Continuing education – why Shillington?


This post was originally posted as two different blog posts on my norwegian site, which can be found here:

We are bombarded with visual impressions every single day, every single minute. I´ve always asked myself: Why do some of
these impressions have bigger impact? For a several years I had wanted to gain more knowledge of visual communication.
My background is photo- and videojournalism, which are two key factors of visual journalism. I wanted to know more about
the interaction between visual elements, to tell our stories. I wanted to know more about the interaction between visual
elements, to tell our stories, not just how we produce visual communications that work.

In Norway we do not have many available options to study graphic design. In my city there is one course option at
Norges Kreative Fagskole. However this course is very expensive and I would have had quit my job or take leave for the
two year duration. An impossible option.

But by chance, I came across this ad:

There was an ad in Computer Arts that piqued my curiosity.

Learn graphic design in just three months!


Simple message, easy to understand. I was sold, close to immediately. But finding information about this course online was
not easy. No information in Norwegian was accessible, so an open day was my best option. After a visit at Shillington
Manchester I wanted to do this even more, hich led yo my next problem…funding.

The cost of the course depends on the choice of campus. It would have been a dream come true to study in New York, but both
New York and London became too expensive and not very convenient with small children. Travel, accomodation, insurance and
equipment used at the course costed more than the course for me. Accomodation for a family of four is not cheap, for instance.
My total expense would be £14,000.

So Manchester was the only option left, and there was only one big problem: To find accomodation for a family of four, for just
3-4 months. 99% of land lords in England have a minimum lease of six months. Miraculously, through advertisements in local
newspapers in Manchester, via, via, via, we came in contact with a couple who had a big house.
It turned out that they currently
lived in Stavanger!

So, April 2013 the adventure was about to begin.

Why Shillington? Why choose a three monhts course, no one in Norway had ever heard about?

Actually a good question. But for me the open day convinced me. They usually organize open days once a month.

The short version of what Shillington offers is: In just three months time you will receive far beyond a medium to good knowledge
of the Adobe software ((ndesign, Illustrator and Photoshop), good knowledge about graphic design, typography and colour theory.
All in a studio-like environment, working with the same principles as a ordinary design studio. Realistic briefs and deadlines.
After three months at Shillington, you will be able to make all the things you wanted to before, but you did not have the knowledge to do it.
And that is a wonderful feeling.

HermanMiller_02 When I chose Shillington I had never heard of the college. One ad, some google searces, and a visit to an open day in
Manchester = I was sold.
  This was just what I wanted. To learn more about how I could get my ideas from an idea to a finished product.  To learn more about the processes of graphic design and creative work. To see what other students been able to do in such a short amount of time was impressive. If they could, so could I!

flyem_final For me it it was circumstances that made me choose Manchester. Today I am grateful. Manchester graduates are really good, the college has a really good reputation which makes the graduates attractive in the industry. Several established graphic designers give guest lectures at the college. We had the pleasure of being inspired by Dave Sedgwick (Designed by Dave) and Benjamin Perry for instance.

The teachers, although not referred to as teachers, have high standards and are not old designers just wanting an easy job at the end of their career.  They are young, but experienced and hungry graphic designers who are passionate about their job and are updated on what’s happening in the industry. Our “teachers” were Sarah McHugh and John Palowski. Today McHugh is the UK director of Shillington.

The basic idea behind Shillington is quite simple: Andy Shillington ran his own studio and found that those who applied for a job often had fine portfolios, but they could not “work.” They were not used to the deadlines the market demanded. So he started a private college with an intensive course. I still think the indsutry in Norway will be a bit skeptical about a three-month course, but in UK and Australia the college and its graduates are attractive.

This is a promotional video from Shillington. It really sums up my impression as well:

What our students have to say… from Shillington on Vimeo.

I learned a lot during these three months. The last two weeks of the course was called portfolio-time, it was when they were selecting their best projects, making them shine, and then get them into your portfolio. During these two weeks you will feel the days are to short, with too few hours to spend with your computer. I survived, and I produced a portfolio that made me proud. My online portfolio is on this page.

Why is the visual part so important for papers and magazines?
I´ve already written this, but you can not repeat this too often: We are bombarded by visual impressions every day.
Everything around us.
And and everyone wants the attention. How can media stand out in this crowd of visual impressions?

Compared to a lot of other people in journalism, I am not very experienced. I´ve worked with photojournalism the last 14 years, and photojournalism is one of the main contributors of visual journalism in modern media. Along with graphics and typography, this is the traditional way to visualize journalism. Today videos are playing an important role as well.  Simultaneously Norwegia media are using less visual resources. More and more is about templates and boxes we put content into. We are now trying to fit the world into our templates, rather than adapt the boxes to how the world looks.

After nearly four months in England I discovered that presentation and design is far more important than we usually think, and far more important than many media executives today are willing to admit. To get our journalism out to the people, we still have to use the visual options we have. Photo- and videojournalism will still be the main suppliers of visual journalism, and then we have to wrap it in, and design it in a way that people want.

During the course we made lots of logos, posters, brochures and advertisements, rather than newspaper or magazine. So what? It is all about the creativity. It is all about the process. It is all about how do you present your message.

For me it is to still tell stories to our readers and viewers that is important, and it is more important than ever, that visual journalism will get more readers and viewers,  and excite them. But it is important to remember that the packaging is not everything. Journalism and content is fundamental, as designer Francesco Franchi says:

“If we do not have content, we can not have design”

Here is my entire portfolio from the printed PDF. Scroll down to browse through the pages:

Download the PDF file .

Some pictures from my stay:

A lot of people visiting @shillington_ MCR grad show last night!

Et bilde publisert av Lars Idar Waage (@larsidar)

Bye bye Arley Drive….. Et bilde publisert av Lars Idar Waage (@larsidar)

Done! #portfolio

Et bilde publisert av Lars Idar Waage (@larsidar)

Home to bbq meat from “own” business. Et bilde publisert av Lars Idar Waage (@larsidar)

Signed off! Now: Make the portfolio…. #portfoliotime

Et bilde publisert av Lars Idar Waage (@larsidar)

#homework Et bilde publisert av Lars Idar Waage (@larsidar)

Webdesign and airline identity student brief. #logo #identity #webdesign

Et bilde publisert av Lars Idar Waage (@larsidar)

First ever #packaging project. Et bilde publisert av Lars Idar Waage (@larsidar)

Phew. Innspurten starter nå. Programmet for de to neste skoleukene….

Et bilde publisert av Lars Idar Waage (@larsidar)

Friday and bank holiday weekend. Great start of weekend, end of week thanks to @sarah_mchugh13 Et bilde publisert av Lars Idar Waage (@larsidar)

Is til det engelske folk! #aftenblad17mai

Et bilde publisert av Lars Idar Waage (@larsidar)

Hipp hurra på skolen! #aftenblad17mai Et bilde publisert av Lars Idar Waage (@larsidar)

Jerk chicken Thursday!

Et bilde publisert av Lars Idar Waage (@larsidar)

One response to “Continuing education – why Shillington?”

  1. I loved Shillington & Manchester as much as you did!

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