Tips for getting a job at a top studio

Universal Everything creative director Matt Pyke reveals what he looks for in a new graduate.

Matt Pyke is a UK-based media artist and designer working between the Peak District and London. Formerly a senior designer at The Designers Republic, he founded multidisciplinary design studio Universal Everything in 2004.

The studio has an impressive portfolio of progressive projects that harness new technologies and have attracted numerous global brands and bands, including Radiohead, Chanel,Intel, Nike, Audi, London 2013 Olympics and more.

However, for studios like Universal Everything that work in interactive design, generative design, experiential design and CGI – not to mention the companies working in web design and mobile technologies – there is a perpetual skill shortage.

As Pyke notes: "There's long been a shortage of code-based designers and ideas-led motion graphics designers. We struggle to discover these people and often turn to Japan or America to find the talents we need."

Here, the leading media artist and graphic designer explains what it takes to impress him – and what he looks for in a new graduate…

Matt Pyke founded Universal Everything in 2004

What do you look for in the work of a new graduate?

Firstly, they should be honest and well-researched, and they should be passionate about their careers. Secondly, I look for immense ambition, attention to detail, a distinctive visual style, idea-led concepts, and a clear understanding of what is it they are saying with their work. Lastly, an inventive spirit not bound by clichés or trends.

What do you think design schools should be prioritising in their teaching?

They should be looking for inspiration beyond the design bubble. Creative thinking is about being inventive and smartly tailored to a specific need when approaching a problem. Getting caught in trend feedback loops is merely following a recipe that doesn't add value to the client or the wider world.

Also, an appreciation of time management – working smartly within constraints (budget, format, time) – does not hinder creativity, it forces one to become inventive within the given boundaries.

What are strong and weak points in the make-up of recent graduates?

A strong point is that they are often multidisciplinary, i.e. they can mix film, projection, structure and design. Their weak point is their lack of ambition when it comes to production finesse.

You've been quoted saying you don't feel constrained by not knowing how something is done. Is this a policy you would advocate for students?

I'd strongly encourage more osmosis between different courses and university departments. Collaboration is key to building something greater than the sum of its parts. Work with experts who can do something better than you.

Words: Adrian Shaughnessy
Opening image: Forever at the V&A, Universal Everything

This article originally appeared in Computer Arts issue 232, a design education special packed with insight, inspiration and behind-the-scenes access to the world's most exciting creative minds.