Since graduating from the college, BA (Hons) Graphic Design alumni Sam Hulbert has built up an inspiring portfolio, boasting work with Coca-Cola, Nestle and Purina, she is also the creative behind our graduation design this year.
We caught up with Sam to find out what she has been up to since she graduated, her role at digital agency Sponge UK and her advice for new graduates...
Hi Sam, what have you been up to since you graduated in 2015?
When I left Plymouth College of Art I did an internship in London for a month with a shopper marketing agency and got to work with some big brands such as Coca-Cola, Nestlé and Purina. I really loved working in London but found it really expensive especially for a junior. I moved back to Plymouth where one of the major benefits is a better work-life balance, and luckily the college careers team kept in contact and sent me jobs that I might be interested in.
I was recommended for a role at Sponge UK, the largest custom digital learning provider in Europe. The company creates elearning, interactive video, animation, learning games and virtual reality (VR) for global brands such as the United Nations, Coca-Cola, Tesco, AXA and Krispy Kreme. I applied for the job and was delighted to receive a job offer. I’ve now been working in the company’s Visual Design team, based at Plymouth Science Park, since January 2017.
"I like to plan a project from the beginning; research and inspiration is a must."
I was surprised, and very pleased, to find a Plymouth-based role in design, particularly in such a creative company. Many of my fellow graduates left the city after completing their studies believing that jobs in graphic design only exist outside of the South West.
There are a lot of misconceptions about Plymouth but these creative jobs do exist provided you look in the right places. The city is growing its reputation as a digital technology hub, meaning that graduates are increasingly likely to seek and secure jobs in the region. Sponge is proud to be growing a global business using local talent and I’m proud to be part of supporting my birth-place to be a sustainable and prosperous city.
You created this year’s graduation design, how did the role come about?
I’ve kept in contact with quite a few people at Plymouth College of Art since I left back in 2015, signing up with both the college Alumni Association and the in-house design company The Agency. They’ve been great at keeping me up to date with what is happening in and around the college and the city.
When I received an email from The Agency regarding the branding brief for the Plymouth College of Art graduation I was really interested in working on it. I started the project back in August and am really happy with the designs we have come up with. The Agency has been brilliant to work with and it’s going to be amazing to see all the designs at the ceremony in November.
It was with help from The Agency that I developed my portfolio for my interview at Sponge, which ultimately meant I got the job, and I am really pleased to say I still receive offers of freelancing work through them.
Can you talk us through your design process?
When I was studying I remember being a very disorganised designer and I’d often leave work until minutes before the deadline, which would drive my lecturers crazy! This all changed when I entered the real world of work. Deadlines were much shorter, and I soon realised I had to become much more organised.
Now I like to plan a project from the beginning; research and inspiration is a must. I’m lucky to work at Sponge with lots of talented designers, illustrators, animators, developers, and videographers. I get a lot of my inspiration from collaborating with them on a daily basis.
"University is an amazing experience, but there’s nothing like a placement or internship to give you an insight into the world of design."
What are the main things you took from your time at the college?
Get as much experience as possible! I wish I had the opportunity to do more work experience, placements, and internships. The amount you learn, in even a short amount of time, is invaluable. The lecturers do encourage you to do it, but it’s something that you also need to really push yourself to do.
Although you do learn a lot at college, entering the real world is a totally different environment and that’s where I found The Agency came in useful. They provided me with real-life projects to work on whilst I was at university. I got a feel of what it was like to work on real work, and not just coursework.
Do you have any advice for new graduates?
As I’ve previously mentioned, gaining experience in the real world is vital, even if it’s doing a week’s work experience somewhere. And don’t feel like you have to move to London; there are lots of opportunities in the South West. University is an amazing experience, but there’s nothing like a placement or internship to give you an insight into the world of design.