Soak It Up

UCLan graphics studios hosts sixth annual conference week

Soak It Up


The UCLan graphics studios hosted its sixth annual conference week at the start of February with talks covering a wide range of creative disciplines including advertising, graphic design, digital design, illustration, animation, TV and film.

Titled ‘Soak It Up’, it brought an exciting and absorbing series of guest speakers to UCLan to share their experiences, work and insights.

The week consisted of nine talks including two international speakers presenting via Skype and two UCLan alumni speakers. The week was opened by illustrator Sarah Coleman who has over 400 book covers to her name with clients including Playboy, Coca Cola, New York Times, Royal Mail, LA Times, Tiffany Jewellers and many more.

Copywriter T.J Rees was up next who last year worked with the Britain Stronger in Europe Campaign. T.J talked about how it is important to learn from mistakes with his VOTIN video getting a fair amount of criticism in the press and on social media, telling us that it “did not quite go according to plan.” Illustrator Jonny Hannah and Shaun Bowen, creative partner of B&B Studios, were the talks of day two with the third day involving a visit from the BBC who, after a talk by Paul Crowley and the UX&D team, ran a one-day project with students based on the D&DA briefs. Design director Craig Oldham was the sixth speaker followed by a Skype presentation by New York-based Mike Rigby who works for RGA New York and teaches Advanced Design at the School for Visual Arts in NYC.

Senior Lecturer Andy Bainbridge said the week had a positive impact the students: “We had one speaker, Mike Rigby, who is from St Helens and is now working in New York with an amazing company. If I were in the students’ shoes I’d think, wow I could do that.”

Fitting for the final day, two UCLan graduates were the headline to close conference week. Also conducting a Skype presentation, Amsterdam-based design director Claire Parker who graduated in 1991 was first up, with 1992 well-travelled graduate Richard Johnson closing the week.  He based his talk on “10 things I have learnt since leaving Preston” as he now works for marketing experts, The Gang, based in Singapore.

Andy said: “We set something in motion that we think works quite well. It is good for students to hear people from industry coming in and talking about their work practice and to show what goes within the industries on a day-to-day basis. It is great motivation for the students who want to go on and do something similar.”

The graphics course at UCLan, along with fashion, was the first in the country to introduce a sandwich placement course. A key focus of the event is to remind students that along with the experience of the built in placement on the course, there is no doubt that they can go on and do something similar to the guest speakers.

Thinking ahead to next year and the possibility of the seventh conference week, Andy added: “This was the most successful one and maybe it’s time to go a little bit bigger with it.”

Soak It Up