Are you thinking about a career in design? We have a chat to Billy Blue student Alex Torcutti about his transition from study to work.
Why did you choose Billy Blue?
After finishing high school I decided to attend TAFE and study a diploma in graphic design. From there I was fortunate enough to gain an internship with a small studio which led to a steady flow of freelance work. This helped me realise there were so many things I wanted and needed to learn that didn’t seem possible in my current environment. After speaking with a few friends, they recommended I looked into Billy Blue as they had done the same or heard positive feedback about the college and its graduates.
What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learnt so far?
I think it would be the value of collaboration—the realisation that you can’t do everything yourself. It’s great to be well rounded and to have an understanding of all the tools and techniques available to you, but figuring out what your strengths are and focusing on them allows you to refine your skills and push them further.
What is the main area of design you work in and why?
I would say branding and publishing. I quite enjoy the process of giving an idea a unique identifiable visual presence specific to its needs, and find designing layouts somewhat therapeutic because of the structure and endless possibilities that come with using a grid. A lot of what we cover in the communication design course involves learning about and creating brands, which usually results in designing a printed publication to present the final outcomes. Billy Blue has allowed me to take a more or less selfish approach to design, but I think it is one of the best things about it too—being able to take risks and experiment without any real world repercussions. You are basically designing for yourself, with no clients, budgets or rounds of changes, which allows for a lot of creative freedom. This is also backed up by being able to receive feedback from quality lectures and fellow students, which I suppose helps build the confidence and skills necessary to take the next step into the real world.
Have you gained any opportunities through formal study that you wouldn’t otherwise have had?
This year I was fortunate enough to be assigned the role of film and design director of the BBetween—an annual publication produced by a select team of 3rd year communication design students at Billy Blue. This gave me the opportunity to film interviews with and meet with some of Sydney’s leading creatives, something I may not have been able to experience in the same environment outside of Billy Blue. We were also fortunate enough to launch the publication as a part of the Vivid festival on the roof of the MCA, which I think was a memorable night for all those involved and not something that comes along very often.
What have been the highlights of your professional career so far and why?
I think it would be the first brief I was given the responsibility to take from start to finish with the studio I work for, although it was not the most exciting of projects, going through the whole process and realising that I was capable of doing so was a big achievement for me.
Where do you find inspiration for your projects?
For me it’s usually a matter of process, research, brainstorming, sketching and mind-mapping, sometimes taking a step away from the project, talking about it with someone or going for a walk and observing the world around me. I also spend a lot of time looking at blogs and folio websites to keep up with and admire what other people are doing.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m somewhat in-between projects at the moment. I am currently working with some people on the rebranding a web hosting service, collaborating with an artist in Melbourne to help bring to life a concept for a website and am in the process of arranging a group exhibition with some friends from college.
If you’re working on a client brief, do you still find time for personal projects?
Always. I don’t tend to plan when I will take on a personal project, it’s usually an idea or concept that comes to mind that I work on in my spare time. I find them another good opportunity to experiment and evolve my own personal style which can often feedback into the type or style of future work I do.
What’s your dream job?
Although I don’t have a specific place I would like to work for right now, I aspire to work for a small studio in branding and/or publishing that aligns to my values and ideals about life and design. Somewhere I am able to grow as a designer, participate as an active member of a team and be involved in stimulating and ethically sound design.
Do you have any advice for people who want to study design and pursue it as a career?
The one thing that I found the most helpful was picking up some work experience and doing an internship with a studio. It’s so different from working on a college project, with real deadlines, budgets and clients to impress. I knew after my first day that it was something I wanted to pursue.