We spoke on 16th September 2020
Hi, Shelby thank you for allowing me to interview you! You recently graduated from the University of Bolton with first-class honors. Are you proud of that achievement?
Of course, It was no easy feat, and anybody who knows me knows how much I stress about minor things, so it was a long and stressful journey but worth it completely. I know that I worked as hard as I possibly could for my grade, and for that, I will always be proud.
Do you have any advice for students who are studying for a graphic design degree?
I guess I would say to experiment, play around, don't be afraid to have fun with it. Don't just stick to what you are used to, some of my best work came from doing things outside of my comfort zone. If you keep yourself in the same box you will never grow. You will always be stuck to the confines of the box you put yourself in.
Alongside that, take breaks if you feel that you need to, don't burn yourself out.
Your major project was based on voting within the youth demographic. Is this something you feel strongly about?
I think that being involved within your democracy and your future is very important, yes, and I think that a lot of people just brush it to one side and think that they do not matter. It is something that needs to change, especially within the youth demographic, but other than that the project allowed me to express myself creatively and really play and have fun with my major project, which I greatly appreciated.
I noticed when listening to a Chinwaggers podcast that you started leaving positive notes around Bolton. You started an Instagram account for this. Tell me more about this, how did you get started?
Notes Of The North is kind of a social commentary project that I started in between my first and second year of university. This mostly got started due to a decline in my own mental health, and a want to do something creatively away from my university work and freelance projects. I was trying to fix my own mental health problems and I soon realised that If I needed to hear certain things, then other people likely did too. I began posting them around Salford Quays, and eventually expanded to other areas such as Bolton, Cheadle, Manchester City Centre, and more.
Initially, the notes were all about mental health and having a positive mindset, however, they soon grew to talk about other topics such as race, discrimination, injustices within society and even elements of pop culture. The Instagram page was a way in which for me to communicate with the audience that would be seeing the notes, which worked out very well and I have had a hugely positive response. I took a break away from the project throughout the third year, and then the pandemic happened - so now I am just waiting for the right time to start it all back up again.
For my final question, what is next for Shelby Smyth?
Good old job hunting! It's scary, especially given everything that is going on in the world right now, sometimes it seems like there is nothing out there, but I’m powering through! I’ve been taking on a few freelance jobs and Illustration commissions to keep me going creatively, and I’m also working on setting up my own online store, selling prints, stickers, and bits of stationary which is something that I have always wanted to do!