Hannah shares her journey as a Graphic Design student at the University of Cumbria. Hannah reveals her early inspiration that sparked her pursuit of graphic design, her reasons behind choosing the university, and her favourite aspects of the course. Hannah has decided to stay in Carlisle and establish herself as a freelance designer!
What or who inspired you to get into Graphic Design?
I initially joined the university as an Illustration student since I studied Fine Art at A-Level, however after giving it a go for a term – I found that it wasn’t quite for me. Luckily, the two courses were taught side by side so I could easily transfer to Graphic Design alongside the support of my tutors. Once I had transitioned into the world of typography, I was hooked!
Why did you choose to study Graphic Design at the University of Cumbria?
I looked at many different creative courses at universities across the country. Ultimately, I found myself continuously returning to the university's course page for Graphics and Illustration. Originally from London, I wanted to travel far away from home to see what career I could make on my own and figure out who I wanted to be as a creative. When viewing the campus and surrounding area, I got the impression I would have the freedom to discover exactly that.
What did you enjoy the most about your course?
I really enjoyed the wide range of projects we were given. From web design to experimental typography and sometimes even the complete freedom to re-design an entire company. Alongside design-based projects, I also enjoyed the visits from current working designers who we could meet and ask all about their design journey – this was super helpful in giving us an idea of how the industry we were about to enter into looks like today.
What was the most difficult obstacle you overcame in your student journey?
The COVID-19 pandemic certainly threw a spanner in the works, as all my first year and some of second year was taught either online or socially distanced on campus. I was stuck in lockdown, in student halls, not getting to know my classmates or tutors all too well. However, before beginning my university journey, I hadn’t so much as opened Photoshop, so this did give me the opportunity to start to learn Adobe Creative Cloud (I’m still trying to learn it all right now)!
Can you tell us about your display at the Degree Show and what inspired your creations?
I chose to display not only my term project work, but also some freelance work I’d completed during the term, such as work with Tullie House and Well Suited CIC, however I focused mostly on my editorial work I’d completed that year since it was what I was most proud of.
As one of my final projects, I’d created a Gen-Z targeted small magazine named WASTED which focused on how to avoid food waste for new students and young people learning to cook for themselves. I’d included self-directed photography throughout, so I used the messiest eye catching image I’d taken to draw people’s attention.
What advice would you give to others that want to get into Graphic Design?
I’d encourage anyone to just give it a go! Having started from square one, to now becoming a freelance graphic designer, I know that anyone can do it. What helped me was figuring out who my inspirations would be across the industry. This helped me massively with my motivation and acted as some great reference points along the way. I would also recommend creating friendships and contacts early as there are loads of brilliant people, not only in Carlisle but across all Cumbria, who help you out massively along the way, whenever you need it.
How was university life beyond your studies - friends, socials, Carlisle accommodation/travel etc?
Luckily for me, during my first year in halls, I had made a great group of friends that made lockdown a lot easier for me despite being far away from home. And it’s quite ironic that I’ve now gotten to know so many of my classmates so well and people across the courses when we’re all graduating! When you delve into it, Carlisle really has a great creative community all around and inspiration everywhere. I’d definitely recommend having a good poke around – even after three years of living here, I’m still discovering new kooky parts of Carlisle that I had no idea existed right around the corner.
Top tips for people looking to get into Graphic Design?
Building a good portfolio is important to show the range of skills you possess, but not every project needs to necessarily be from a real client! Creating your own ‘passion projects’ at any scale is a great way to show off the skills that you’ve honed or want to show off on social media that a client or project hasn’t given you the opportunity to show yet. Sharing your work across all social media is a brilliant way to get your work, name & face recognised and for potential clients to gauge your style and see your skillset – so show off what you can do!
How has the course prepared you for your future career in the working world?
Towards the end of my third year, we had the amazing opportunity to work with Phil Scholey of Crooked River Brewing Co, who came into the campus studio to give us a live brief to design a can for the release of their new craft beer ‘Nelson Sauvin’. This was a great experience and for many of us, this was our first live brief from a real client. It was great to see what we could expect from a serious brief. It offered us insights into the behind-the-scenes process of creating a project from concept to physical design with a company and how our designs would be used in the real world. It was a scary thought at first, but super exciting to think people all across the UK would see our designs!
What motivated you to start your freelancing career in Carlisle after completing your degree?
By the end of my university experience, I saw that I had created a community of my own – with friends, contacts, and creative people all around me that I didn’t want to leave and start all again someplace else. With the encouraging help of Vincent Walden, Creative Director of Studio Walden and fellow designer with Isle Studios, I’ve found lots of exciting work and projects right here in Carlisle! Vincent graduated from the University of Cumbria back in 2016 – check out his Alumni story here: Vincent Walden.
Can you give a brief overview of the services that you now offer?
I am now a designer with Isle Studios and a freelance designer based in Cumbria, which includes creating any advertising material, branding such as logo design, implementation social media, design tasks such as catalogue or magazine design, business cards and web design.
Hannah preparing her display at the Degree Show 2023
Hannah Dady & Jessica Gibbon (Project Directors) at the Degree Show 2023