, competitions, music and urban murals. Spend the week inspired as the Graphic Design Festival Scotland educates you on the best in the international visual communication and design scene. Socialising is a key aspect of this festival as it aims to build creative networks across the globe.
Ends 24th September 2016
Ends 29th September 2016.
Ends 19th October 2016.
Ends 23rd October 2016.
WHAT: LONDON DESIGN BIENNALE WHERE: LONDON
WHAT: BIG DESIGN CONFERENCE WHERE: ADDISON
WHAT: BRAND NEW CONFERENCE WHERE: NASHVILLE
WHAT: WEBVISIONS WHERE: CHICAGO
The first ever London Design Biennale will open this September at Somerset House! Under the theme, Utopia by Design, over 30 countries internationally will unite as they explore the big questions and raise ideas on how design can solve our growing issues on sustainability, migration, pollution, energy, cities and social equality. Come and engage with interactive installations, innovations, artworks and proposed design solutions from cutting edge architects, designers, scientists, writers and artists at the top of their field.
Originally conceived in 2008, the Big Design Conference has become a must-attend event for user experience and usability professionals. Speakers are a diverse mix of industry brainiacs, well-known authors, web influencers, application developers and film makers—including Oscar and Emmy nominated winners! With over 1,000 attendees, be amongst the biggest names and the brightest minds as they gather over three days to present theories, share research, experiences and best practices at the Big Design Conference.
Back in its seventh year, Brand New is a two day design conference focusing on the practice of corporate and brand identity. Organised by everyone's favourite folks at UnderConsideration—Brand New packs a punch with a hefty schedule as you learn from some of today's most active and influential design practitioners. Comprising of eight sessions each day, the conference covers a broad range of topics from speakers around the globe including Mike Alderson of Man vs Machine and Dirk Barnett from Nike.
WebVisions is a global conference that inspires learning by exploring the future of content strategy, web, mobile and user experience design. Join an audience of designers, developers and industry leaders over three days of workshops and discussions as they collaborate to 'change the world, one byte at a time'. You'll be inspired as you follow the journey of internationally acclaimed guest speakers—including New York based Art Directors and friends, Jessica Walsh and Timothy Goodman as they take you through their career and personal projects.
Ends 27th September 2016.
Ends 10th September 2016.
Ends 16th September 2016.
Ends 23rd September 2016.
WHAT: OFFSET WHERE: SHEFFIELD
WHAT: MADE BY FEW WHERE: BENTONVILLE
WHAT: ADOBE MAX— THE CREATIVITY CONFERENCE WHERE: SAN DIEGO
WHAT: WEB SUMMIT WHERE: LISBON
OFFSET has fast become one of the worlds most inspirational and educational conferences for designers. OFFSET Sheffield—as a part of Sheffield Catalyst Festival of Creativity and Sheffield’s Design Week, represents the industry at all levels. Its speakers are key disruptors and influencers in their fields— driving everything from huge global campaigns to awe inspiring personal projects and will speak about their work, ideas, and inspirations, giving audiences insight into their personal practices this two day event.
Attention designers, developers, creatives and entrepreneurs in the start up community—Made by Few is a three day conference trying to make the web a more beautiful place. It not only focuses on the technical aspects of design and development but the more nuanced aspects like taste and approach. Its goal is to shake things up and challenge predisposed opinions on what makes a good product. You'll leave this event thinking differently and feeling inspired to create after networking with amazing food, people, culture and talent across the region.
The world’s premier creativity conference MAX, is an awe-inspiring mashup of over 9,000 of the world’s top creatives and best-in-the-business experts, who come together to learn, share, create, inspire, connect and play. If you want to get inspired by others in your tribe, this is the place to be. The diverse list of speakers includes creatives across the fields of graphic design, illustration, photography, video and web and app design—not to mention Actor, Musician, Director and tech investor Jared Leto!
A tech-fanatic's dream come true— Web Summit is an annual technology conference and celebration of all things web! In its first year in sunny Lisbon—this three day conference is where 'tech meets world' and is one of the biggest, fastest and most influential events for entrepreneurship and innovation. Packed full of the best and upcoming new start-ups in the industry, as well as everyone's favourite internet titans—Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook— the Silicon Valley elite. This is definitely one to mark on iCal!
Ends 22nd October 2016.
Ends 29th October 2016.
Ends 4th November 2016.
Ends 10th November 2016.
SHILLINGTON IS A PROGRESSIVE DESIGN INSTITUTION PROVIDING COURSES AROUND THE WORLD. TURN YOUR PASSION INTO A CAREER IN JUST 3 MONTHS FULL-TIME OR 9 MONTHS PART-TIME. shillingtoneducation.com | shillingtondesignblog.com | @shillington_ | #shillopost