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Meet Vanessa Low, Shillington Graduate, Digital Marketing Officer & Freelance Designer

Working in the museum and gallery scene in Sydney, Vanessa Low realised she needed to upskill, and began looking for a course that would allow her to expand her creative practice and career opportunities.

After completing a Bachelor of Art Theory, Van’s love of art led her to a career in the museums and galleries of Sydney. But whilst working at the Australian Museum, she became intrigued by the work the designers did. She had all the ideas, but missed the skills to bring them to life—in came Shillington! The perfect medium between a short course and a comprehensive university degree. Read on to hear more about her dynamic role at the Art Gallery Society of NSW, freelance life and advice for anyone thinking of studying at Shillington.

You previously studied a Bachelor of Art Theory at Uni, but decided to further your creative education at Shillington. What made you return to study and why did you choose Shillington?

My love of art led me to work in museums and galleries. However, whilst working at the Australian Museum, I was intrigued and inspired by the work that the designers did. I’ve always had creative ideas but not the hard skills to bring them all to life. I asked around about courses;

I wanted something more comprehensive than a short course but I definitely didn’t have the time or energy to undertake a whole new university degree. Luckily, a few friends recommended Shillington!

You currently work as a Digital Marketing Officer at the Art Gallery Society of NSW, as well as freelance on the side. Could you tell us what a day-in-the-life looks like?

I’ve just started working at the Gallery and my main focus is bringing the stories of our art and programs to life online. I do this primarily through social media—I’ve got lots of ideas of how we can grow our visual communication and content in the future (watch this space!). On my freelance days, I am usually shooting content with clients, or designing and editing from my study at home.

What were you up to before Shillington? Why did you take the plunge and enrol?

I was working in exhibitions and admin at the Australian Museum, and doing freelance photography and writing on the side. I really wanted to learn new skills that would enable me to broaden my creative practice and potentially work in different industries (I love that almost any industry or niche can benefit from design and visual communication). The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. Studying design would open a lot more avenues for me.

How did the course build your skillset?

The course gave me the theoretical background, design thinking and hard skills that I needed to become a fully-rounded designer

In addition to learning how to use design programs, like Adobe Creative Cloud, I really appreciated learning about research, developing ideas and communicating with others.

What was your biggest challenge during the course? Why?

Juggling work during the day and studying at night. The course requires serious dedication and you get out as much as you put in. It was important to dedicate time to work on the briefs and homework.

Did you make any meaningful connections with teachers or fellow students during the course?

Absolutely! Some of the people I met in the course are now my very close friends. Being with like-minded, inquisitive people and sharing the experience of learning together was really invaluable. Continuing to talk to people along their design journeys post-Shillington has also been really useful.

What was your favourite brief on the course? Tell us your process!

My favourite brief was rebranding an existing business—I chose Aeroplane Jelly! This brief gave us the freedom to explore a full campaign rollout: I styled and shot the photographs; reworked the logo and branding; designed packaging; rolled out advertising; and planned an app.

What would you say to someone who is skeptical about the Shillington course?

Talk to past students and look through interviews (like this one!). If the work you see excites you, then this could be the right fit.

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

If you’re doing the part-time course, make sure to dedicate time to exploring your ideas and learning outside of the classes. Give yourself the space to explore and feed your curiosity. Your unique perspective is what will make you stand out as a designer, so listen to those intuitions and take note of what makes your style different from others.

Big thanks to Van for sharing her creative journey with us! Make sure to check out her website and follow her on Instagram!

Like to follow in Van’s footsteps? Learn more about Shillington’s 3 months full-time and 9-month part-time courses Online or on-campus in New York, London, Sydney or Melbourne. 

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