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Meet Georgina Charles: London 2021 Diversity in Design Full Scholarship Recipient

Last year Shillington launched, for the first time, our Diversity in Design Full Scholarship opportunities—in New York City, London and Sydney. A collaborative commitment between Shillington and industry partners to cultivate diverse and inclusive representation in the design industry—open to aspiring designers from underrepresented groups.

Our 2022 Scholarship applications are now open—not sure if you’re ready to dive in, or how to begin? Read on for some insights from Georgina Charles, the London recipient of our 2021 full scholarship!

What were you up to before Shillington/what do you currently do?

Before applying to Shillington, I had just graduated university with a BA in Creative Writing in the middle of the pandemic. Safe to say, my degree didn’t make me a hot commodity at the time and the fields that I had been looking into, mainly book publishing, are more competitive than ever. Every job description, no matter how unrelated, had a footnote saying, ‘Fluency in Adobe Suite is preferred.’ I had no chance!

Can you tell us what Diversity in Design means to you?

Diversity in Design is giving a chance to a whole new section of people who want to be designers but don’t have the time or means to do a three-year degree in it, or come to Shillington otherwise.

Shillington gives technical and industry knowledge that you just can’t learn from Youtube tutorials, and then you’re ready to step into a new career in a matter of months. My hope is that it specifically leads to more visibility for non-binary and female people of colour in the industry. As part of the course, we have to do research into famous designers and their influence. I asked the teachers if they knew of any British black female designers that I could look into and they initially drew a blank.

The next generation of legendary designers will be super diverse because of opportunities like Diversity in Design.

What impact has this scholarship had on your life and career?

Well, I can apply to all those demanding entry-level roles with confidence now. Fluency in Adobe achieved! But my eyes have been opened to whole other paths now and turns out, a creative writing degree can be really useful in design! I’m still interviewing for jobs but the scholarship has changed me as a person as well. It brought me out of my comfort zone creatively and socially. I’ve gained a lot of confidence in my abilities, my taste and my future. I’ve met some amazing people and don’t feel like such an imposter anymore.

Why did you want to study design and what made you decide on Shillington?

I didn’t think I’d ever formally study Graphic Design and therefore sort of put a career in design to the back of my mind. I love making art, I would design book covers for stories I wrote and tried to make good-looking social media posts for uni and work but I didn’t take myself seriously and was just bumbling through it. When I saw the post for this scholarship, I was actually looking for a job. However, at that point, I’d applied and been rejected by every creative entry-level job that I could see myself being happy in. This was the perfect chance for me to change my luck.

Tell us about your creative scholarship submission.

My entry was a comic about a wizard in a grey world who goes to Shillington and learns how to put colour into everything around them. It’s cringe dialed up to 11, but I kind of love it. I looked through the past entries that won scholarships and everything was very intimidating. I saw some really impressive videos and zines and handmade projects and thought that there was no way I could measure up. But I like to draw, and I didn’t see any comics amongst the winners. I was like, hey, I can do that.

How did it feel when you won?

I was in a state of shock. It was 6pm on the day they were going to tell the winner that they called me. I had already made my peace with being passed over, but when they said that they all loved my janky little comic I nearly cried. Things like this don’t happen to me.

What would you say to someone who’s thinking about studying at Shillington?

If you want a challenge and you want to change up your life, this is it. If you could give one piece of advice to someone starting at Shillington, what would it be? Brace yourself! It’s such a whirlwind of learning and creating, make sure you make time to catch your breath.

I would say definitely socialise with your classmates, take good care of all your notes, and don’t struggle in silence! I had a lot of mental health struggles while I was studying and the teachers were amazing. They made accommodations that I needed and assured me that no one gets left behind. You’ll be in good hands, don’t let that keep you from applying or asking for help when you need it.

Do you think the skills you learned during the course prepared/are preparing you for the design industry?

100%. I wouldn’t think twice now about applying for a creative role. I’m confident in what I know and I think I could hold my own in a design studio. I think the confidence they give you is the most valuable thing. We did so many briefs, pitches and presentations that communication becomes a strength. It’s something I would never have experienced if I’d carried on being self-taught.

What inspires your design aesthetic?

I’m still learning about design trends past and present, so every new style I come across changes how I create. I’ll let you know when I find my forever aesthetic but, for now, everything, everywhere, all at once!

We’re opening up our scholarships again this year what advice would you say to someone working on their scholarship application?

Get a little crazy with it. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself and just do what you do best.

I don’t think what you submit has to be particularly beautiful, but it should tell a story and show your personality. Let the judges get to know who you are!

Want to apply for this year’s Diversity in Design scholarship and mentorship scheme? Apply here!

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