Shillington Melbourne graduate Hannah Veikkanen is proof that you have to actively go after the job of your dreams. Co Partnership wasn’t looking for a Junior Designer, but after a gutsy e-mail and a memorable (!) interview … she landed a job at her top choice studio in Sydney.
Today we chat with Hannah about getting crafty, challenges in packaging design and why she decided to study at Shillington.
Tell us about working as a designer at Co Partnership. How did you land the gig, and what’s your day-to-day like?
I stumbled across Co Partnership not long after Shillington finished, and fell in love with the work they were doing. I thought it was a long shot as they weren’t looking for a Junior Designer, but I sent them through my portfolio of work and Zoe (my absolutely amazing boss of a Creative Director) got back to me asking if I would like to come in for an interview the following week. Now, during that time, Zoe had started her own little dog sitting business of sorts and was expecting an adorable puppy known fondly by the name Frankie. Midway through my interview Frankie arrived, the interview proceeded, Frankie took a dump on the carpet, and now I’m part of the Co family. It was the most memorable interview I’ve ever had, ever.
Co Partnership is a really amazing and inspiring place to work! I am surrounded by a close knit team of ingenious and extremely talented Senior Designers every day.
I am always learning from them and every single day is different and challenging in its own way.
I could be working on design concepts for drop dead amazing briefs (seriously AMAZING), or little jobs like copy changes, back labels, business cards, mock ups, retouching etc.
Co Partnership is best known for drool worthy packaging. What do you love most about packaging design?
Even though I’ve been dipping my toes into the packaging design world (although I think I’m now a bit further dipped in than my toes), I have come to love quite a lot about this industry. It’s challenging, interesting and drenched in psychology. It’s pretty cool having the opportunity to design for a product and see it go from just a visual concept to an actual physical thing that you can hold and feel. Another thing I love about Packaging Design, is working with illustrators. Giving them a detailed brief and seeing them interpret it and work their magic. There has been some really beautiful projects lately that feature amazing illustrations (watch this space! i.e the Co Partnership Instagram/website).
What’s the most challenging project you’ve worked on so far at Co Partnership?
Definitely the project we’re all working on at the moment. I don’t know how much I can say… but I am definitely learning a lot about my method of working and coming up with concepts. It has been a really great learning process for me, and I am starting to have more confidence in my brain and design eye.
You’re a big lover of traditional crafts. Tell us about your personal projects, and if they’ve found their way into any of your work.
I am indeed!
I love getting dirty with paints or swamped in fabrics. It’s in my blood!
My dad is a crazy Finnish man who makes guitars, chairs, tables, now a canoe (?), and my mum used to make clothes for me and my dolls when I was little. There’s just no getting away from it. At the moment the only personal project I am on right now is binge watching Stranger Things on Netflix. However I am 1/6th through a new tapestry and have a big pile of leather on my desk in my apartment that I have big vague plans for. Unfortunately my sewing machine didn’t move with me, so a few of my projects are on hiatus at the moment until I can seek out a new/old sewing machine. Don’t you just love an honest answer though!
Before Shillington, you studied Textile Design, How do you think that informs and enhances your skill set?
I studied Clothing Production straight after college, and then Textile Design after that. I was so convinced that my life was destined for fabrics, weaving, printing and patterns. I thought for sure I was going to be a children’s wear designer, although that dream is still there somewhere amid a cloudy haze perhaps only to be remembered when I’m 83.
Textiles at the ANU in Canberra was very much focussed on being conceptual and experimental. It made me realise instead how much I wanted to make things that were functional and that addressed a specific need. I think all that conceptualising at Art School has informed the way I work, but I still know that I need to tone that way of thinking down so that a concept that I am doing for a product is made more accessible to a wider audience and isn’t going to be missed and overlooked.
Why did you decide to study at Shillington?
I left university feeling a bit confused about where I wanted to be heading career wise. I actually remember sitting in a car with a friend and the question of ‘realistic dream job’ came up. Although I had never even considered it before, I remember randomly saying I would really love to be a packaging designer (and I am totally being serious here), because I thought it would be so interesting designing for products. It sounds like I made that up because of where I am working now, but I kid you not! After three years in my textile degree, I wasn’t really happy with the direction I was heading, and so started looking at Graphic Design Degrees in Melbourne and checked out a campus in Wollongong that offered it as well. I applied at the Melbourne University for a Bachelor in communication and design and got accepted, but the thought of studying for another 3 – 4 years scared me!
Around the same time my boyfriend happened to be looking at the AGDA student awards that was being held in Tasmania, and there were a lot of finalists that had graduated from this thing called Shillington. He showed me and I was like “oh cool… but three months? That’s impossibly short.” I soon decided that maybe this is exactly what I needed, and so I moved to Melbourne a few months later and it was fantastic!
It is truly amazing how much you can learn in three months when the course in question is put together so strategically to maximise every single minute.
What was your favourite brief during the course?
I really enjoyed designing and naming the packaging for a chocolate product targeted towards a very specific demographic (mine was mum with a new born baby). I really love humour in work, and found this the perfect opportunity to embrace my naturally dirty/humorous side. Creating the story for this product was so so fun. My mind got to certain places where I would be typing something, and then realise what I was typing, and then realise that my copywriting skills had not gone unnoticed… Another favourite was the city branding brief, where I had to redesign Christchurch’s logo and flesh it out into a website design.
What’s the most valuable Shillington lesson that you’ve carried into your career?
It’s hard to say. I definitely think Shillington prepared me for working in a studio, and equipped me with a tool box of creative methods to come up with concepts/ideas. It was a really intense, stressful yet rewarding three months, that honestly if you are still somewhat sane by the end of it than you can probably achieve whatever else you set your mind to!
Any tips for design graduates on the job hunt?
Finding a job in design is hard work and also very soul destroying, but that is nothing new right?! Put time into the portfolio you send to agencies, and make sure you have a rationale for every design decision. You should already have a reason for everything as to why it’s there! But make sure you remind yourself of what that reason is. Also, even if an agency doesn’t have a big bright red banner up saying they’re on the hunt for new designers, don’t assume they’re not. They might just not like big bright red banners.
Anything else you’d like to share?
“If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.” – Sir Ken Robinson
Don’t worry so much about making mistakes, getting things wrong, putting too much paper in the shredder that it gets jammed and you then spend about an hour trying to get it unjammed without breaking the thing. Because really, at the end of the day, you will have learnt that the shredder should only take six pieces of paper.
Thanks again to Hannah! If you want to land your dream design job like her, consider studying design 3 months full-time or 9 months part-time at Shillington –> www.shillingtoneducation.com.
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