Inspiration, motivation, vindication.
Some ten years ago those were the things I was concerned about. I wanted to be inspired, to find the next big thing, to open my mind, to grow. Motivation to find a job, to make those around me proud. And vindication, to know my choice was right, to succeed, to find fulfilment. Then I stepped foot into University of Suffolk's Arts Building and those three tenets were met. They continued to be met, challenged, and strengthened throughout my degree. I hope they’re something you can identify with, regardless of your choice. For me, the choice was Graphic Design: it has been my life ever since.
The skills learnt at university, both technical and pastoral, are the foundation for any design career. They were an instant leg up. I started my first job a few days after graduating. Immediately I was able to have relevant conversations with my new colleagues. No need to spend time training in design discussion – I’d been doing it for three years already! Even the things I did need to learn were aided by the ‘learning how to learn’ mantra. Events and exhibitions (which may seem like a distant memory now) were a perfect progression. They put all the skills to the test in a fast-paced world. Suddenly designs I made were being erected around the world, for household names, governments, sports events, and brands I’d only dreamed of being involved in.
Since then, I’ve always been involved in the events world. From trade shows to conferences, exhibitions to business meetings. It’s in that latter world that I find myself in now. Although not a typical route, presentation design exists in a world where over 35 million presentations are given each day. That’s a lot of opportunities to make your mark. For me, in 2018 that was taking the leap to found Sixteen by Nine. Alongside my partners, we saw a niche for an agency dedicated to helping speakers give better presentations.
We’ve been fortunate to work alongside clients willing to join us on a creative journey. Meeting them at a high level, being able to discuss their goals and helping them to realise them. Injecting typically boring presentation media with a new life of creativity is the same as those projects I first I undertook on the Graphic Design course those 10 years ago.
It’s been a fantastic journey. Transitioning from employee to director, growing a business from the ground up, and fostering a creative environment have been challenging. However, what I keep coming back to are those lessons and approaches I was taught while studying at the University of Suffolk. Those of shared challenges are overcome together, knowing how to learn is more important than having the answers and that curiosity will keep each project engaging.
You can read more of our UniSuffolkMadeMe stories at www.uos.ac.uk/unisuffolkmademe