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Lessons learned…

June 29, 2011

In the lead up to New Designers, I have been thinking about my time at New Designers, a mere four years ago!

In reflection, New Designers was a great experience as it highlighted just how unprepared I was. You spend four years of your life submersed in your studies, maybe deterring now and again for a few beverages. But it wasn’t the ‘real’ world. I don’t believe university prepared me for that (I also don’t think I took the opportunity to find out for myself what the ‘real world’ was like). Yeah it taught me a few life skills, a few social skills, but it certainly did not prepare me for ‘real life.’

In fourth year, you are completely caught up in your degree show, nothing is more important than it. Not your dissertation, not any future plans, just degree show, the there and then. Looking back, I was definitely one of those students with just my degree show blinkers on and my head buried in the sand.

Little did I know that by working hard on your degree show doesn’t necessarily get you very far. I’m not saying that if you don’t do well that you will get far. There is so much more involved, your degree certainly is not something you can rest on.

Being in new designers, you are put in front of a completely different audience, an audience that has never seen your work before, that don’t know who you are. Your wok is stripped back to it’s bare bones and is there to be judged. The people you meet or the people that seem interested, it is your chance to share a little part of you. To give them your ‘elevator pitch’ who you are, what you are about in such a short space of time.

New Designers was eye opening, but at the time it felt like a waste of time. I didn’t get any exhibitions, I didn’t have retailers interested, no one bought my work. But for me it was a lesson, but a lesson is just as valuable. Being able to make jewllery can only get you so far. Being able to talk about your work, being able to write about work are also essential skills to have in your tool box. Knowing your customers and understanding demographics, how to sell and brand yourself are all incredibly valuable skills that will give you the better understanding of your profession and how to fit into it.

Being able to talk about your work, being able to write about work are also essential skills to have in your tool box.

At New Designers I was short listed for new designer of the year, a prestigious award, however, what let me down greatly was the fact that I did not know how to talk about my work. I caved under the pressure of trying to tell a complete stranger what my work was about. No one had ever challenged me throughout my course. It was never built into us that we actually had to be able to talk about our work too.

What I tried to stress to this years jewellery graduates was that your jewellery does speak a thousand words but you have the opportunity to interact with this new audience. Sell yourself! Articulate your work, give it the justice it deserves.

I wish everyone luck, not only in New Designers, but with all their next steps after university :-)

New Designers opens TODAY:

Business Design Centre

Islington, London.

Part One: 29th-2nd July

Part Two: 6th-9th July

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Rebecca White permalink
    June 29, 2011 11:17 am

    Very insightful! That is one thing I am really not great at is putting what is going on in my head about my work into words. Will need to think it through more. Thanks for the heads up!

  2. June 29, 2011 2:30 pm

    Thank you for this post. It is so true. College doesn’t necessarily gear you up to talk about/ promote your work. I too was exhibiting at New Designers back in 2004 and I did find it hard to talk about my work then. I still do now. I think it’s one of the hardest thing about being a jewellery designer. It takes time and practise and doesn’t come as second nature to most of us. I’m getting better, I think ?!?

    Good luck at New Designers everyone.

    • June 29, 2011 3:02 pm

      Thanks for your comment!

      It definitely comes with practice! But if we were asked to do that in uni then it would have geared us up for it! I feel a lot more comfortable now as I went back to uni to complete my Masters and there, you had to talk! You were given 15 minutes to prepare a 5 minute presentation! You were thrown in at the deep end and because I wasn’t used to I flustered and stammered! But as the year went on and the more that I did, I got used to it.

      I’ve done presentations to GSA and DJCAD and presented in front of some very important people and it certainly doesn’t faze me as much as it did back then (I still end up getting complete dry mouth and end up looking like Jim Carrey in Me, Myself and Irene).

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