The question 'How do you get into the Creative Industry?' has been asked over and over again, usually around graduation time. I'm sure there are a thousand different answers, but the reality is that there is no hard and fast rule.
The usual answer is a personal account of the author's journey, which I can certainly do, as well as give my spin on what would help you to get a job at DesignStudio.
How important is it to go to University, which course should I study?
It's not important at all if you're talented and can understand design. I've never asked a single employee which University they went to in order to make an assessment on whether we should make them part of the team. I know really talented designers that haven't been to University. I've also never been asked in my time before DesignStudio if I've been to University. It's all down to the how creative that person is and their attitude. If you're not good enough creatively, but have been to a great university, I don't care, it's not going to work. When I say creative, I don't just mean you can tweak a piece of type to look great. All style and no substance doesn't work. I look for creative thinkers and they need to be able to translate that thinking into beautiful concepts. Believe me, there are few people who possess both, and those who do, whether or not they went to University does not matter.
What are you looking for in a candidate?
After establishing that the candidate is a great creative thinker, with equal design ability, there is simply one more attribute that they require. A good attitude. I remember we once had an intern who was producing great work, and it looked beautiful, but it came hand in hand with an attitude that he was owed a career. Aside from turning up late, he would sigh at any job he thought was beneath him. At the end of his placement, I took him into a meeting room to discuss his time at DesignStudio, as we do with all of our interns. I asked him how he thought it had gone and I gave him my appraisal, which initially commented on the quality of his design work. It was good. I also made it very clear that I would never employ him. His attitude was terrible, he wasn't owed anything by anybody and no matter what he did after this internship, I would never change my mind. If someone has this attitude during a time that they should be trying to impress, then it's inherent. Being creative is great and at DesignStudio you are going to have to prove that you're pretty special to be considered, but I would align the attitude to be equally as important.
Is there a lot of talent out there?
Not really, it's a small percentage of the design community that I would consider talented. It's not that there is a dearth of creative talent, but there has always been a small percentage each year that you really consider to be the 'talented ones'. In London especially, once you're in the pool you begin to notice the same names popping up time after time. A great designer you worked with at X Agency will move and take a role at another good agency, or will start their own agency. Any designer who makes it into this circle will soon notice how relatively small the community of good designers is.
For me, I always felt that it was all about doing more than the other candidates, being better, more creative, having better ideas and having a good working mentality. I knew that I had to be prepared to work hard. This model doesn't just apply to design, it applies to any industry and your input will directly reflect on how far you want to go. Personally, I always wanted to be the best at everything. I have a really competitive streak, my business partner even jokes about it. This certainly doesn't mean that I am the best at everything, in fact, if anything, I know there are people a lot better than me. I don't look for competitive people, I just look for people willing to give it everything, people who will work together and when it calls for it, people who are happy to get their hands dirty, do whatever is necessary to deliver the best. Is this person going to take a brief, or a request, and not only deliver it, but push it as far as it can go? Are they going to show me the possibilities rather than the obvious?
So I guess it boils down to two things - great creative talent and the right attitude. If you have both of these, I can guarantee you a job, but don't take for granted how good you have to be, there will always be someone right behind you, equally as good, willing to go further and try harder.