Tuesday, 5 May 2009

TOO MANY DESIGN GRADUATES? - Otto Detmer & Ben Jones

Dettmer, came to Stockport College to give us a talk about his work, I have always been inspired by the simplicity and communication of his work. He has done a lot of self-promotion to get him where he is. 

'As a Graphic Artist he like to push the boundaries of graphic expression. With the books he creates a series of images to form visual narratives. In this context Detmer can experiment free from the constraints of commercial pressures. Although the books are for sale, it is not profit that motivates him.

The contents of the books deal with mythologies in contemporary culture, such as consumerism, work-ethic, self-destruction. The work is screen-printed, ink-jet printed, or photocopied.'

I sent him a question about his view on success and failure for graduates in the design industry.

"what makes the difference between success and failure when trying to establish yourself in the design industry?"

I think it's a mater of doing your best with all jobs, being tenacious, keep on developing your practice.


Detmer was very short but straight to the point with some his answers regarding the questionnaire I sent out, but the developing you practice Is an issue I have heard being talked about quite a lot. If your promoting yourself, constantly, this will also develop your practice in the work and keep you open to design issues and what is about within the industry. I think most people leave college/ university and wait for people to call them. It's not the case anymore, maybe in the time Salisbury was talking about, as there less Illustrators and so more jobs going. and newspaper jobs run daily, they need to have someone fill the gap. With promoting yourself again, you keep your options open.


Ben Jones, an ex-graduate who has been working in London for the Guarding and produced work for the Drawbridge newspaper, was also talking to me, and encouraging me. I asked if he had any advice about how to initially get yourself out into the wide world from University, in relation to the way he went about it as he left college, what did he learn?

He told me, to always be developing work, atleast a new image everyday, a drawing, a sketch, a juxtaposition of medias. You not only begin to form an archive, like Paul Davis for example, who is working as an Illustrator; but is also the art Editor of the Drawbridge newspaper for London, but you begin to sometimes have a different approach to working, because of whats going on around you, you wont necessarily adapt to a style of someone else, but he told me, the majority of Illustrators had two styles. This could in some way give you more of an advantage to getting a commission, being able to adapt to a brief.

With the knowledge of Ben being an ex-graduate, I thought to have a range of opinions not so much from different fields, but where they are now, whether or not these practitioners would suggest alternate approaches because they are all in separate areas of illustration somewhat. Ben has recently come back to Stockport college to teach for a few days, He has gone from being an established Illustrator to teaching. 

I asked him about this also, and why he did not just stay working in London, he said that sometimes it gets hard, you don't always have jobs no matter how much you promote yourself, you still have to equip a part-time job on the side to be able to pay for rent of studios etc. The upside is that your doing something you enjoy!

Following the visit from London and a few questions when he joined us at Stockport, I further sent a mail over to him with a few brief questions regarding my practice in Illustration and the design industry. Again, I asked the specific question to get his view.

"what makes the difference between success and failure when trying to establish yourself in the design industry?"

Acting on things! Try to always be creating new work, contact people, get your work in front of people. Art directors need to see your work before they can commission you. Some times that means going to London to show your folio or posting work out, emailing ect. Try not to rely on the internet tho as there are allot of illustrators out there with websites so art directors wont seek out illustrators you have to show them what you can do first before they commission you.


Again, self promotion, but, when I was in London, I learnt of an Internship that goes on every year, in which, either one or two students has the opportunity to go to London and work with Big Orange studios, and Art Director Andy Pavitt. You have chance to produce work for a real commission and also another big chance to show your portfolio round, this enables you to make more contacts in your time there, and if the job is successful, you also have a piece of design work under your belt. Cheryl Taylor, as I've learnt was the first of the college graduates to get the opportunity, she now works for SYNERGY agency and is a full time designer. 

I was asking Ben who is close friends with Cheryl what made her so successful going from University to becoming a designer, and he said it was due to the contacts made while she was in London on her internship, she made the most of the opportunity. There is also that chance that you may gather contacts from other people working around you, I suppose this is an advantage of working around people in a studio, being able to bounce ideas of one-another. Obviously you cant persistently share contacts because then the other person wouldn't have them but being in a place where illustrators like Andy Pavitt and Paul davis have been working for agency's and have contacts they then can offer there advice on what you should be doing there and then. An internship in my opinion, is one of the biggest chances you should get if your leaving university, I almost see it as a stepping stone.

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