Ravensbourne University London
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I chose to study at Ravensbourne due to its strong track record of students going on to work in the creative industries after their studies. As a specialist art and design institution, Ravensbourne offered an industry-focused design degree with a curriculum that offered the chance to collaborate with other courses like product design and motion graphics. I was excited by the opportunity to learn from experienced tutors with close ties to industry, as well as visiting lecturers who were often experts in design disciplines ranging from branding to typography.

Graphic design offered a problem-solving aspect to art that I found fascinating, and it combined different forms of expression through visual communication. My dad was an illustrator, so growing up I was always surrounded by art and I loved drawing, but I also really enjoyed maths and science at school. Conveying a complex message through imagery is an immensely exciting challenge, and the graphic design course at Ravensbourne helped clarify my thought processes and creative output to successfully answer project briefs. By learning about concepts, context and target audiences, I gained the skills to create engaging work that reaches people more effectively.

Studying at Ravensbourne really opened my eyes in terms of how to approach design work. The aesthetics of the output is just one piece of the puzzle, because without a strong concept the work won’t reach its full potential. My first year at Ravensbourne was the year the state-of-the-art North Greenwich campus was opened, and I was very excited to try the latest facilities such as laser-cutting and 3D printing as part of my studies. The graphic design course was particularly good as it had a strong digital focus, and the coding club really helped me with my final major project while teaching me the possibilities of digital design. The ‘Enterprise and Entrepreneurship’ unit helped teach us how to run a business, find clients and the difference between full-time and freelance work.

My third year was a definite highlight — I won a ‘Young Creative Network’ (YCN) award, which helped forge industry connections I still use today! The class size was quite small but we were all motivated to do our best work, and so we treated the university like a small design studio. We would come in every day (even if we didn’t have class) and critique each other’s work, getting feedback from our peers to make sure we were on target in answering the brief. I also really enjoyed all of the guest lectures on offer. Seeing film director Danny Boyle give a talk at Ravensbourne was definitely a highlight!

Studying graphic design helped me learn that every decision you make has to be properly thought through. This way of thinking has been really helpful in my professional life when explaining design decisions to clients. By showing them where an idea came from and why it has been executed in the way that it has, they are much more likely to be onboard with your design outcome. The project assessments at Ravensbourne were always challenging but rewarding. They involved giving a presentation to the class ending with a Q&A session, which massively helped me with my confidence and public speaking.

After graduating I did an internship at a design studio in Camden, before joining artificial intelligence company QuantumBlack. As it had a relatively small design team, I got be very hands-on with many aspects of design including branding, signage, digital products, data science and web applications. I learnt a lot from projects with a wide variety of clients from Formula 1 to pharmaceuticals to manufacturers. I now work as an information designer at Beyond Words Studio in Shoreditch, creating data visualisations for clients such as Microsoft and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It’s my job to help communicate complex data narratives through graphics, with my role having a particular focus on digital design projects.

I would encourage current students to always be open to new ideas and new ways of thinking. Show initiative, collaborate with people from other disciplines outside of design and keep learning about the world! Inspiration comes from many places, so I would encourage visits to museums and galleries and taking on other artistic endeavours in the form of personal projects. Make sure you can talk about your work, explain your reasoning and don’t just rely on aesthetics — ensure you have a solid idea behind your designs. Have confidence in your work and keep creating!

Calum Hale

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