A Summer In LondonPosted: September 26, 2016
From starting it in New York and ending it in London, its safe to say that my 2016 summer holiday was an eventful one. At the start of July, through connections in the company, I was able to get my C.V and online portfolio to the Creative Director of a London based design agency called Accelerate Digital. He liked my work and asked to me come in for an interview, which proved very difficult for me as I was in between holidays at the time meaning that I had to meet him on my way to Gatwick airport, right after coming back from New York. So I turned up to the interview incredibly get-lagged, giant red suitcase in hand, and managed to get myself a summer internship with an initial 2 week trail period.
It was obviously very daunting on the first day, especially as its such a big agency with some really prestigious clients, but I also had great feeling of optimism and confidence as I knew how much of an amazing opportunity this was.
The first two weeks were all about getting settled in and learning how the agency worked, or more importantly how the team worked. Accelerate’s main focus is digital, so they had a huge team of developers and 3 senior graphic designers. What I found so great at first was that everyone had a great balance of having fun and working hard.
The chemistry was great and there were some brilliant people, like the Spanish coding wizard Alberto who had dreadlocks that went all the way down to his waist. Or the absolutely mental and hilarious designer from Essex, Joe, who probably had more energy than everyone else in the agency combined.
And I can’t leave out Micheal, the cynical Australian designer who I probably worked the closest with out of everyone else. He had the privilege of sitting next to me for a good portion of the internship, which was great for him as it meant he could tell me off whenever I came up with a terrible front cover for a brochure. However, even though he was probably the hardest on me out of everyone else, I will remember the lessons that he taught me for the rest of my career.
Now the mastermind behind all of this was Lee Fairbrother, the creative director of the agency. The amount of work that Lee put in to make sure that I got the most out of this internship and that I performed to the best of my ability was substantial. He taught me so much about design, the industry, how to generate and conceptualise ideas and how to improve my skills. He was a brilliant leader and there was a great sense of direction in the agency, which is even more impressive considering how young he was for his position.
Now enough about the people, let’s talk about what I was actually doing.
I basically had the role of junior designer while working at the agency. I was working on countless live briefs, meaning that I was constantly balancing deadlines and talking through feedback with clients. It was very stressful at first but once I got myself into a rhythm I found the whole experience to be very exciting and enjoyable, although I’m sure I won’t feel the same about it in 20 years!
One of the pieces that I am most proud of came from about halfway through the internship. I was asked by Nuno, who is in charge of the business side of the agency, to design a minimalist booklet for one of their clients, Arch Graduates. One of the senior designers had already had a crack at it but as he wasn’t briefed that well enough the direction he was going in wasn’t pleasing Nuno, so he asked me if I could take over. The booklet, titled ‘Stories of Impact’, was supposed to be a simple way portraying the success and benefits of the service that the client provides.
So I started designing away and found a good style to stick with and managed to come up with a clean and direct form of visual communication. Joe, who originally designed the booklet, came over and was really impressed with what I had done. The Nuno came over and was also really impressed with what I had done and told me to create a couple more pages so we could send them over to the client. We then got them printed out so that we could package them in some nice black envelopes and sent them over to the client. Needless to say that after that I was given more important projects, which helped to stretch my skills and my creativity.
It was an incredibly surreal and amazing experience, I learnt so much about what the industry is like and what its like working in a chaotic London design agency. Although one of greatest things I will take away from it are the people that I met. They all taught me so much and I made some really good friends in the process.
The whole thing went so well that Lee even offered to take me on as a Junior Designer once I graduate, which was something that I thought would never happen and has given me a huge boost of confidence in myself and my ability as a designer. Figuring out what I want to do after I graduate is something that I am going to have to really think about during my third year, as moving to London is a huge life decision, and I think that Lee understands this fully
My experience at Accelerate digital was incredibly rewarding and I had a lot fun while making some good friends, I will definitely remember it for a long time.