Team GD: Post from Tees bit on the side

As part of a week-long ‘Festival of Learning’ series of events, Graphic Design entered a team into the not-so-serious Festival Challenge afternoon. Our team of non-olympians were made up of Year 3 students, Ashley Beaumont, Robbie Blaser, Ben Hall, Todd Mitchell, Anthony Spence and Tutor, Michael O’Malley, who collectively had to compete against 10 other teams from across the University, in various physical and cerebral challenges. There was a prize on offer of £1000, which could be spent on course activities or equipment, so the competition was intense – more intense than we expected! As the events progressed, the demands took their toll – old injuries flared up, post-St Patrick’s Day festivities fatigue set in for some, and a general lack of fitness for others. Despite all this, the team battled on, battered and bruised, to complete all tasks, to reach the finish line, in an attempt to beat the clock, pushing themselves to the limits in a Herculean attempt to achieve their goal…

and to ultimately lose!

But just remember, it’s the taking part that counts (as every good loser knows).






Bull 1

Bull 2

Balls 1

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H #1: Post from Tees bit on the side

On our recent study trip to London one topic kept recurring – Personality. It’s not a new topic of discussion for those looking to get into industry but it seems to be ever more relevant. We often quote the industry adage ‘It’s 80% Personality, 20% Portfolio’ and given the experiences of the recent trip there’s no need to stop. Over the next few posts we’ll distill some of the insights which mean that whilst work will get you noticed, behaviour and attitude will get you the gig.

H is for HUNGER.
Drive. Desire. Ambition. Call it what you will, it’s the single biggest factor in your future success and happiness. If it’s not there and you can’t find it then do something else.

Hunger gives you grit
At 4 Designers Dave Palmer, co-founder and Creative Director at LOVE, talked about getting into industry and the determination needed to work through tough times, knock backs and uninspiring workplaces. Experiences which were fundamental in building his knowledge and motivation to found LOVE.


It didn’t take Ex-Teessider and YCN award winner, Ant Jumratsilpa, 820 days but she estimates sending out over 100 CV’s when she first moved to London. From this she got a few appointments to show her portfolio, one of which was at Carter Wong. They liked her work but had no vacancies. It took her a while to land the first placement, but she’s now working at The Creative Corporation (They’ve just finished the latest Jimmy Page album cover). The truth is there’s a lot that can get in the way of your dream job – companies are not always hiring, you may not be right for the company or they may not be right for you. It’s your hunger that gets you through.

And once you’re working… the business side of design is hard work. Dave Palmer from LOVE explained why:


Hunger to learn
Phil Carter’s talk at 4 designers explored this topic through the things he does outside of client work. We’ll look at some specific examples in a future post, but for now take-away his overall message ‘Design is not a job, it’s an addiction.’


A useful aspect to meeting young designers was that we were able to discuss very recent routes into industry. Ollie Evill, a designer at SapientNitro, discussed his transition from University to industry. He reflected on his third year at University being his most valuable because he had changed his attitude and was hungry to learn. He described ‘pestering tutors’ with questions, exploring new processes and technologies and learning coding. That he was able to demonstrate a questioning, learning attitude in his portfolio (see his SK Black project) became a big reason he landed the opportunities he did. But it doesn’t stop there. When you get to industry you must remain eager and keen to learn, Dev Morgan, Studio Lead at ustwo, talked to students about that mindset being important from day one. Designers at ustwo must be able to work collaboratively, be open to learning and feed into the development of the entire studio. He thinks it’s about people who ‘don’t see distinctions between tasks’ and are able to do what needs to be done. Rob Varney, Design Director at Foolproof, echoed these ideas discussing the need for designers to not live in their own ‘zone’ and championing ‘looking over people’s shoulders.’ He said ‘you’ve got to get up from your chair and see what others are doing!’

Hunger makes you hunt
Ollie at SapientNitro commented that ‘you always need to be spotting opportunities’ in relation to how he found his first internship. After Uni he had taken some time to travel through Europe, finishing up in London for 10 days. Whilst in London he sent out CV’s to target companies and ended up being invited to a couple of interviews. He was offered an internship which meant he had to delay his flight by 3 months. Over a year and half later and I guess that he’s now cancelled the flight home.

Those that actively create opportunities will do the best. As mentioned in an earlier post the routes into industry are rich and varied. The advice from Dev Morgan at ustwo was ‘get in the room with people’ – this can happen at networking events, exhibitions, launches, cultural events, in the pub and even on study trips. Our own Jennifer Crewdson who now works at SapientNitro landed her break by being an active part of the D&AD New Blood exhibition. It’s clear that you can increase your chances of being in the right place at the right time through research and planning. If you can’t physically get in the room with people then be in their digital space. Jobs/opportunities are often posted on twitter, following the right people and managing your twitter feed keeps you in the know and means you can immediately pounce on opportunities when they come up. Bottom line you must actively hunt for opportunities to brush shoulders with people who matter.

So, who matters? Obviously your Nan, Dad or Aunty Flo matter, but unless you come from a family of designers they won’t be offering you a job. Some companies may have a recruitment contact or HR team and set ways to apply for internships etc. posted on their websites. For some opportunities you may have to get more creative – there’s no set rules on being noticed! Try to identify specific people. The Creative Director may not the best person to contact unless the company is quite small. Dave Palmer suggested trying to email a middleweight designer who can bring you to the attention of decision makers. Creative Directors and senior roles are often just too busy to notice – it’s nothing personal. If you want to get noticed you need to be exceptional; Dave Palmer from LOVE kindly asks that graduates stop sending him packets of Lovehearts.

Just one more thing…
With all this hunger you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s dog eat dog and according to this tongue-in-cheek comment from Chris at LOVE you’d be right:


In the next post we’ll look at why this is not absolutely true…

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London 2015: Post from Tees bit on the side

On 22-25 February 18 students travelled down to London for a delicious dollop of design research. Tutors arranged with contacts to offer students exclusive access to studios, designers, networks and industry insights to coincide with the 4 Designers conference. Over the next few weeks the Teeser will be posting insights and analysis for you to digest – watch this space.

What happened?

Tours of 4 leading design studios:


Talks and Q&A from 4 founders of high profile design companies:
Carter Wong Phil Carter
LOVE Dave Palmer
NB Studios Alan Dye
Dalton Maag Bruno Maag


After hours with graduates from Teesside who are ‘living it’ in London:
The Creative Corporation Music Industry/Graphic Design/Digital
Condé Naste Publishing/Digital Publishing/Graphic Design
Freelance D&AD Award Winning/Art Director/Motion/Animation/Projection
7th Chamber Social Video Publishing/Graphic Design/Digital
WeMakeWebsites Web Design/Graphic Design/Digital


And this:


How did this happen?

The culmination of emailing, telephoning, scoping, budgeting, negotiating, permission-getting, scheduling, form-signing, booking, promoting, meeting, waiting, cancelling, rearranging, re-booking, persevering, money-handling, paying, insuring, checking, double-checking, triple-checking, mistake-spotting, fire-fighting, strategising, contacting friends, contacting strangers, liaising, asking, listing, confirming, time-tabling, route-finding, communicating, gathering, travelling, arriving, Oyster-swiping, rooming, unpacking, raining, drying, watching, listening, questioning, fussballing, drinking, eating, documenting, problem-solving, time-keeping, visiting, greeting, reputation-building, informing, surprising, good-bye-and-thank-youing, cheeky-bit-of-shopping, leaving, losing, panicking, finding, boarding and relaxing… delaying, worrying, running, fine-cutting, breath-catching and, finally, home-coming.

Why did this happen?

How else do you eat Shawarma with ustwo, get a free ice cream from SapientNitro, beat a D&AD award winner at Fussball or get tips on portfolio preparation from Pentagram?

Thanks to Átila Souza Oliveira for additional imagery.

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Kick Off: Post from Tees bit on the side

KickIt was a 18 5 2 formation when students, alumni and staff met in Bar Kick on Shoreditch High Street. The guise of last Monday was to catch-up with our graduates in London over a few beers and games of Fussball. Conversation flowed and the Teeser Fussball League saw teams play in knock out format to claim glory and the coveted TFL Trophy (a hastily drawn-on smoked almond).

Following on from our visit to the 4 designers conference the opportunity for students to relax and chat to those who were in their shoes a few years ago made for a big hit of industry knowledge and advice. It’s tough to break into industry and so the night was organised to hopefully make this seem a little more achievable for our current students. For those students on the trip the chance to discuss this first hand with those a few years ahead of them was invaluable.


It was really lovely to see ex-students again and fantastic that they came out to catch up with tutors and pass their experiences onto those who will be facing industry soon. It’s hard to summarise the varied and specific conversations that went down on the night, but for the benefit of those who weren’t there, some key insights are discussed below. It’s interesting to note that many of these relate to attitude and not to skills/talent:

Try, try and try again – Some students were reporting sending out over 100 CV’s and getting 3 or 4 replies. But that’s OK as long as you impress the replies you get.

You’ve got to hunt out the jobs – There was a general feeling that creative recruitment agencies were not as useful as they promised. Graduates reported their breaks came from more proactive methods – such as following ‘target’ companies on Twitter and contacting them as soon as jobs were posted. A more surprising source of that ‘first break’ was a job advertised on Gumtree. One thing is clear, jobs will not come to you.

Be hungry – When you leave Uni, the learning curve is steep at first and you never stop needing to learn – you must have hunger, be open, willing to learn and humble.

Nomad – Moving between companies is very common. Short internships and temporary placements help you work out yourself and the different types of companies. Remember, it’s not always that you aren’t right for the company, sometimes the company isn’t right for you.

Is bigger better? – Sometimes smaller companies can give you more flexibility in terms of roles and opportunities. Bigger may mean bigger clients but you have to work out what it is that you value. Having worked for big companies, one graduate felt more liberated, happier and was given more responsibility in a smaller company.

The idea of ‘The Generalist’ – This is becoming increasingly important. Some graduates are choosing to learn code, new software or work in motion whilst others are learning languages – The key message here is that having ‘something else’ in your tool kit can give you the edge. This was echoed by the many industry contacts we met up with.

Or not… – It may at first seem contrary to the point above, yet having seriously well developed specialist skills also makes you attractive but you need to understand where they fit into industry. It’s about drive, understanding the marketplace and being in-touch with current developments.

There’s lots more specifics that could be reported but at the end of the day that’s the beauty of being there!

…and if anyone was wondering about the TFL Trophy, the final saw tutor dream team, Tait and Diamond, triumph in an intense 6-4 goal fest. After storming, unbeaten, through the lower levels they faced the experienced and also unbeaten Blevins and Cheetham. At 4-1 the students staged a come back to 4-4, before a long shot from the solid defence of Diamond, skipped through the midfield and caught their keeper sleeping. A powerful attack straight from the restart saw Tait’s centre forward rattle the back of the goal, clenching the title. There was no ‘measured feedback’ on this night, the tutors showed the ruthless competitive streak required to win. The moral of the story; whether seeking Fussball glory or a way into industry, you must have the hunger and competitive edge.


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4 Designers: Post from Tees bit on the side

IMG_20150223_135409980 (1) IMG_20150223_11563818418 of us are currently in London. Today we’re at the 4 Designers Conference experiencing the wisdom of Alan Dyes (NB), Dave Palmer (Love), Bruno Maag (Dalton Maag Typefoundry) and a wonderfully whimsical and insightful talk from Phil Carter (Carter Wong).

A range of subjects have been covered including inspiration; how to approach agencies; what to say (and what not to say); the importance of drawing, looking and observing; and why Helvetica is not a modernist typeface.


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Top Mark: Post from Tees bit on the side

On Friday we got the low down on great logos, the idiosyncrasies of identities and the meaning of marvellous marks, as our latest guest lecture by Mark Sinclair, Deputy Editor of Creative Review, gave us a first-hand insight into some of the findings of his excellent new book, TM: The Untold Stories Behind 29 Classic Logos. Following that, Mark spent some time with our Final Year students in a Q&A session, where they were able to delve deeper into Mark’s extensive knowledge of the design industry. Many thanks again to Mark from all in Graphic Design.

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Mark Sinclair 3


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Be our guest… director: Post from Tees bit on the side

Rob Howsam, one of the founding partners of brand agency Purpose, spent last Friday working with our Year 3 students, as guest Creative Director of our latest N54 publication.

An intensive and vibrant session saw the year group split into design teams, each responsible for their own creative response to the theme of ‘Versus’. Deadlines were set throughout the day to deliver strategic feedback, hard-hitting advice and tea breaks… or coffee of course!

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N54 Howsam 4

N54 Howsam

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