Day 1:

Day 1 of Graphics Explore Stage was in full swing at Newcastle College! Graphics mentor, Mark Pattinson, began with a brief overview of what this stage will entail and introduced the overall goal of this stage in the programme. This day was all about skills development particularly in software used constantly in the Graphic Design industry, Photoshop.

The explore stage of each creative area shows a significant change in what is expected from the students and what better way to represent that than throwing the students into the world of beverage design!? Mark challenged the students to design a new summer drunk launched by either Coca Cola, Del Monte or Innocent – all three being global brands. This was a great way for Mark to give the students that foundation of understanding in Photoshop in prep for their potential place on the Create Stage. So many little but significant edits were explained including tonality, typography and layout composition. It was stressed that these skills were what was going to make their projects scream from the page. With these tools, there were some impressive results!

It was noticeable to see that students were even asking more questions about how they could manipulate an image, including colour gradients – generally, Mark ended up teaching skills that weren’t even on the tick box. This simply showed just how invested and talented these students are. Despite the competitive nature of the task at hand, students were acting more as peers, supporting each other throughout the day. This was great practice for what was to come…

Day 2:

Moving onto Day 2 of Explore, students made their way to the Northern Design Centre beautifully located near the Quayside. The students were firstly introduced to a couple of industry elites in the Graphic Design field, based at the venue. To begin the day’s workshop was Jason from Blue Kangaroo – regularly working with the likes of Disney and Pixar. He gave the students some underestimated information about his breach of contract with others, how he is often sworn to secrecy and trusted by global brands in an attempt to prevent copyright.

To make things even more exciting, Alex from Arcus Animation stopped by and talked about current projects, general freelance projects and the difference between the two. She also touched upon her own career path – good and bad aspects, moving from one agency to the other. Alex was wonderful and insightful, offering open and honest points about the real world of Graphic Design. This helped determine the student’s decisions in keeping their talent as a career or a hobby.

Mark then gave the students a brief tour of the building, stopping by many of the design offices which were bursting with vibrancy and excitement: Arcus Studio, Fueled and Absolute all introduced themselves and answered a few of the student’s burning questions. It excited the group to realistically see what this career could lead them to, one of those things potentially being a seat in one of the design studios at NDC.

Now for the main event! Mark had set them a task once back at their HQ in the design centre. Students were expected to form small groups, come up with one word which best described how they felt on that day and each student had to design each character. The intention would be to morph these characters together which perfectly encapsulates the word through imagery.

After a couple of hours of doodles and sketches, the students finished with beautifully design banners with words such as “Future”, “Epic” and (Mark’s favourite word), “Passion”! Students wandered around all of the designs, almost like a gallery and discussed with each other professionally on what was achieved.

Students seemed in complete awe when the Explore Stage ended, as they left realised just how much they had learned about the industry and such a small amount of time. Skills were enhanced, contacts were building up by the second and students created something truly impressive in such challenging circumstances. We’re immensely proud – thank you to the venues, teachers, schools and industry guests for making this experience extra special. Next stop, Create Stage!