Mitch Introduces Sixth Formers to Graphic Design at Bilborough College

The Dairy turned 15 years old in 2017 and as part of our celebrations each team member dedicated 15 hours to a good cause of their choice. Verena volunteered at the Greyhound Trust, Tom worked with Notts County Football in the Community, and then, it was my turn.

I learned a lot about myself during my time studying at Bilborough College and it set me on the path to doing what I do now. It seemed like destiny that years later, I would work for The Dairy and the college would be one of our clients. Having previously done some teaching at the University of Lincoln, I wanted to use that experience and give back to the college, introducing students into the world of design and visual communication.I worked with enrichment programme leaders to create a short course consisting of five sessions that would introduce the sixth formers to key concepts – building a foundation of knowledge that they could take with them should they choose to pursue a design-related career (or even just a hobby!). I wanted the students to understand why certain things looked good, why certain colours worked well together, and to be able to apply their problem solving skills to design and the world around them.

We covered the concepts of typography, colour, movement, collage and the grid. We also looked at what makes some design “good” or “bad”, encouraging the students to make their own opinions and identify why something may or may not have worked. For example, if they saw an advert in a magazine, did it make them want to buy the product it was promoting? If not, why? Was the message unclear? Did the imagery not show off the product? Was there no clear call to action that directed potential customers somewhere to convert them into actual customers?

The course was a great success, the students reacted positively to the sessions and, to my amazement, came back week after week – hungry to learn more. Their appreciation of design and effective visual communication, as well as their problem solving skills, increased as the course went on. They were shown a subject that allowed them to combine critical thinking with creativity – something that that they may have never considered before. I hope the students take the lessons and skills they learned with them into whatever career they choose.

I firmly believe that graphic design, like all creative subjects, is important in education as well as in life. It is through the arts and media we learn about and communicate with the world around us. The creative sectors contribute £91.8bn to the economy yet many creative subjects are being squeezed or removed entirely from curriculums across the UK. It’s more vital than ever that we encourage the next generation to pursue these subjects, and discover how exciting, rewarding, and fulfilling they can be.