Anna Roberts

We spoke on 7th August 2020

Hi, Anna thank you for your time, You are a Graphic Designer who recently graduated from Shillington College. What stood out about this college? And what made you choose Graphic Design?

 

Shillington College is very unique because if you go full time you only need 3 months to become a graphic designer. The quality of the design was of a very high standard, it is industry standard and it has a good reputation in the design industry so all this sold it to me. I had already been to university for 3 years when I was younger, I wanted a career progression but didn't have another 3 years to commit to a course. The college is also hands-on and in the centre of Manchester so I was looking forward to being immersed with creative people again. 

 

What made me choose graphic design? I've always had a creative streak, I started my career as a photographer then I moved into retouching. I worked for an e-commerce company and there were also graphic design duties. I kept coming up with the same problem, I didn't understand the design fundamentals and kept wondering what typeface to choose but didn't have an understanding of the reasoning behind why as designers we make our design choices.

After I was made redundant, I started to think about whether I wanted to carry on being a retoucher, there were less and less opportunities becoming available for an in-house retoucher and I realised it didn't challenge me enough mentally unlike how graphic design does. I had seen shillington college come up repeatedly when I googled graphic design courses over the years but suddenly, now seemed like the right time for the investment. 

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You mentioned in your ‘about’ section on your website that you wanted to explore ‘Hebrew Typography’ more. What has drawn you into wanting to explore this further?

 

I was brought up in orthdox jewish education where I learnt to read and write hebrew. When I started to learn the difference between sans serif and serif, it got me thinking does this apply to other languages too, like hebrew. The answer I discovered is yes. I also can speak a basic level of hebrew which is enough to get me around when I lived in and visited Israel. So it just got me thinking as I learn more hebew could this be something I also apply to my graphic design work. One interesting discovery I found, when looking into typography, was Israeli Typography designer, Liron Lavi Turkenich who combined hebrew (ivrit) and arabic words together to make cool designs, she calls the typeface 'Aravit' - Arabic and Ivrit. 

You also mentioned that you would love to work on a meaningful campaign that would make a difference to someone’s life. Can you explain a bit more about this?

 

I have said I would love to work on a meaningful campaign as my dream project, something that would help to make a difference in someone's life. Because I have battled with mental health over the years and have a diagnosis of aspergers syndrome,  I've always wanted to give back and help others in need. When creating my self portraits for photography a lot of them would be influenced by different stages of mental health such as anxiety or depression. The self portraits became my therapy and the response I got from them when posting them online was always positive, a lot of people could relate to them.

I am now looking at how I can use this in the graphic design world. I've always wanted to turn my experiences into something that can help others, that's why I run an instagram account, @aspoonfulofserotonin, aimed at poking fun but also being relatable for mental health. I do this through my love of memes.

 

You have a photography Instagram page which shows your beautiful photographic work. Are you planning to pursue this further? What do you enjoy more Photography or Graphic Design?

 

I'm always building on my portfolio for photography, at the moment I'm mostly doing it for fun, although I am still open for commissions. The last year I've made a group of photography friends who all enjoy street photography so that's an area I've been doing a lot more of because I can combine socialising, my love of Manchester city centre with photography. Now I'm looking into investing more in my graphic design career and I am hoping to work full time as a graphic designer. Although I'll never loose my love of photography and hopefully in a good job there might be a way to combine my skills!

You graduated from Shillington College at a really stressful and hard time, during the Covid-19 pandemic. How hard has it been to get new work? Do you have any advice for other creatives struggling to get work?

 

Yes I've graduated in uncertain times and honestly it's been one the hardest things I've done. It does seem all doom and gloom but you've got to learn to adapt. There has clearly been a change in the job market, there seems to be less jobs available and I'm noticing a trend in redundancy. My advice would be try and have fingers in different pies, think about going freelance for a bit, think about what skills can be done from home and what businesses are still doing ok during the pandemic. A few of my college friends have changed their plans and are pursuing freelance for a bit. I am too, while also looking what's out there in the way of jobs. 
 

As well as this Shillington have been very supportive and brought out a new mentoring scheme for a month after graduating. They had tutors from around the world, who looked at our portfolios and gave us areas to improve on, mock job interviews and general help with projects. There's also access to the alumni network which has been useful.