Wise Words

As the latest batch of degree shows come and go, Grafik asks six creatives what they wish they'd known at the moment of leaving design school for the brave new world of work.

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What is the one thing you wish you'd known when you graduated?

Sarah Boris

Graphic designer, art director and artist based in London running her own design practise.

Looking back now, ten years on from when I graduated from the MA in Graphic Design at LCC, I have no regrets on how things went. However, with a bit more distance and wisdom, I wish I had entered the professional world of a graphic design with a bit more industry experience and more varied internships. My work was quite experimental and sometimes borderline fine art. I had to work very hard to build a more complete portfolio with more conventional graphic design work that would help me land my first job. I was lucky to understand this fast enough and to find my first dream job quite quickly though. I learned mostly on the spot, the hard way sometimes, perhaps having to work three times harder than necessary to make things work well. As a graduate it's important to know you will keep on learning all the time even once you have left university. You need to be like a sponge, absorbing as much everywhere on the way.


Erwan Lhuissier
Partner at Julia

How to run a business. It is something we had to learn the hard way, with no point of references.

At the same time college did give us the space to be creative and I wouldn’t want this to have been any different. There is a certain naivety that we carried away from college that probably allowed Julia to be the way it is today. If anyone wants to start a business right after graduating, just be ready to have a rough start and be patient. All I can say is that it is worth it.


Oliver Long
Designer at OK-RM and 2014 Kingston graduate.

I wish I was warned that I would have to fight for my ideals. It becomes tough after graduating in London, especially if you are not from an affluent background and hope to keep some form of integrity. It becomes about damage control – “Okay this week I will do that lame freelance job so I can afford to do that interesting unpaid internship”. You’ll define your own compass and have to recognise that things get easier with time.


Neil McGuire
Tutor, Communication Design at Glasgow School of Art, Director/Founder/Designer at After the News.

One thing I've noticed that designers and design tutors often seem to hold strong opinions on is whether, as a recent graduate, you should seek work with an agency or pursue the life of an independent practitioner. I can confirm, based on over ten years of ad hoc experience(s), that there is absolutely no right or wrong answer to this question. Do either. Do both. Do neither.


Nous Vous
A collective of three visual artists based in London.

It takes a lot of time, years in fact, to find your own direction, which is comfortable for you and suits your personal approach to work. Jumping in and conforming to a perceived 'way of doing' isn't always beneficial to you as an individual. This applies to the time it takes you to make work, the visual language you use, the relationships you have with collaborators and clients and the joy you take in producing work. Be comfortable with what you can offer and offer it with zeal.


Luke Tonge
Graphic designer and art director, currently responsible for Monotype's typographic journal The Recorder.

Every graduate hopes to land their dream job designing what they love, spending months on each project. The reality is many are quickly enveloped into very commercial and fast-paced marketing or advertising roles. I have no regrets about my career path because it’s taught me so much about myself – and the world – but I wish I’d known back then what I was about to get myself into.