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5 Years Since Shillington: Amee Wilson, Art Director and Creative Fellow at Rare with Google

We last spoke to Amee Wilson five years ago, when she landed an internship just four weeks out of Shillington—that converted into a full-time design role with one of the largest advertising/marketing agencies in Australasia. We caught up with her recently to chat about landing the amazing Creative Fellowship (alongside fellow Shillumni Suparom Ronyut) at Rare with Google, where she currently works as an art director. 

Read on to hear more about her creative journey, time at Google, lockdown-borne webcomic and much more! 

When we last chatted 5 years ago, you had landed an internship that converted into a full-time design role with Clemenger BBDO just four weeks after graduating Shillington. Can you tell us about the last 5 years? How has Shillington changed your life?

It’s been a wild ride to be honest! I’ve worked at a few different agencies now and am currently at Google. It’s always been a dream of mine to work here, way before Shillington.

I could never have really predicted I’d get here in such a short space of time! And I completely have Shillington to thank for that. I told my teachers what I wanted to do after the course and they did everything to make sure I’d get there!

Thinking back, why did you choose Shillington? What made our design course stand out from the rest?

The short length of the course—3 months didn’t feel like a big risk if I did it and decided it wasn’t for me! They also offered a payment plan so I could pay it off over time, as I didn’t have the full amount upfront. That really helped!

And just the work in people’s portfolios coming out of the program; it was crazy to believe it was just 12 weeks’ work.

You’re now working as an Art Director at Google, as part of the Google Rare Creative Fellowship (alongside fellow Shillumni Suparom Ronyut)! Can you tell us more about that and how that happened?

I was working at Wunderman Thompson, and a friend of mine forwarded the application. The RARE Fellowship is a 9-month contract designed to bring more diverse talent into the creative, advertising and tech industries. There’s still a huge gap when it comes to background, education, and sexuality. So they aim to bring in people with 0-4ish years’ experienc, get them across some awesome projects in design, copywriting, art direction among other things, and then release them back into the wild!

I never thought I had a chance as there were 2,000 applicants globally, but I just put in an application and crossed all my digits!

What’s the most exciting opportunity you’ve had during the fellowship? Can you share details about any recent projects?

I have to be that person and can’t say too much, I’m so sorry! I’m working on a really exciting project that is building some new technology (which I sometimes pinch myself when I think about it!), and a film about Pride for launch next year around Mardis Gras. There’s been a few projects along the way, but those are the two projects that still give me goosebumps!

After graduating Shillington, you quickly landed roles as an Art Director for big advertising agencies like Clemenger BBDO, Oglivy, and Wunderman Thompson. How were those experiences, and how did they help shape your creative career to get where you are today?

Advertising is a very intense industry, so they were definitely a baptism by fire. That said, my first year as a designer at Clems was a huge learning curve. Because it was so fast-paced I got very, very fluent in processes (and shortcuts!). I got very used to working under pressure and that’s definitely come in useful over the years. They also taught me to always try and think bigger. You can always pull something back if it’s too much, but there’s nothing more frustrating than knowing you held back.

What inspires your design work? We’d love to hear about any particular experiences or influences on your practice!

I don’t get to do as much design work these days! As my job tends to be more conceptual thinking, I usually end up working with (way more) talented people to bring them to life. So those people usually inspire me! I also discovered an artist called Kelly Anna a few years ago, and her approach struck a chord. She avoids things like Pinterest and Instagram, given the algorithms serve up similar things to everyone, and she looks back through art history for inspiration. You can see her work is heavily Greek-inspired!

Where do you see yourself in 12 months?

I will actually still be at Google! I have been lucky enough to have my contract extended so I will be working on some of those secret projects and hopefully launching them into the world!

Back to Shillington, did you make any lasting connections with teachers or fellow students during the course?

I still talk to a few of the people in my class! I actually messaged one of them the other day for some advice about how to get some things printed for some illustration work I’ve been doing on the side!

What was the most surprising thing about the course?

How quickly you learn. And how quickly the teachers’ feedback transforms your work. You end up creating things you never thought you could!

If you could give one piece of advice to someone starting the full-time course at Shillington, what would it be?

Throw yourself into it completely. The 3 months will absolutely fly by and you’ll be so sad when it’s done! Take in every minute of feedback from your teachers and classmates and just enjoy the ride. I wish I could go back and do it again!

Anything else you would like to share? Surprise us!

I’m going to do a shameless plug—but I started two webcomics during the lockdown in Aus this year. If you’re into comics about anxiety, or queer identity, I’d love you to come and check them out! @anxious.animals and @queeeerchameleon

Huge thanks to Amee for sharing her creative journey! If you’d love to see more of her work make sure to follow her on Instagram.

At Shillington, we love the diversity and rich perspective our students bring from all over the globe. Feeling inspired by Amee’s story? Learn more about Shillington’s 3 month full-time and 9 month part-time courses Online or on campus in New York, London, Manchester, Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane.

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