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Study Design Abroad: Ana Pérez, Mexico to Shillington New York

A tale of graphic design dreams, a passion for branding and a creative journey to the heart of New York. Shillington New York graduate Ana Pérez originally studied Architecture, intending to eventually migrate to other fields of design—after being discouraged from pursuing pure graphic design. But throughout her studies, she began to develop a renewed passion for branding, one she couldn’t resist. Today she has her own branding studio, based in Mexico. 

Ana discovered Shillington’s full-time course and knew it was what she needed to realign her creative career. Read on to find out more about her branding studio in Mexico, her time at Shillington and more!

Why Shillington? What made our design course stand out from the rest?

Design has caught my eye for as long as I can remember. Since I was young, I have consumed original brands, objects with beautiful packaging, and books with unique editorial designs. The quality of the product or content was secondary to me. However, when choosing my career, I realized graphic design was disdained in Mexico, so I decided to study architecture, knowing that I could later migrate to any other type of design with greater ease. Throughout my studies, I began to develop a passion for Mexican branding firms and their work. The day I graduated, I dreamed about combining my enthusiasm for graphic design with my knowledge and taste for architecture.

To achieve this, I did research on various courses and diplomas that would allow me to learn and work professionally as a graphic designer. When I discovered Shillington, I immediately knew that it was the right choice, the perfect school to develop the fundamentals and expertise. The duration and intensity of the course and the graduate testimonials really made it stand out from the rest, but what definitely convinced me was the promise that no two days were going to be alike, and they certainly weren’t!

I graduated with a design portfolio that covered many graphic design ranges, competitive technical skills, and a sneak peek of what the professional world looked like. I could not have taken a better step to start my career as a multi-skilled graphic designer.

Recently you opened your own design studio! How did that come about?

I finished the full-time course certificate at Shillington in December 2019. I returned to Mexico convinced about joining the branding firms that had inspired me to study graphic design. As I was applying and preparing my CV and portfolio for the firms where I wanted to work, I realized I had already created a solid client base.

Considering my career in architecture, I saw a lot of potential in combining the two branches that I had studied. I knew that I wanted to create brands from start to finish, from the creative branding concept to the interior architecture design of that same business.

I realized that very few firms offered full service, so I called a talented friend from college who specialized in commercial interior architecture. We decided to create a studio that would provide added benefits and be a unique branding option.

Can you tell us about what you get up to at Anécdota? We’d love to see some of your work!

We have been fortunate enough to work on many different projects with extraordinary clients and innovative ideas. For the time being, branding, which is my favorite, has been our most popular service. We are currently exploring the editorial side of design, developing a cookbook written by women entrepreneurs who have prospered during the pandemic. For us, it was a great honor that they sought us out. We’re working on several projects, and each one of them is unique! A mezcal brand, a jewelry store, a photographer’s brand, a law firm, and a traditional Mexican candy brand. You’ll soon be able to check them out on our website and social media.

What is the best thing about having your studio? Is there a favorite project you’ve worked on to date?

My favorite part of having my studio is that I can design freely, with the creative brief as my only limitation. I also appreciate my involvement in every step of each project since we have a small team.

Therefore, I have evolved in design, client contact (which makes each project special), and communication with printing companies. The latter has allowed me to learn about different papers, techniques, and printing processes, a topic that we only glazed over at Shillington. This experience has been unique and highly enriching, its most important lesson being that I still have so much to learn.

So far, my favorite project has been Lucile, a women’s brand of innovative lingerie. Based in Mexico City, Lucile offers functional, stylish, and elegant solutions for any dressing challenge that inspire women to feel confident in their nudity and encourage them to love themselves inside and out. The clients gave us the freedom to develop a creative concept with great force, allowing us to have a coherent, strong, memorable graphic proposal that was different from what the competition was doing. It is a project that makes me very proud as a designer, and I look forward to expanding the Anécdota portfolio with unique ideas like this one.

What do you love about being a designer?

I love the fact that I’m immersed in a creative world from sunrise to sunset. No two days are alike! And there is always, always something new to learn. It is also incredible that I can capture a part of who I am as a designer and as a person in each project, which helps me grow and get to know myself better. I love checking out design blogs and seeing how other creatives approach different projects and the artistic process. The creative world pushes designers to think outside the box, to explore different ideas and perspectives, but furthermost, to never stop learning.

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

I had just finished my degree in architecture, but I knew that something was missing. I zeroed in on my fascination with graphic design firms, so I decided to expand my studies to work on something that genuinely moved me, leading me to New York and Shillington.

What was your biggest challenge during the course? Why?

My biggest challenge during the course was overcoming my analytic, organized mindset. I have a very structured, linear, you could say geometric mind.

The teachers constantly pushed me to challenge the rules and get out of my comfort zone. I think that’s why Sydney insisted that I include a punk magazine editorial design in my portfolio. I knew from the brief that I had to break the rules, and I loved the result!

Whenever I design, I think about which design rule can be broken and how to break it so that the result is functional and creative.

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

I did! One of my favorite things about the course was that I made friends from different worlds with distinct experiences and perspectives. I was able to learn from their opinion, taste, and passion, and I loved it. We also got along great as a group. Instead of competing, we would push each other forward.

Every day I woke up excited about attending Shillington, which I know was motivated by my desire to be with my fellow students.

I left with solid friendships, many with whom I keep in close contact. I hope it remains that way for many years to come.

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

My favorite brief from the course was boutique packaging! By raffle, I had to design a soap package for architects, which was a fun coincidence because I could base the design on my own experience. Since everyone knew I was an architect, I strived to create something outstanding. The inspiration for the brand was a fictional story of soap with hypnotic powers discovered in Ancient Rome, which enhanced the imagination of creatives in the 21st century. The pattern and name of the soap result from the union of the architectural element discovered by the Romans, the arch, with the artistic movement of visual art.

Where do you see yourself in 12 months?

I would love to work on commercial projects in a year, such as restaurants, stores, or hotels. These would allow me to do the entire branding process and architecture to demonstrate the two branches’ strengths when working as a team. I certainly hope to continue meeting interesting people with unique and innovative ideas that push me to explore my creativity and continue my learning process.

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

Don’t hesitate for a second! I am convinced that it is the most complete course to learn graphic design without studying the entire BA, and it is ideal for a career pivot.

Every brief was enriching and full of valuable lessons. To this day, I haven’t felt intimidated by any of the projects that have come to Anécdota Studio. On the contrary, thanks to Shillington and the creative process we’re taught, facing each new project is a welcome challenge.

Shillington gives you a taste of what it would be like to work in the field and prepares you for the world after graduating.

In addition to offering excellent training in design and technique, the relationships you create with other students are exceptional.

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

Enjoy the process! I can’t tell you that there are no days of stress or frustration, that everything is perfect on the first try, far from it. But I’m sure that every second at Shillington has something to teach. Take advantage of the plurality of ideas you will encounter in the course because, in addition to the friendships you will foster, they will contribute to you as a designer when you leave Shillington. Make the most of it and remember many would love to be in your shoes, like me. I wish I could relive that unforgettable experience, but it’s your time to shine.

Big thanks to Ana for sharing her experiences with us! We can’t wait to see where her creative career takes her. Check out more of her work on her Instagram and website

Inspired by Ana’s story and would love to study graphic design abroad? Learn more about Shillington’s 3 month full-time and 9 month part-time courses On Campus in New York, London, Manchester, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Or become a designer from the comfort of your home with our Online Course!

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