Adam, 24, joined Etch as a digital product designer in November 2018. After graduating with a Bachelor's Degree in Graphic Design from Solent University in 2015, his portfolio now spans across major global and UK brands including; Natwest, Lloyds Bank, Unilever (AXE & Dove), IQOS, Equiniti, SpeakEmoji app.
When I was at uni, I didn’t know what area of design I wanted to go into. My course was very print focused and at the time didn’t do any digital work.
It was only until a lady called Ros Horner came into guest lecture, that I knew that digital design was exactly the area I wanted to specialise in. At the time she worked for a London design agency and I remember being captivated by the work. Huge brands one after another. All the work was superb.
I remember leaving that lecture thinking; ‘that’s exactly the place I want to work’ but also ‘how on earth do I get there straight from uni?’
At the same sort of time, I was making boxes to send out. The boxes were screen-printed and filled to the brim with my uni work. In hindsight, I put way too much work in there. I hadn’t a clue how to structure a portfolio at the time, I just put everything in there. I just hoped there may be at least one thing in there that they might like.
I sent one to Ros' agency in the post and I didn’t hear anything back from them for about 3 weeks. I was forever refreshing my emails to see if anything had come through. I was gutted. I thought I’d blown my chance. Until I received a tweet from Ros. From there, everything changed. I was invited for an interview and before I knew it I had a job lined up for when I finished uni. This was a massive weight off my shoulders and allowed me to fully focus on the closing weeks of uni.
Adam's top tips
Be brave. Don’t think you’re not good enough, because you are good enough! For sure, your skills may be slightly unpolished when you first leave uni, but the ideas and craft are all there! It’s about finding an agency that believes in your ideas and craft to start perfecting those skills!
Don’t limit yourself to who you apply to. Send your work to your favourite agencies. What’s the worst that can happen? They say no, and you don’t hear anything back. But what if they say yes?... You’ll never know unless you send your work to them! You’ve got nothing to lose.
Send your favourite work. Not the work your lecturers or friends think looks good - send the work YOU think looks good! Send the work that you believe in and what really shows off your skills. All uni work kind of looks the same, they follow similar structures and briefs, so try to show self-initiative projects.
It’s also important to show how you get to your final idea. Show a project with an end to end process, from the discovery phase all the way through to the final outcome. It's super important to show how you tackle a project.
Try to send your work in a unique way. Emails are sometimes too easy and can get lost amongst everything else in the inbox. Think bigger than email. At least if it’s a physical object it will sit on that person’s desk and they’re almost forced to look at it.
London to Southampton
I recently moved back home to Southampton, to join Etch. When I was at uni, I was never aware of cool agencies on the South Coast. I think we’re very quick to think you can only really make it as a designer if you work in the capital. For sure there are some great agencies are in London (Etch also has a studio in Clerkenwell) - but your creative career is not dependent on London anymore - you can find the same success on the South Coast!
Coming from a big agency to a relatively small one you really get the sense of teamwork here. People here care about what they do and are invested in creating the very best work! They’re also really passionate about investing in the future and it's why we have created a grad scheme here at Etch called ‘Etch Academy’. We’re hiring one person for each of our key disciplines. Design, marketing and development. So why not kick start your journey here at Etch!