Back to university for the day

by Callum Richards on 01 February 2018

Last week, we travelled back to the university where I graduated, the Cardiff School of Art and Design. We were invited to talk to the current students from all years at an event called Afterlife. Philly came along too of course. It was a bit nerve wracking being invited back to speak to my fellow students but once I got into the swing of it I really enjoyed it! Here's a bit about how it went and what we shared on the day.


I used to go to every Afterlife talk that the course organised when I was a student, I found them really useful. We wanted to offer the students some advice—things we'd have found useful when we were in their shoes, for me, just one year ago. I think getting to know people in the creative industry is important, especially as a student. We spoke about our personal experiences and how different our paths were that lead us to John&Jane. 

Mine and Gareth’s paths took a pretty direct route as we both knew very early on that we wanted to be graphic designers, Sarah's path however took a few more twists and turns.

One thing all our paths had in common was the way we met. Sarah founded and hosted the Cardiff chapter of CreativeMornings—which was started in New York and is now run in nearly 200 chapters around the world. Gareth was part of her team that organised and promoted an event each month. I also joined the team just before starting my final year in university, I tried to put my free time to the best use possible, so I decided to try and get involved in anything and everything. 

Long story short, I joined John&Jane in summer 2017. Getting involved in a community of designers and creatives will inevitably be the best way to network and connect with people that could play a big part in your career once you leave your studies. 

As we were presenting to students that were nearly finished with university as a whole, Sarah and Gareth spoke about what they would look for when hiring someone for John&Jane. Creative, genuine and experimental are the qualities we feel represent John&Jane best, so that's what we would look for in anyone joining the team. Experimenting can be scary as it forces you to explore outside of your comfort zone and push yourself. We love to try new things everyday and improve the way we think when tackling a fresh project. 

In my part of the presentation I decided to talk about my experience of looking and eventually landing a job in design, but also how to get your name out there. I remember the most worrying thing about being a student was what happens after you leave, and as I only graduated seven months ago I still understand that it can be scary not knowing what is going to happen next. 

So before I left, I asked myself a couple of questions. Where did I want to work in the world? And what do I love to do? I think the city in which you work should influence and inspire you. Working out what you love to do should be the easy part, I used university to explore different aspects of design and came to the conclusion that print and editorial is what I loved the most. Answering these questions gives you an idea of where you want to work and where you can see yourself after university.


Before I started working in this industry, I knew I wanted to work somewhere that had a real passion for design and everything that went into designing something great. One of my favourite things to do when I start on a new branding project is research into typefaces. Typefaces are one of the most vital elements of an identity and we believe a lot of attention needs to be paid to it. When working on projects such as Puro and Moda Vitali we put a lot of consideration into the typography to ensure we were offering the best design solution.

Another project that we used typography extensively for was our campaign for Pritchard's Dirty Vegan Burger with The Grazing Shed. We decided to use a heavy typeface but then treated it to give it a gritty textured look which worked really well with the campaign and personality of Pritchard's burger.

This was the project we decided to share during the Afterlife talk as it's one of our most recent and challenging projects. Before we started work on the campaign itself we kicked off the project by painting a life size cow. This was a bit of a personal goal of ours believe it or not, to paint a life-sized animal and use it for a brilliant project. Once the cow was finished we then moved onto the type treatment and designing the campaign that can now be seen all around the city of Cardiff.


Based on our talk and some of the questions we got from some of the students on the day Gareth has written a separate post offering design students and graduates 9 nuggets of advice. Check it out.

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