7 ways to make the most of your graduate show

Design legend Neville Brody offers his top tips on how to shine during your degree exhibition.

For design and illustration students around the world, your graduate exhibition is a chance to show the world what you can do. For a lucky few, the end-of-year degree show will result in a job at a top studio or agency.

Discover five things your portfolio must have

So how do you shine brighter than everyone else in the room? The key is not to be afraid of failure, says Neville Brody, founder of Brody Associates and dean of the school of communication at the Royal College of Art.

Here, the iconic designer shares seven top tips for making the most of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity…

01. Engage your public

You don't work in a vacuum. People are going to look at what you do. Learning to navigate and negotiate that curation experience is crucial – it's about understanding that touchpoint of engagement.

02. Embrace failure

A tutor's advice is just that. You could grow more by not following advice and learning from a mistake. It's fine if you try something that doesn't work. Failure is a very important part of this process.

03. Shows aren't exams

A show and an exam are two different things. With a show, you won't be doing the same introduction and explanation for every passer-by. It has a very different function.

04. Powerful presence

Being by your work is a small sacrifice that makes a big difference. If someone wants to discuss it and you're not there, you may just get forgotten. We tell our students to be with their work as much as possible.

05. Overall environment

A show is also an installation, so think of the whole environment as part of your presentation. People hardly ever read captions. They may look for your name, but most aren't interested beyond that. Take-aways are far more important. (Here's how to make the perfect take-away.)

06. Change things around

It can be demoralising if people don't stop at your work. But there's no right or wrong way to do this, so experiment with it. I encourage people to change the work or installation during the show to see if something else works better.

07. Follow it up

I have employed people from shows before, but it's the follow-up meeting that's really important there. More than anything, a show is an opportunity to learn more about your own work.

Words: Anne Wollenberg
Illustration: Nicolas Menard – one of Computer Arts' highlights from RCA's 2014 graduate exhibition

The full version of this article first appeared inside Computer Arts 241, on sale now.

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