With a desire to be a designer, but no experience to enter the industry or time to return to University, Theo Witrylak enrolled on the part-time course at #shilloman. His hard work over the nine months paid off and he’s now working full time for Manchester digital agency, Great Fridays.
Theo shares his extensive list of inspiration sources—ideal for when you’ve hit that design block, gives his thoughts on the design scene in Manchester and discusses his plans for the future.
What made you want to apply to Shillington in the first place? Was the course what you expected, did anything surprise you?
I wanted to become a designer, which was a complete change in occupation, but had no experience and didn’t want to go back to university, so Shillington’s course seemed to work perfectly for me. Once I attended an open day and saw the consistent high quality of past portfolios, I was sold. It was what I expected; comprehensive and always interesting. The things that surprised me were the guest lectures, which were amazing, and the huge amount of great reference and reading material, both physical and digital, that were available.
You studied on the part-time course at Shillington, why did you choose this option over the full-time course?
I studied on the part-time course as I needed to be able to work to fund my decision to learn more about design. As I was working multiple jobs, the course’s structure meant I could realistically take on board all the information I was being taught, practice and improve my design skills at home as well as have time to get further design inspiration. Winner.
What were the main things you learned on the course? How well did you feel the teachers prepared you for the real world of the design industry?
The consistent application of design principles, realising ‘the problem’ and finding its solution as well as the methods of idea generation and concept development. The teachers prepared me really well; their wealth of experience, their insights into technical and creative subjects and their opinion and knowledge of design (past and contemporary) was the best thing about the course for me.
Who do you work for now and what does your job involve? How did you go about getting this job and how much help did you get from the college?
I work for Great Fridays as part of EPAM as a Visual Designer.
My job involves working as part of a team in taking client problems and creating the best and most effective solution, focussing on visually communicating that design.
I was contacted by my employer who had come down to the graduation show and had seen my portfolio. The course leaders were amazing at helping, they put me in contact with loads of people who they knew were either looking for designers or they thought I would work well with. Other than that, there was lots of information and advice about getting work once we reached portfolio time and even after the course had finished.
How have you found entering the design industry in Manchester? Do you feel that it’s a good city to be a graphic designer?
It’s definitely been an eye opener in both good and bad ways and while there seems to be this background conversation about the ‘South to North’ shift,
I definitely think there is already some really great and creative design coming out of Manchester, with diverse sources of inspiration to fuel that creativity.
Where do you look for inspiration—any pointers for our current students when they’re struggling with their research?
While there are obviously a lot of design specific blogs and sites; Visuelle, BP&O, Brand New – Under Consideration, Haw-lin, Oculto, Design Everywhere, Another Mag, Formagramma to name a few—unsurprisingly, looking outside of design is probably the richest source of inspiration. I’d recommend going out to galleries and performances, watching films daily through Mubi, reading the ‘Very Short Introduction to…’ book series and Phaidon focus and monograph series’. Also travelling and cooking, basically all the usual things!
Where do you see yourself in five year’s time? Have you ever thought of flying solo and setting up your own studio?
Difficult question, there are so many different types of design work I’d like to do! This is probably a cliché, but ideally I would like to be using design to try and solve bigger problems, creating solutions that have a positive effect on people and are conscious of global problems. Whether that is by myself or with a studio, I don’t mind, but I think it’s pretty important to find people who are like-minded to work with.
And finally, what advice would you offer anyone thinking about applying for a design course at Shillington?
Do it! The course leaders were brilliant, it is an amazing and inspiring environment to learn in and they also have biscuits around break time.
Thanks to Theo for taking the time to answer our questions, check out his website for more work!
We’re holding info sessions at our Manchester and London campuses later this month, visit our website for more details or get in touch directly in you have any questions. Our next intakes for 2016 are in April and September.