New Designers: A Student Perspective

2013-06-25 16.09.05

Setting up the show at New Designers Part 1!

I’m not long back from New Designers Part 1, and to be honest I’m still recovering.  If you’re going there to exhibit, you know that it’ll be big (3,000 new graduate designers from the UK’s top universities and colleges, big), but that still doesn’t really prepare you for the size of it, the energy, and frankly the astounding work (both in terms of quality and sheer volume) that you’re confronted with.

It’s exhilarating, exhausting and to be honest, sometimes infuriating, and you feel like you’ve just got a handle on all of it when it’s time to pack up and go home!

So, what did I learn from it all?


And I’m going to share some of the things I’ve learned with you.

And… we’re… open!

  1. Know what you want: Seems self-explanatory, right? But, often we’re much better at knowing what we don’t want rather than what we do. Be clear about what you want to achieve from the experience then go all out to get it.
  2. Plan, plan and plan again: Is there a particular group you want to see your work?  Then invite them along! Send them an invite a week before the big event. And make sure you get yourself out there! A few weeks before your big day get blogging, tweeting and promoting your work.   As the buzz grows, so does your confidence.
  3. What are your future plans? Ok, ok, not many of us can say that we actually know where we’re going to be in five years’ time, but make sure you have an idea of where you want to go, because you will be asked! Would you be willing to diversify your work? As an example, many of the jewellers from DJCAD were approached by card manufacturers on the basis of their sketches and illustrations.  I was approached about … Christmas decorations! Wonderful opportunities abound – are you open to them?
  4. Don’t judge a book by its cover: This is an important one. Because you never know who you’re speaking to.  That scruffy person might be the person who owns the company that you’d chop your right arm off to work for.
  5. Be friendly and talk to as many people as you can: Some of the most interesting conversations I had and contacts I made started with a simple “hello”.  Remember, people don’t always know what they’re looking for and a friendly face can make a huge, positive, impression and make people remember you and your work.
  6. Don’t dismiss people on other stands: When I was exploring the exhibition, I tried to start up conversation with some fellow exhibitors whose work I liked.  Sadly, one or two, on learning that I was also on a stand, decided to cut short conversation on the basis that I “wasn’t a buyer”. Tsk tsk! Apart from it not being very professional, you never know who you’re talking to and where the connections you make might take you – from work, to collaborative projects, you name it!
  7. Know you audience: New Designers is a bit of a strange fish in that it’s a huge creative marketplace but it has a very commercial focus.  And if, like myself, you are taking work from your Degree Show to an event like that, that perhaps isn’t commercial per se, you’re going to have a different experience to many of your peers.  My advice: know where your work will sit in the world! What could you do differently that would make your work  more accessible? In my case, it was providing options for alternative finishes for my work.  Showing that you’ve thought about these things shows a well-rounded approach to your work and future career.
  8. Be conscientious in your follow-ups: You have cards, you have contacts, so follow them up!  A polite and friendly email will remind people that they’ve spoken to you (because they will most likely have spoken to a lot of other people too!) and will provide an opportunity for further contact. And who knows where that might lead ;)


One Response to New Designers: A Student Perspective

  1. Pingback: So, what have I been up to? | Eloko

You must be logged in to post a comment Login