Here at Shape, we offer Work Experience for individuals wanting to have a real taste of the design industry rather than doing the sh*t jobs of making tea and coffee for people (we hate this).
Over the last few weeks, we’ve had Amy, an Artist and Illustrator from Liverpool, join our Team working remotely from her University House. Giving her an exciting brief to work on, Amy was passionate about applying her skills to a design environment.
We caught up with Amy to ask about how her time here at Shape...
Hello! I am Amy, a 20-year-old student in Liverpool eager to make it into the design industry, then lockdown happened, and tried to put a halt to my plans. I tried to not let this get to me, but as I was approaching the last few months of my time in University, it was difficult to not be wary of what the future may hold. It was with this fear that drove me to get my artwork out into the world, with each sold painting my confidence grew, and I started to believe this was more than just an unrealistic dream.
I heard about MadebyShape when a post showing their new vision for Relevé appeared on my Instagram explore page and succoured me into stalking the MadebyShape website for the rest of my day.
Without talking to anyone I fell in love with the work, ethos, and family-like nature of the team, which quickly made me want to be a part of it…so I emailed them.
I was expecting it to be pretty similar to previous work experience I'd done where you'd be overshadowing someone and that style of work. I wasn't expecting it to be as nearly as interactive as it was.
Ella presented a fake ‘brief’ to me with a company created for me and from there it was clear this was not going to be anything like your typical work experience.
The project was outlined as an all-inclusive body positivity campaign for a swimwear company, MOKA. Straight away I knew this was something right up my street and in line with my current design work, so I was beyond excited to get started. However, early on I learned that in the real world I can’t just get the paints out. This was something I hadn’t considered before, but Andy and Ella were more than happy to explain to me what clients expect before the design work gets done, which is when I began researching competitors' campaign strategies.
The MOKA brief
I did not think the research part of the project would interest me greatly, however as I was scrolling through numerous oversexualised petite models and covered up plus-sized ones, the feminist in me came out, and in turn made me even more passionate about this project.
I was astonished to find commonalities in how different sized women were presented across brands, as if plus-sized women are unable to feel sexual and petite models should be sexualised in order to sell the swimwear. I was determined to create a campaign that showcased an all-inclusive swimwear company through paintings.
Amy's initial research
I quickly realised that in order to create a ‘perfect’ campaign, there needs to be back-up research, illustrations, meaningful messages, and good communication across the board – this has taught me to be more open-minded in the future when it comes to my design process.
The regular zoom meetings with Andy and Ella helped me reach the conclusion to steer away from my usual colourful pallet and tone it down with a range of skin tones. This helped me further the creation of the mood boards, the next issue I had to tackle was the best poses for the models.
The mood boards I created throughout the process indicated that sat-down models complimented displaying the bikini and the model feeling ‘sexy’ within their body well. Though I decided to experiment with a group painting in order to highlight the brand being all-inclusive, I was happy with the piece individually, but I didn’t think it had as strong a message as singular models could.
This led me to present sketches alongside their correlating mood boards over zoom for feedback. After a couple of needed tweaks, we settled on the most appropriate poses for the paintings.
Amy's Initial Sketches
I ended up with 3 paintings of women of different sizes and ethnicities, through the minimalistic use of shapes to form the model any curves were accentuated rather than disguised. I believe this gave off the raw message of body positivity, as I intended.
Usually, this would have been the end-stage to one of my personal projects and I wasn’t sure what to expect when I went on zoom the next day. From looking for mock-ups to typography, I began feeling pretty out of my depth. However, Andy and Ella were constantly checking in with me over zoom to help me out to get to the final result, something I am extremely proud of.
Throughout the research process, I was surprised to the extent to which my art would be aided by it. Usually, I just start working from a reference and start painting, but in this case, I was able to improve the final products by exploring the pros and cons of previous campaigns. Before starting this project I saw the illustration side of a campaign as most important, however, I came to realise there was much more to it and your work needs to be backed up from research when it comes to the design industry.
The feedback ended up benefitting my art a lot more than I expected. It's not something I'm used to as I'm usually doing my paintings in my room so people only see the final product, not the process. Any constructive criticism I got ended up really beneficial to the final outcome of the project.
In a time where everything is a little bit uncertain, I was not sure what to expect from work experience online as zoom is something that everyone is trying to get familiar with, but I never thought it would be as interactive as this.
On the first day, I was extremely nervous as I was so hopeful to make a good impression. But due to my warm welcome from Andy and Ella, I settled quickly and was really made to feel like part of the team, even over zoom!
Amy's Work From Home Set Up
How important other parts of a campaign are, not just the illustrations and getting a finished product out there, there needs to be meaning, messages etc. You can't just provide the client with the finished illustration, and that is something I hadn't really considered before working with Shape.
I'd like to say it wasn't but from reading Shapes Blog, I got a clear idea before starting on the vibe, how friendly and how passionate everyone was in comparison to other companies. This was something I was not used to in work experience as usually you are left to shadow someone, here I was able to see hands-on what it would be like to work in the industry against realistic time constraints.
100%! To anyone that's interested in working in the design industry, I'd recommend applying here. The knowledge that I've gathered, I didn't think I could get over zoom, particularly over the space of two weeks and I've learnt a lot from it.
I knew I would enjoy anything creative, but I wasn’t expecting to love it so much that I was ringing my mum almost daily to tell her what I had been up to! I was asked to include some constructive criticism for this experience, and I have been racking my brain for the last hour and to be honest, I’ve just enjoyed every minute. From the first day to the last I was given great advice on how to improve and the best direction to take things in, always with an accompanying GIF!
I can’t thank Andy, Ella, and the MadebyShape team enough for making this possible. Not only have I learned some extremely valuable lessons about making it in the design industry, but they have made me even more determined to get there!
It was lovely having Amy as part of the team during her time at Shape and we wish her the best of luck with her career in the creative industries, wherever it may take her.
Want a taste of Shape yourself? We are always on the search for standout candidates who are looking to learn and develop their skills in a digital agency in Manchester. Sound good? Apply today.