Hi again from Talk Shop!
This is the second chapter of our conversation with Shima Maher and Nicki Field. Clarisse led the conversation on the current design work landscape and the tools and skills that we should hone to graduate with confidence. Here is what she took away from it.
Clarisse – Roles and Visibility
With the diverse range of practices we have at the RCA, we then asked our guests what variety of roles they envisaged being available to us as Visual Communication graduates. We wanted to know how we could gain awareness of roles that were less obvious than the traditional Illustrator and Graphic Designer titles.
They immediately agreed on the importance of internships – that they provide insights into the diverse range of roles that exist. They allow you to see long term projects; they can help you figure out what kind of roles are out there, and what would fit you best. Nicki and Shima encouraged us to act as “sponges”: take everything in, talk to people and be open to what could draw your interest.
Visual artists usually have a more “build-your-own” role that crosses multiple disciplines. You could find that you’re best suited to a whole set of creative roles around design: project development, recruitment and representation, studio management… Additionally, having a good mentor to help point you in interesting directions is great.
Following this advice, they warned us to stay safe and not to jump with too many simultaneous projects, saying it is more valuable to understand the full process of a project’s execution, rather than have fragmented bits of learning. Nicki added that going for jobs in strategy or client servicing in other industries can also be an interesting route. Their main advice was this: do not rule out possible paths or opportunities too soon, keep open to different developments of your career. This can help to design your own role in the market.
Nicki and Shima also gave us some insight into the benefits of being represented by an agency in the UK or internationally. Nicki said that representation at Jelly is a real partnership. It’s about not being alone in this job. You’ve got a team of people to support you and back you up. They will take away some of the admin so you can focus on the creative work. That team can negotiate on your behalf and help you politely refuse the wrong kind of work.
Joining a roster of illustrators can also help build a sense of community. It can give you confidence, build your network and unlock opportunities. Jelly work on a commission basis, which means the more money you make, the more money they make. It benefits them to have you do well, and so they really have your back, because that’s really what their job is.
From Shima’s perspective in recruitment, it’s a slightly different process, but their goal is the same: to support and accompany you through finding the right work, and work on your behalf as a partnership. They provide coaching and collect feedback. Shima also added that they pay their freelancers weekly. They also represent clients internationally (in the US, the EU, Netherlands, Milan…) especially right now, when people are more open to remote working than ever.