Once upon a time an Illustration final year student could sit by their work at a degree show and wait for the offers of work to roll in. Times change and so do the methods that graduates employ to seek out work opportunities.
During July my BA [Hons] Graphic Design students from the University of Brighton were kicked out of New Designers Part 2 at The Business Design Centre! Why? For daring to challenge the blandness of the exhibition and creating an installation that was both creative and thought-provoking. A large cardboard box was placed in the middle of the floor area of our designated space from out of which poked a very attractive 1970s Radio-Rental wood-effect TV monitor. A looped video of the students enjoying their own private view two weeks earlier at the college played whilst a second box contained invitations to another private view at The Truman Brewery of their "real" work just across town in Brick Lane. The students used the opportunity at New Designers to create some interest and stir some emotions. New Designers did not see the funny point and we were asked to leave for being "too creative"!
Recently another creative opportunity was snatched by Illustrator, Marion Deuchars. After making a number of trips to Havana, Cuba and having produced lots of drawings, sketch books and photographs Deuchars decided that they deserved a wider viewing. Understanding a potential audience is a key factor in creating an opportunity and so she approached The Independent on Saturday Magazine’s Art Director, Gary Cochran. Rather than do what most would be content with, Deuchars cheekily mocked up the cover of the magazine with her Cuban images and created a number of spreads that utilised her work as well as her own text. The result; an issue in print within weeks that looked like the magazine had commissioned Marion Deuchars to write and produce images especially for them but also looked not unlike the original dummy she had created as the catalyst.
If you look carefully at the credits for some recent editorial illustration featured in various colour supplements the name of the artist begins with www. and ends .com - another opportunity recognised and acted upon. Why just be content with showing the work commissioned on the page? These artists are leading potential customers to their on-line portfolios and picking up more work based on the extra insight to their creative world that this new opportunity promotes.
What can we learn, what can we piece together from these examples of "Creatives" harnessing creative opportunities? As educators, we have a duty to encourage students to actively seek chances to create opportunities. Students must be taught to be more proactive, take more risks and recognise the potential in an idea. Getting ejected from an exhibition for being "too creative" is far more beneficial than sitting passively next to one’s work in the vain hope that the right job will just come along!
Lawrence Zeegen Course Leader BA [Hons] Graphic Design BA [Hons] IllustrationUniversity of Brighton July 2000