When the Computer Arts team paid a visit to the Shillington College final-year show back in July, besides the free beer we were particularly impressed with the work-readiness of the graduates - especially given the rapid-fire three-month duration of the courses (or a year part-time), rather than 3-4 years of continuous, explorative study on a traditional uni course.
It's much more focussed on real-world briefs, taught by practicising designers - and by all accounts pretty intense. This route might not be for everyone - and it's much more about solving particular problems than experimenting to find your personal style, or studying the history and influence of design - but the quality of the work coming out of the college really does speak for itself. As part of of this year's online Graduate Showcase we've chatted to four of them in a bit more detail...
With a previous life as a project manager at the BBC, Francesca Tortora studied part-time at Shillington with support from a Print Futures Award. "I already have a first-class BA in Music from Leeds University, but working in creative learning for the BBC stimulated my interest in graphic design," she explains.
Since starting the course she has worked as an in-house designer as part of her most recent role at the BBC Performing Arts Fund, as well as for a range of freelance clients across the arts, media and charitable sectors.
"Formerly a printer, I spent a lot of time making agency artwork print ready," explains Ray Smith. "I always thought I had an eye for what looked good on a page, so I really enjoyed this part of my job - so much so I decided to change my career."
Smith opted for the part-time option - although admits he ended up working every night and every weekend. "It paid off, however, as I left with a really strong book and was hired as an in-house designer four weeks after graduation," he grins.
"After years of trying to make it as a self-taught graphic designer, on the side of my day job, I finally admitted defeat and went back to school," begins Richard Loveday, who also opted for the one-year part-time option at Shillington. "I always used to jump straight onto a computer and push pixels around for hours - now I've learnt the importance of things like thumb-nailing, research and the rules of design - and when it's ok to break them."
"I'm one million times the designer I was this time last year," Loveday concludes. "I worked harder than I ever have in my life - I stopped sleeping, eating and seeing my girlfriend to produce a portfolio that won me the Best Student Award."
"I took a bit of a wayward path to a graphic design career," confesses Shanelle Clay. "I did a Marketing degree and started off as a corporate writer for an engineering firm. I was really lucky in my first job to work alongside a team of graphic designers who were kind enough to teach me the ins and outs of InDesign and Illustrator, and after that I was totally hooked."
While Clay had initially planned to study at Shillington in her home city of Brisbane, Australia, she settled in London after a few months backpacking around Europe, and enrolled on the part-time course. "Shortly afterwards, I started working at Profero here in London," she explains. "It’s been a great experience, and I’ve had the opportunity to get my feet wet working on digital projects for some big name clients."
To see all the entries in Graduate Showcase 2012, select Graduate Showcase (opens in new tab)