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George Lavender Graphic Arts (Graphic Design), 2012

Designer at Mother London

George Lavender's Photo

The graphic arts course structure allows you to try out various disciplines before choosing your specialised area. Initially I thought I wanted to pursue photography, but ended up focusing on graphic design. Which in hindsight was a good decision.

My persistence and hard work lead to a three month placement. After which I was made full time, and have now been with Mother London for two years.

What opportunities did you take up (within your degree programme and extra-curricular)? In what ways did they help your personal development?

A group of friends and I produced some books and prints for the world book day fair. Since then we have gone on to various London zine fairs, and continue to collaborate together in our spare time.

Did you have the opportunity to study modules outside of your core subject area, and how have they added to your success after leaving the University?

I studied the Marketing and Branding modules in my second and third year. I think this has helped me a great deal in understanding how brands communicate and how design fits into that. My knowledge of this subject also gave me a good foundation from which to develop my skills in the advertising industry.

Did any exposure to employer involvement or research led learning during your course help you achieve your ambition? If so, how?

During my third year, the Design Director of Mother London set us a live brief. I really pushed myself on this project, and kept in touch with Mother. Eventually, my persistence and hard work lead to them offering me a three month placement. After which I was made full time, and have now been with the company for two years.

What did you enjoy most about your course?

The studio environment; we had a great working space, which we could customise to our liking. We had decorated ours with our own work and inspirations. The dynamic between students was great too – being in an environment where people are driven and enthusiastic really motivated me to do the best work possible.

What networking, employment and work experience opportunities did you undertake and did they enhance your Southampton experience?

I did a 6 week internship at a local design and marketing agency in Winchester. This was just after my second year and it was good to gain some valuable experience working on live projects.

What have been the highlights of your career to date?

Seeing my work out in the real world. Working in New York for three months. Working all night until 5 am, and then partying all night until 5 am the next day. My mum’s photo hanging on the wall of Mothers at Mother.

What advice would you give to a student starting their degree at Southampton?

Work hard and play hard. Be nice to everyone that you meet, you’ll never know who you might bump into again later in your career. It’s as much about who you know as what you know. Push yourself to get out there and don’t wait for opportunities to come your way – you have to find them for yourself.

If you had your time at University again is there anything you’d do differently?

I commuted for the first year rather than staying halls, so maybe that. But I have no real regrets.

What tips would you give to current students looking to start a career in your sector? What could they be doing now to make themselves more employable when they graduate?

Create a strong online presence for yourself. Agencies will pay attention to individuals that can market themselves. Get a website or Behance, a LinkedIn page and a blog. Some of my first freelance projects came through people discovering me online. Also, just email as many agencies as you can. Before I went to New York I contacted around 50 studios, I only heard back from about 5 of them. But one of them offered me an internship for three months after an interview. So it only takes one yes, but you have to be persistent.

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