Q & A with graduate Oliver Brooks
In 2021, Oliver Brooks completed a UAL Level 3 Extended Diploma in Creative Practice: Graphics, Illustration & Game Arts at our Pre-Degree campus, achieving a Distinction and specialising during his studies in branding, motion design and type design.
During his time with us, Oliver was selected as the winner of our Design Aesthetic Award for his work. After completing his studies, Oliver beat nearly two thousand other applicants to secure an internship as a Graphic Designer working with Sound Designer Yuri Suzuki at the world’s largest independent design agencies, Pentagram. Now splitting his time between Devon and London, we talked to Oliver about how his time at Plymouth College of Art helped him to achieve his dream role, which he manages to fulfil without leaving the South West.
What did you do before joining Plymouth College of Art?
I worked at a restaurant, first as a kitchen porter, then as a sous-chef. I learnt the art of fine cuisine whilst working in the smallest and hottest of spaces in a high-pressured environment. It instilled a strong sense of discipline and taught me to think tangentially whilst working against the clock.
I first understood the importance of colour and design through food. I learnt to see everything as design, from the Japanese Santoku knife I used, to the balance, pattern and colour harmonies in the presentation of different dishes.
How did you find studying with us in Palace Court?
Plymouth College of Art was very warm and welcoming; design people are the very best! It allowed me complete creative freedom, offered great support and opened my eyes to what is possible in Graphic Design. The facilities are outstanding; having access to all the different technologies helped bring my ideas to fruition.
During my final project, my tutor, Jack Bishop, encouraged me to explore Typography, which led me to discover the work of Fatih Hardal and Yūsaku Kamekura. Although previously, I had focused purely on branding, both Hardal and Kamekura's work spoke to me in such a way that turned my attention to type design. Hardal's perfect balance of classic and modern, with Kamekura's use of colour and form, together with his disruption of the grid, turned my perception of design on its head.
Inspired by Hardal and Kamakura's work, I challenged myself to create a typeface that utilised Japanese Calligraphy with Modernism. My first attempts failed, though with each failure, I learnt so much about what does and what doesn’t make good type design, distilling communication into its simplest form. As a result, I achieved a Distinction and received the Plymouth College of Art Design Aesthetic Award.
What would you say to anybody considering Pre-Degree study?
Plymouth College of Art encouraged me to explore many different areas in design and gave me the confidence and self-belief that I was on the right path. I would recommend Pre-Degree study at Plymouth College of Art to anyone wanting to further develop their skills and knowledge in design.
How did you manage to land the internship at Pentagram?
After completing my Diploma, I continued to teach myself type and motion design independently, which led me to create a typeface, 'Neverland', featured on Behance, generating over a hundred sales. I further developed my social media presence, building strong relationships with designers online, which led to a collaboration with Tobias van Schneider where I created a custom type featured on his album cover 'Demon Dance'.
Last September, an internship with Sound Designer and Pentagram Partner Yuri Suzuki was advertised. The previous collaboration with Tobias van Schneider gave me the confidence to apply. After a three week interview and a very deep dive into 3D and motion design, I beat nearly two thousand applicants and secured the post.
Pentagram is the world's largest independent design consultancy. Are you managing to complete the internship while still living in Devon?
That’s right. I live just outside a small village called Aveton Gifford, by the River Avon, which leads to Bantham beach. I work mainly from home with an occasional commute to the Pentagram offices in Notting Hill, London.
What’s it like working at Pentagram?
It’s a dream come true. I'm surrounded by the very best, producing work of the highest quality. The diverse practises and approaches have taught me so much about different ways of seeing and thinking about the world. A day can involve anything from UI, UX, 3D and editorial designs to how best to express the shape of a sound. I find it incredibly exciting to be part of the genesis of an idea, watching Yuri's imagination take flight, problem-solving with the team, to refinements and launch.
What sort of projects have you worked on?
I've worked on a number of exciting projects that I can’t mention because they haven’t been released yet. One project I helped develop with Yuri Suzuki and the team is the Global Sequencer, an online sequencer that collects, samples and plays back sounds from all over the world.
Users are able to record their own sounds and upload them to the globe for others to listen to. These sounds then make up the core library for the sequencer and are used to create intricate rhythms and global patterns.
Sounds that users upload appear on the globe in the location they were recorded. These sounds can be browsed freely and explored. As 2021 has been a difficult year for many, with travel and movement still restricted by the global pandemic, the Global Sequencer aims to bring us together by creating an interactive experience with sounds shared from all over the world.
What do you plan to do next?
As my internship comes to an end, I'm planning to visit Switzerland (the birthplace of my favourite typeface Helvetica) and Japan - to immerse myself in their design aesthetic, which I feel holds the perfect balance of minimalism and functionality.
I also plan to build on my portfolio, deepen my practice, and most importantly, experiment!