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Welcome to rachelsays... The blog of Rachel Lewis, containing my thoughts and musings on illustration, design, fashion, music, cakey-bakey goodness, culture and things that I generally find cool. There's also a good chance my own illustration work will pop up on here.

All work on this blog is copyright to me unless I state that it isn't. Obviously. Don't do stealing, kids.

So come on in, have a look around, and leave a comment if you like what you see.
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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Immersion 2010: Sessions 1 & 2

A couple of weeks ago I started a brand new course at St Martins, called Immersion. It's a short, one day a week course aimed at design (any discipline) graduates needing help and advice getting into the industry/where they want to be. In a nutshell. It's really varied and has loads of advice, everything from time management and planning to nuts and bolts of setting up a business. There are tonnes of different people there from all disciplines and walks of life, some graduated like me, some wanting to change their career direction etc. I decided to do it because I felt that after Uni I missed having that support network of creatives, I wanted to meet new people to network and collaborate with, and also to help define me and my work and what I want out of my career; not as a tool just for getting a job/placements etc in the short term, but I want to use it to help me build my career from the foundations and assess what I want to do, the kind of company I want to work for/if I just want to freelance, or if, as I have found out, I want to do both! It's about realising your dreams and ambitions and making the most of yourself and your career. Good stuff.

I've been a bit slack about blogging about it because I've been so busy and putting it off because I know it involves a lot of typing. But I want to record the process and it helps me to validate things in my mind if I assess and write about them, out loud. That's why I've decided to do public blog posts about them; it's mainly for my benefit but if anyone wants to read about the course and what I'm learning about myself as I go through then go for it :)

So the first 2 sessions were 2 consecutive days and were really intense. We had a guest speaker who runs the Digital Health Service, so is going to be with us throughout the course, talking about his journey and the mistakes and triumphs he has had to get to where he is.

The things we focused on for these sessions were aspects like:
Values - What's important to you
What you can offer

ne of the main things we focused on was Environment. We had to do an exercise where we visualised exactly the place/space where we ideally wanted to work; what it looked like, sounded like, where it was, was it with other people or on your own, things like that. It's sounds like a really obvious thing to do but actually doing it was quite enlightening. For some people (like me) it solidified things they had an inkling about, for others it completely surprised them and made it clearer about what kind of work they needed to look for. I realised that:

'I want to work in a place that is full of creative, like minded people, not necessarily all of the same discipline, fairly young, let's you get on with it but still there for help if you need it. Focused environment that encourages hard work but also play, social aspect, music in the background. Separate desk spaces, not too precious, with messy areas. Basically a place with people; I've realised I don't work so well isolated on my own. This could manifest in loads of different ways, including a design studio with similar attributes to this, all working together. '

Even though an aspect to what I do (or want to do) is freelance, I've realised I don't have to sit in a darkened loft all my life. I thrive on company and creative healthy competition and the right dose of pressure. Whether that comes from working within a design company or just sharing desk space with other creatives is the thing that is negotiable; and not mutually exclusive throughout my career, I want different things at different times and just because I have or want one doesn't mean I can't have the other in the mid to long term future. Right now I think I need a stable, full time, creative job that will get me settled financially, socially and creatively. But this is approaching 'Priorities' and that's another session :)

We also talked about Values and what our values are and how they should affect your working lives. Things like 'what do you value most' to ethical/environmental/moral values. Kind of similar the the graphic design First Things First manifesto where they agreed not to work with morally dodgy companies, asking yourself if you are the same? If a massive company asked you to do some work for them for quite a lot of £££ but you know they're a bit ethically dodgy and don't treat their foreign staff right or don't trade fairly etc etc, would you take the job because financial security is valuable to you? Or not because you don't want to be associated with a company like that? (even though someone else somewhere will take the job anyway). All open-ended questions to make you think, defo. I still haven't solidifed my values as of yet, we do more work on them in later sessions. Initial values for me are companies/clients that are:

'Social, ethical, fun, reliable, unique, individual, conscious, ambitious, forward-thinking, progressive'

Critique and Feedback
Interesting points made were that you don't always have to accept feedback - if you don't want it. Everyone has opinions and that's great but sometimes you just need your own opinion, and if you don't want someone's feedback, that's ok. It's an interesting concept. Also the notion that throughout our creative lives so far (uni etc) we have been taught very well how to Critique work and pick the negatives in order to make it better. This is fine, but it was said that we also need to learn to pick out positives in ourselves more and look at what we can do, not what we can't yet. We then had to get into groups and talk about something we did/achieved which made us feel really proud and good about ourselves, and identify the skills used to achieve that thing. My skills that were identified by my group were that I am:

Good at researching
I follow ideas through
Have creative flow
A deadline achiever
A hard worker
Confident about my ideas
Able to communication ideas
A conceptual thinker.

Which was really interesting to see that written down by someone else. But there you go.

We then were encouraged to think about our ambitions - no matter how big or small- and articulate them. Realise that ambitions change, you may achieve something and everything then shifts to encompass new ambitions. Everyone should have one B.H.A.G - Big Hairy Audacious Goal, something that is so out there and ridiculous, but that you should aim for. Mine is to live, work, and be successful in New York. Not slum it at the start of my career, but really be established and make it and thrive, not just survive, in New York. Other ambitions are have may be more vague and also don't have a timescale as yet - this is something to be addressed in later sessions. In no particular order:

Form/Be a part of a Collective
Do what I love to earn a comfortable living
Inspire others
Be recogised for my accomplishments
Live in London
Be a design writer/commentator (random I know but I still love writing, haven't lost it since English A Level)
Design/work sustainably.

I definitely think these will morph, solidify and change throughout the course, and over the next year too as I start my career.

The last thing we had to do over these 2 sessions was choose 2 pieces of work and present them in a one minute speech to the entire class. Scary scary. This was about developing our 'elevator pitch' and getting more confident talking about ourselves and our work in front of strangers. It went quite well I thought, I hate doing things like that, I get really breathless and too excited and talk too fast, but people said I came across OK so that's good. I've never been a natural speaker and that's something I need to address. It was great seeing everyone's work though and a real ice breaker.

After the sessions we stayed behind for drinks (hurrah) and chatted amongst people. I'm enjoying that aspect of it the most actually; I wanted to meet new and interesting people and I really have, it's quite a journey we're going on so it's good to see other people in the same boat as you, with the same dreams and fears. Everyone is so different but I can already see there are people I'd want to keep in contact with in the future.

So that's sessions 1 and 2 - I'll do 3 and 4 in the next few days. Sorry for there being no pictures. Time to start using your brain, kids.

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