Shillington prides itself on providing its students with an up-to-date and relevant education with a focus on practical skills that are essential in the workplace. Established in 1997, the school offers a three-month immersive and hands-on course in graphic design catered to students with little to no experience in the field. In addition, they offer a week-long intensive program in web development targeted at existing designers looking to develop coding experience. Both courses are overseen by instructors currently working in the field. In today’s interview, we chat with Holly Karlsson, Shillington’s NY campus director. She fills us in on the school’s history and how it rises to the challenges its students face.
Can you fill us in on Shillington’s history and how it came into being?
Andy Shillington, our CEO, was running a design studio back in the 90′s and he struggled to find junior designers with the practical and technical knowledge that he required so he decided to started Shillington Education and turn the typical education model upside down.
We started in Australia some 20 years ago where we have 3 campuses in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. We then opened two more campuses in the UK in London and Manchester and we launched the New York campus five years ago.
We have just expanded our campus in London to two classrooms which is exciting news for us all.
What compelled you to get involved with the school?
I had been a graphic designer for 8 years working in London mainly for advertising, branding packaging studios. I had a real desire to teach but felt a real world education didn’t exist until I came across Shillington. I had to be part of it so I started lecturing at Shillington’s London campus. I was then given the opportunity to move to New York and start Shillington’s first U.S. campus in the heart of midtown and I have been here in the States now for 4 years as the U.S. Director.
What challenges do current students face when making the transition into the real world and how does Shillington rise to meet those needs?
At Shillington we endeavor to better prepare students for the practical aspects of working as a designer. With most industries ‘time is money’, a designer needs to not only design well but design quickly to meet demanding deadlines.
From day one we encourage students to start talking about design so they become confident with both visually and verbally communicating their ideas to clients. We feel both these areas of design development integral to gaining a job in the graphic design industry and keeping it!
What do you see as the future of design education?
Design education needs to be relevant, succinct and realistic as to what is expected by employers within the industry. In my opinion the needs of students and employers aren’t being met by many educators.
I feel the current trend and the future of design education are short, practical and relative courses to add to ones skill set without taking too much time out of paid employment to complete. Most people cannot afford to take 4 years to complete a diploma or degree therefore short, day or evening courses are a way of skilling up. Once you have been given the solid technical foundation offered by Shillington and you secure your first graphic design job, this is when, I believe, your real learning experience commences.
We would like to thank Holly for taking time to share with us. You can learn more about Shillington here.
Holly Karlsson has served as a Designer and Art Director at a broad range of advertising agencies. Her wealth of experience led her to become Head of Teaching at Shillington and is now the US Director in New York.
This interview is brought to you by Shillington School. A place where students can learn from teachers who are practicing designers in a realistic studio environment.
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