Someone who doesn’t just think outside the box but gets rid of it completely

The graphic design industry (as well as the design industry in its entirety) is moving at such a fast pace, it can be difficult to keep up. There are so many things to consider. For example, how can we make a design or product sustainable?  How can we create something which conveys something powerful, meaningful, and relevant to the current climate?

These are a few of the many conversations we have to review, dissect and embed into the TICE Programme every year. As for TICE Explore, we do this by hearing from those who are experiencing the industry first-hand and equipping young people with the core skills required to progress.  

So, without further ado, here’s what we encountered on TICE Graphics Explore 2020 with 41 students from Boldon School and Jesmond Park Academy.

Designing Your Future

To kick off TICE Explore, students arrived at Apple Eldon Square to start the busy day ahead.

Arriving at Apple Eldon Square for a workshop on Procreate

Split into groups, one group went off with one of the Apple employees and received a very insightful #TodayAtApple workshop, exploring all the new creative features on the iPhone 11 Pro. They picked up some skills like controlling the phone using dictation and collaborating on documents with each other. A particular highlight for the students was learning about photo editing and how many fun editing features that are tucked away on the iPhone.

Exploring new features on the iPhone 11 Pro.

Meanwhile, Group 2 learned about Procreate. Each student was handed an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil and received a walkthrough of how to create digital artwork. They learned about the colour wheel, how to use grids, the variety of brushes as well as shortcuts available in the app. This was a moment where students were able to demonstrate their independence and ambition, as they created more elaborate versions of what they were taught.

Students having a go at the digital art skills.

Lastly, Group 3 went scouting for good shop window designs inside Eldon Square. This was a crucial task for all three groups as, during Explore stage day 2, they were to compose their shop window displays a brilliant way to experience primary research methods in the design industry.

Following this, the team made their way to Northumbria University, where they met two fantastic guest speakers.

Danni Gilbert, Sail Creative

First to speak was Danni Gilbert from Sail Creative, a design company who “work on projects with purpose, for clients that have ambition”. Her impressive portfolio includes the magazine, ‘Stand & Deliver’ and designing logos, posters and billboards for iWeigh, an activist company founded by Jameela Jamil. She gave an inspiring speech about coming of age and not knowing what you want to be. For a long time, she had imposter syndrome and the lack of self-belief resulted in working in a lot of jobs she did not enjoy. Danni summarised by saying, “Find something you love, and you will never work a day in your life”.

Lastly, she asked the students a very broad question, “what do you think makes a great designer?” There were many marvellous answers, some even surprised Dani herself.

“Not letting anyone discourage you based on your ideas”

“Someone who doesn’t just think outside the box but gets rid of it completely”

“Passion and personality”

The top three answers won some prizes made by Danni herself.

Our second guest speaker was Jack Mercer from Hedgehog Lab, a global digital product consultancy that designs and builds software for the world’s best businesses. He gave the students great insight into the opportunities they can find in the northeast and assured them they do not need to go to London to work in design.

Jack Mercer, Hedgehog Lab

After listening to both Danni and Jack, we all headed to our final destination, Orange Bus (now Capita Consulting). They are leaders in service and experience design, and their office in Newcastle embraces this. The team answered questions and gave a tour of the space which included consulting rooms, design studios and break rooms – all atmospheric, colourful and innovative to look at. It was pretty stunning and as expected, it left many of the students with a refreshing perspective and burning motivation.

Exploring Orange Bus (now Capita Consulting)
Meeting the team at Orange Bus (now Capita Consulting)

Getting Canny Creative

Then, of course, the UK lockdown approached and consequently, we were unable to go through with the plans for Day 2 of TICE Explore. But it felt silly to put a halt to the TICE Programme when we could continue to inspire at a distance. So, first things first, we headed to Zoom and caught up with some pretty wonderful people working in the design industry. This included:

James Dixon – Founder, Lines Behind Ltd. – Sarah Espino – Creative Designer, Mediaworks – Beth Millar – UX/UI Designer, 3T Energy Group – Alex Lockey – Design Director, Fueled.

A sample of the Graphics Interviews

I’ve always been interested in the digital aspects of design and how it is marketed, so hearing about that directly provided a lot of insight into how to not only get into that career, but what that career entails. It appeals to me due to the idea of spreading a message or company without direct advertising. It also includes and aspect of graphic design, so that also provides some appeal. 

Alexander Howe, Jesmond Park Academy.

The most interesting thing I heard one of the professionals discuss was how they got inspired and built up their brand. For example, James Dixon travelled the world and was able to find several artworks over where he visited but when he couldn’t find artwork that he liked he turned to the city around him and created his own. This shows how much your surroundings can influence you and that great ideas can stem from your experiences. 

Alika Clewlow, Jesmond Park Academy.

Using the breadth of information given by our guest speakers, students were then challenged with a few tasks…

  • A card that means a lot. This task was assigned by James Dixon, the founder of Newcastle design agency Lines Behind. The style of work James produces plays on Geordie slang, with ‘cards that make you smile’ being their brand message. As we are all aware, the NHS and medical Keyworkers were putting their own lives at risk to save ours. So, students were challenged to design a ‘thank you’ card for the NHS / keyworkers inspired by the work of Lines Behind.
  • Research a design agency. Now, this was less about the design process but more about making sense of the industry. But this is exactly why we wanted to challenge students with this task. Ultimately, having research skills and an understanding of surroundings will mean bringing more context to future work. So, students were to showcase some research on design agency of their choice – this could be a local agency from the North East or a global agency. Of course,
A card that means a lot challenge submitted by Saana.

Thank You

Thank you who made Day One of TICE Explore so memorable: Northumbria University, Apple Eldon Square, Dani (Sail Creative) and Jack (Hedgehog Lab). And of course, massive thanks to Orange Bus/Capita Consulting for not only inviting us to your space but for sponsoring this year’s TICE Graphics. We are incredibly grateful for the ongoing support.

You would assume that by going online, we would lose that spark which makes the TICE Programme so special. But this was absolutely not the case. The response has been brilliant, and we are so thankful to the industry professionals who helped make this happen and gave up their time to chat with us during lockdown. Thank you.

Well, that was TICE Explore for the Graphics team! Under very unique circumstances, that’s for sure. But instead of letting go of that creative spark, we have seen this year’s students continue to educate and create – not because they had to but because they wanted to. And THAT is what makes a great designer.

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