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Meet Sam Fraser: Sydney 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 Sam Fraser, the Sydney recipient of our 2021 full scholarship!

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

Before Shillington, I was working as a Content & Community Manager at a digital agency, which entailed lots of copywriting and creating thousands of design briefs for the studio to bring to life. Now, I’m still working in social media in a similar role, but am a lot more involved in the creative process, doing a bit more design work, creating stills and animations for socials.

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

Diversity in design is so important! It leads to much more interesting, creative, empathetic and innovative design that just hits different.

From my experience of working in a creative field, it’s always so exciting when other people bring themselves into a project and a small idea becomes something much bigger and more meaningful. Without it the world would be a much much MUCH more boring place.

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

Studying at Shillington has already had a huge impact on my life and career!

I have gained a ridiculous amount of skills since starting the course. Being able to work across Adobe Suite and Figma has meant I can do more design work in my current job and confidently put myself forward for more creative opportunities. I’m big on prioritising joy and the projects we work on in and outside of class have been so much fun! It’s also been quite empowering to receive advice and support from our teachers, and meet super talented and creative people.

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

I chose to study design because I really wanted a career change where I could be challenged and flex my creative muscles!

Why Shillington?

Shillington produces world-class designers and creatives, and I wanted to be one of them!

The intensive, fast-paced approach to design education excited me. It’s such an invaluable opportunity to be taught by industry professionals in a small class setting. And leaving with technical skills, an understanding of design theory and creative principles, AND an industry-standard portfolio—how good!?

After spending countless hours surveying Shillington’s website, socials, student projects and admittedly, stalking past students on Instagram, I was super excited by the prospect of studying at Shillington!

Tell us about your creative scholarship submission.

I wanted to create a short video, but do something a little different to a face-to-camera video—mainly because I’m too awkward for that.

I still wanted to show my creativity and personality, so I made a video of a text exchange between me and a friend from their point of view. The messages were essentially my panicked stream of consciousness about whether or not I should apply for the scholarship, how it will impact my life, what I could do for the creative submission, etc.

How did it feel when you won?

I was shook! When the phone rang within an hour of the interview, I’d assumed I was that bad that it was an immediate no. So it was a big confidence boost and really affirming.

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

Do. It.

You really have nothing to lose and everything to gain. It’s a rare opportunity to do such an intensive, fast-tracked course, learn from the best of the best, and work on exciting briefs. I’ve been so surprised to see how the conceptual and technical creative skills I’ve gained at Shillington have enhanced both my work and life as a whole outside of design.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone starting at Shillington, what would it be?

Can I give two?

  1. Take breaks! Not only is it super important to avoid burning out, but a lot of the time I’ll find inspiration when I’m not actively searching for it and am doing the most basic things, like going for a walk or doing a grocery shop.
  1. Don’t compare yourself! Everyone is on their own journey and they’re just as insecure as you and if they’re not, they’re lying. This mightn’t actually be true but if you say it to yourself enough times, you’ll soon believe it and create even more uninhibited work which is always fun.

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

100%. Being entire self-taught prior to Shillington had its limitations, so it’s been invaluable to gain hands-on experience, receive feedback from industry professionals and be pushed creatively.

Separate to the practical skills I’ve learnt, my confidence as a designer has also improved by working in such an empowering learning environment with super supportive teachers and creative people to bounce ideas off of.

What is your dream job—post-Shillington?

I have about ten dream jobs!

But to summarise it, I really want to work at the intersection of art, music, fashion, publishing and pop culture. In the short-term, I would love to work at a design firm so I can learn even more and work on all sorts of projects, from branding, to print, to digital to way-finding and more. I’d also love to work alongside music artists in design and art direction and work on the creative for album rollouts, i.e. album art, posters, shoots, music videos, social assets, etc.

What inspires your design aesthetic?

I’ve been told my design aesthetic is “edgy and techy.” I also looove minimalist designs and lots of white space.

But design is limitless, so I try to find inspiration in everything. Despite scrolling Instagram and Pinterest for hours daily, I tend to pull most inspiration from the things I’m constantly exposed to, like music videos and album art, packaging in grocery stores, design books, magazines and art exhibitions.

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

You can learn the skills when you start classes, so focus on showing how passionate you are about design and your ‘why.’

As for the creative submission, I think the best pieces of design feel that there is a human behind it. Don’t be shy, show some personality.

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

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