This friday’s talk was from YCN “Young Creatives Network” and i was really excited about this talk because i am currently working on an entry for one of their Student Award Briefs and relished the opportunity to learn more about the organisation and the brief i am working on.

The Young Creatives Network is run from a building in Shoreditch, East London and its an organisation that brings together young creatives, potential clients and people from all over the world. They aim to help members and non members alike connect with new communities and ideas, and fuel their creativity and curiosity in design and beyond. YCN believes that creativity is the most important trait a person can posess and their student awards programme is how they began in 2001. We have been introduced to this organisation through two of their members today, Jennie who works in the YCN shop and runs events, and Doris who is a Creative producer in their Talent Team.

During this talk we were informed more indepthly about the Student Awards- how the briefs are set by clients and YCN send all of our entries off to the clients to be judged, the only award that YCN has any involvement in judging is the “Student of The Year” award. The briefs are put out by YCN from brands that want new, fresh and creative approaches to design and business solutions. The clients pick a selection of entries- there are no 1st, 2nd or 3rd prizes just commended students; these students are then invited to the Award ceremony in September. This is a lavish affair in which you are wined and dined and entertained for the evening and presented with an award, an award which would look very prestigious i imagine on a creative CV.

Aswell as the Awards ( they also have awards for graduates aswell as students, but these are separate) YCN aims to provide creative inspiration, through the creation of a magazine show casing interesting in depth interviews, studio visits and new talent and each edition has a theme like “You can now… get lost” which encourages people to go on adventures in their creativity and get lost in the creative process. They also have daily digital publishing, which also shows a selection of new talent, studio visits and insights into brands.  The YCN building in Shoreditch also has a wide range of events on its calander such as talks and workshops with creatives from industry. It also hosts an event called “Two’s company” in which two people successful in a certain industry are invited to talk and discuss with an audience their success and their inspirations, in order to inspire creativity in others and enlighten those about different creative industries. What i found most useful was the introduction of a jobs and opportunities page on the YCN website, which i have just looked on and found more creative opportunities and internships on that one website than i have spanning the internet these past few months. It also shows freelance opportunities which would be very useful for myself.

Doris then spoke about her job in particular and her role within YCN, as a Creative producer she has a more organisational role and business minded job in which she keeps all of the talented members of YCN’s portfolios regularly updated, manages projects for creatives and is a go between for client and artist to ensure a project runs smoothly. She also explained how membership works:

  • Membership is £120 per year, and entitles young creatives to free advice , a portfolio viewing in which YCN members are given feedback and ideas for their portfolios and advice and guidance on how to get work, how to cost projects which can be a challenge when you are first starting out. They can also look at contracts to ensure you are being fairly paid for your work which is great for people who are new in the industry, because i personally would not know where to start in pricing work or how much my work would be work or time would be worth.

The YCN have had lots of big clients such as Vitamin Water ran a campaign with one of their member that spanned a whole year, and included illustrations being created for all regions of advertising from online to on the side of buses. YCN ensured that the illustrator was fairly compensated for his work and how much his illustrations would be creating in revenue being used for the whole year.

  • RANDOM PIECE OF INFO- alot of illustrators used pseudonyms!  i had not thought of this!

Finally the talk was ended by Jennie and Doris sharing their Top Tips for Success in the Creative industry and these are INVALUABLE¬

  • Share your work!- social media/ cargo collective/website
  • Love what you do, do what you love- don’t bog yourself down or convince yourself to do work you wouldn’t want to be known for, it shows in your work when you have put your heart and soul into what you have created
  • Be NICE- being a friendly and personable creative will make you more employable
  • Be PROACTIVE- no-one is going to make you successful except you, contact clients, put yourself out there and keep trying
  • Present yourself well- ensure your work is clear, professional and coherent
  • Online Presence should be clear and considered, don’t show all your university work- show what you want to be known for and what you are proud of. use social media effectively. websites should be easy to use and accessible. When you email clients- keep it short and sweet.

We have also been given Jennie and Doris’s email addresses if we have any more questions and i think i will send them my final Alice in Wonderland images for critique 🙂

dt@ycn.org – doris

jw@ycn.org- Jennie

below are some images from the presentation:

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The brief i am currently working on for the YCN Student awards is the Pan Macmillan brief to re imagine Alice in wonderland in a cover illustration and 1-2 internal illustrations. They spoke about this brief and after the talk i was lucky to be able to ask them more questions about it which cleared up my confusion as to whether Pan Macmillan, who spoke about the traditional character of Alice in the brief, wanted her included or re imagined also. They informed me that Pan Macmillan wanted an entirely new interpretation which was of great relief to me, as i had tried to create a new version with the traditional traits but they felt uninspirational and not fitting with my ideas. I also got the chance to show them some images of my current ideas and set design on my phone and they were interested and said it was the sort of different that Pan Macmillan were looking for, this has restored my confidence a little in where my work is going because as of tutorial yesterday i was feeling a bit concerned that i was heading towards a dead end with my sets.

Nathaniel Giraitis : Design is about people, not things

Nathaniel Giraitis came to give an industry Friday talk- he came to talk to us about design with meaning and how he works for Smart Design, where he tries to create services and products that are both functional and problem solving, but give something extra to the person using it.

Smart design is a design and innovation agency that has offices in New York, Barcelona and San Francisco and they have now opened an office in London. They have been going for 35 years and created thousands of products and services. Nathaniel’s role is head of strategy, like planning- what are you going to do and how are you going to get there.

I looked up after the talk more about Smart Design as a company and even their tagline is quite powerful, from what i have understood- smart design are the people you go to for mind blowing ideas- ideas that not only enhance your business but are designed and created with the greater good in mind. At the starting point of each of their endeavors Smart design think of who they are creating for, and how to benefit them- for example one client i saw on their website was Under Armour- a sportswear brand that had previously only appealed to a male demographic, but by creating a revolutionary new sports bra that solves the age old problems of previous sports bras (ill fitting- hard to gauge what size you should be wearing). The sports bra they created is measured by not only cup size- but rib cage size and provides proper support and protection whilst also maintaining an aesthetic quality that helps women feel less self conscious in sports wear. The role Smart Design played in this creation was paramount, because their in depth research into the needs/ wants of female athletes and their role in developing and marketing the product helped Under Armour make it a success.

“Products and services that matter.

We’re a design and innovation consultancy. We work across the digital and physical to deliver empowering experiences. We embrace the potential of design to improve lives, and by designing for purpose, not just appearance, we make design matter.”

There’s 3 things you need to think about when doing his job (strategizing as it were) that he spoke of, these are:

1. Whats good for business? Viability

2. What can we actually make? Feasibility

3. What do people actually want/ need? Desirability

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The focus of his talk was about consumer insights-  Research for design is important and varied and insights come from going deep into research and trying to understand people and their everyday lives. Focus groups are a group of people of varied backgrounds who come to an office and talk about a topic- but this can be limited that can be superficial. If you want to understand further, don’t make them leave their home and talk, research what you want to know as they do it and when they do it and then you might see more of what naturally happens. This could also be limiting because it limits you to the day that you observe that person, engaging people in conversation and showing them prototypes and ideas can make them part of the design process. This makes design that is inspired by real people and informed by what THEY think of your idea- insights should instantly change how you look at a problem because its a new perspective you gain from deeper research. Insights give you an answer to a question, but lead you to think “now what” and inspire you to consider many other possible answers and outcomes.

He spoke about 2 levels of insights- big and small. A big one tells you the opportunity and the little one tells you a bit more detail about it.  Nathaniel showed 3 examples of insights had at his company, the first was about smart phones and he then showed a contrasting image of a man holding an older video camera from 2006. He spoke about a client who wanted to create mini-camcorders and what the existing types all competed over like size, functionality and quality but when Smart assessed what they were going to be used for, you didn’t need a large camcorder to capture moments in time so the size of the camcorder was paramount. Also sharing instantly was desirable, before it a common thing. As Nathaniel spoke about these levels of insight, he spoke about how they created the flip camera in order to fulfill a selection of needs – the big insight was creating the flip camera and the little insights were the features of it.

He showed lots of examples- i won’t go into all of them but i found it interesting to see his process of abstracting the problem- i know what i have been asked to do, but what am i really trying to do here? This process of giving yourself more options opens new doors and i think this could help in my FMP because i have been looking at one “problem” of creating an illustration, but why am i creating it? who is it for?

Lastly he gave us some tips about how to design for others- you must get out of your comfort zone and into theirs and be inspired by their needs as well as your own. He encourages you to engage with people and not to be precious about your ideas, i could learn from this because sometimes i get so wrapped up in an idea and feel disheartened when its not as well recieved as i think, but then i find new things and am shown new things that lead me down different roads that i wouldn’t have previously seen. Good questions are also important- questions that engage with people and get people thinking aswell as yourself.

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Marcroy Smith- People of Print

This week we were visited by Marcroy Smith ( unsure if i have separated the names correctly) who is an illustrator which was great for myself as an illustration student to see 🙂 He came in to talk to us about his projects and People of Print which was created by Marcroy in 2008. It was created to act as a source of inspiration for everything print related, showcasing artists, designers, illustrators and printers all over the world. They also provide print consultation services and a bespoke screen print service for t-shirts and art prints. They also publish a magazine entitled “Print isn’t Dead”.

He began the talk by speaking of some of his recent clients, including a band named Crystal Castles who approached him to design an album cover, he accepted this under the premise that he was cited by them as the creator, they accepted this but he later discovered they were using his work not only for an album cover but on other promotional material such as t-shirts to which he was receiving no credit for. This is something as an illustrator i need to learn to be wary of, because your work shouldn’t be used without your permission but sometimes it happens and Marcroy dealt with it in an excellent way by asking the Association of illustrators to write a letter stating the legality of the situtation- in which crystal castles were forced to award him damages for using his imagery without permission. This was great to find out because i would not have known how to deal with this situation otherwise. The artwork he created was stunning:


He has also made use of kickstarter in order to fund his projects, currently he is using it to fund the next edition of “Print isn’t Dead” and its great to know that you can ask for help getting started and it does pay off, because he raised £6500 to start the magazine which is a huge accomplishment. Its a magazine made by printermakers to inspire other print makers because it showcases people who are doing things differently in print and trying new methods of making it exciting, in edition it holds interesting articles and interviews and showcases illustrators too. He shared with us that in the next edition there will be some alternative culture articles too so its interesting to see that to stay current and edgy that “Print isn’t Dead” will be expanding its subject matter.

On top of all of his publishing and promotion of print work, he runs print workshops with students and i would love to attend one of these. I haven’t been introduced to alot of print making techniques and his screen prints look vibrant and interesting! He’s created prints for Levi’s during the olympics, the V&A, Mastercard and the design museum among other clients.

After creating People of Print, in order to grow it and gain more experience Marcroy travelled to gain inspiration and this is something i could definitely follow in his footsteps and undertake, because there is no greater inspiration than diversity and his time in New York especially allowed him to begin making a name for himself and putting it out there, it must’ve been an excellent opportunity to network!

Finally, after the talk i went on the people of print website and browsed their directory of illustrators and printmakers and i would certainly like to be represented by a company such as this, the composition of the website itself has given me ideas for my own website to create for present and promote 🙂

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Bruno Bayley from Vice Magazine

This week we had a visitor from VICE magazine to deliver the industry Friday talk, i hadn’t previously heard of VICE magazine, its a printed magazine and a website dedicated to culture, arts and news topics, the man giving our talk was Bruno Bayley who is the main editor for the UK magazine but he also is the managing director for all 8 productions of Vice across Europe. I was very interested to find out that this is an entirely free publication, which i think adds to its appeal when the target group is 18-35 and think its a great way of informing about serious topics with some jokey elements, magazines are dropped off at universities ( i need to have a look for ours!). It was once banned from a university- citing it was too controversial but this is not the case as it have become prevalent in the art and design world. Bruno Bayley also is the photographic editor for the UK magazine, in that he choses and selects photographers and their work to feature in the magazine and online, he spoke about how passionate he was about this area of his job and that it takes a long time to select photos and edit them in order to use them to their full potential in the magazine. There was alot of technical aspects to choosing photographs and how the colour is used/ image quality/ size and composition and this is something as an illustrator you have to think of, i imagine especially in the realms of editorial work but also in book illustration.

Bruno has worked for Vice for 7 years, he spoke about how he has seen it develop from being less hard hitting and rather humorous, to a publication that discusses important social topics, with a little bit of humour still remaining in order to keep the fanbase that has been growing for years.  When looking online at different covers of previous vice magazines i can see how it appears controversial at times, because the cover imagery alone is thought provoking and out of the ordinary, i haven’t actually seen a magazine similar to this that tackles such taboo subjects head on and this is very refreshing. Simply by labelling one cover as the Vice guide to Sex, Drugs and Rock n Roll and using some hard hitting imagery they are putting out a publication unlike any other. I imagined it to be quite hard to know what to put in such a publication, for fear of public outcry but regardless this was an interesting talk from a man who has been breaking boundaries on what should and shouldn’t be discussed and has contributed to a publication full of thought provoking and interesting if not slightly taboo articles.

I had not previously looked at the role of editor, but now i am quite intrigued because whilst it must be an enormous responsibility to chose what your readership will see, based upon what you and your team think is important and thought provoking ; it seems like a wonderful opportunity to be exposed to all kinds of people and stories and learn more about the world around you and how to represent it.

The magazine itself has expanded into Vice Media, which now includes a record label, a film production company and a website yet it still keeps its publication free 🙂 which i think must encourage a lot of reader loyalty.

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Penelope Menodonca

Penelope ( or Pen as she likes to be called) is a graphics facilitator and artist/ illustrator- she has 15 years experience and although i was originally unclear on what a graphics facilitator is she explained that it is someone who has excellent communication skills, perhaps not so skilled at the drawing but good at getting her point across and other peoples points across. She is from New Zealand and she is currently undertaking a PHd.

She works mainly on the representation of social issues, policy development and campaigning and she is known for her ability to represent diversity and issues that can be seen as sensitive and controversial, i think as an illustrator its paramount to be sensitive to how you are communicating ideas and narratives and Pen does an excellent job of being sensitive to these, especially the varying organisations she works with such as the graphic she worked in a team to produce- for Joseph Rowntree housing trust. Social housing has often been doused in controversy when really its just assessing that every human has the right to shelter, its a basic need that shouldn’t be looked down upon. The kind of chart she created helps people to communicate what is most important to them, and then how staff can best support those people. below is a picture of it and whilst she says the drawing is not necessarily as important, i do really like her illustrative style because it has that vibe of accessibility and friendliness that i think really works:


She spoke in the talk about how being a graphic facilitator allows her to help people and i think that must be the most satisfying job, because although i love the idea of creating story book illustrations to enchant readers, it must be truly gratifying to know that you are for example giving someone a better insight into mental illness, or helping someone express their social need and wants when they couldn’t previously. Her work also seems very fast paced, which i like the sound of , she said that you need to be able to draw and write quickly and create true to life interpretations that people can easily understand and follow. When i see her work, it seems like she is creating a narrative that is specific to people and can affect change for them, and this is inspiring in itself because she is using her creativity to make peoples lives better and help them express their feelings, when perhaps they were having trouble before. She also does work for the government on top of working for charitable organisations, she also creates “strategy maps” for organisations that are trying to communicate or research a complex idea or narrative with a bigger audience.

Most of her work however is freelance, and its great to be able to hear from a freelancer because i find this quite a frighteningly unstable job choice where you have to have alot of confidence in your skills to put yourself out there and apply for work, and then the passion to continue to build consistently on your reputation and skills. She asked us all as a group whether we had considered freelance work, and it isn’t something i would like to go into straight away because i don’t feel confident enough yet but certainly as i have time to practice and find the style i really enjoy creating in ( hopefully this will happen during my FMP!) then it may be something i consider when i am financially stable.  But in her freelance work, she is affecting change and helping those who may be overlooked, to have a voice and to gain help and this is an honorable profession, and even though when i try and communicate an idea i always think about my target audience, i now will chose to think more deeply about them on an emotional level as opposed to thinking about them according to age, gender and other common factors.

anistreet2-resize penmendonca_logo PEN-01_6241she lastly spoke about a project she is working on currently, creating a graphic novel about single mothers with absent partners. She said she has interviewed people in order to research for this and i think thats an excellent idea and certainly for the second half of my FMP in which i re-imagine the 12 dancing princess- i may interview some of my target group which will most likely be children, in order to get their reactions to my existing style of communicating.


Today we had a member of the RSA come to the university to illuminate the “Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce” , shorted to the RSA because thats quite a mouthful! The RSA was formed during the enlightenment period, in times of Cafe culture where people would meet to discuss new ideas about how to achieve social progress, it was founded in 1754! The aim of the RSA is to achieve social progress, they are committed to creating enterprises for the common good using design thinking.  The first example of this was an extendable chimney brush, that allowed adults to sweep chimneys so that children were not shoved up chimneys and in turn could spend their time getting educated and enjoying their childhood safely.  This was a huge social impact and something the RSA continues to strive for today.

The RSA has a big action and research center, called the “Think & Do Tank” and a network of 27,000 “fellows”. They also fun a free public events programme that is similar to TED Talks, based upon contemporary issues and social issues.  This talk has encouraged me to think more about attracting a wider and more diverse audience with my submission for the RSA Animate student design award. Because the aim of RSA “shorts” is to inject inspiration and curiosity into everyday lives of all people.

We were shown the “Gobblynne Animation” that you can see below, RSA Shorts combine real time knowledge visualization techniques to make talks witty and more accessible to the public. The RSA student design awards have been running from 1924 onwards and they are the longest running student design competition.  

Famous winners of RSA Student Design Competitions include:

  • Richard Clark- head of Nike
  • Bill Mogridge- IDEO Head
  • Jonathon Ive- Apple

In 2000 the RSA switched the multidisciplinary briefs that allowed artists and designers to be diverse and try new techniques and mediums. the RSA Slogan was mentioned and it was very powerful ” We cannot NOT change the world” this implies that as designers we can change the way the world is viewed, and improve social issues through design thinking and we should all as designers be foremost thinking of designing for positive impact.

This talk was very informative, especially as we are already working on a submission for the RSA Student Design awards because it allowed us to learn more about what the RSA aim for and their goals, now i know my animation needs to have more of a social impact than i had originally thought and has given me a few ideas for other existing RSA briefs that look interesting.

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The Poundshop


The poundshop is an organisation intent on spreading design to a wide audience by making it affordable and accessible. It was begun in April 2010 by George Wu and Sara Melin with Sarah Gottlieb, it was created when they were discussing how much they loved design orientated shop and it was originally a joke to set up a poundshop.


But it became a huge project and turned into a real exhibition and a huge challenge to set up a poundshop for design. This talk was incredibly inspiring in terms of eleviating the fear of starting your own design business or working for yourself. Because the poundshop is an excellent way of testing out new and interesting products on a small scale with very little risk and low overheads because you only produce on a small scale. They have a pop up shop online that lets people purchase products online, although this has been difficult and had its problems because it was mentioned that postage and packaging for small objects was inneffecient cost wise. But their products have now been sold all over the work and designers who submit work to them some have gone on to design for places like the V&A and Selfridges!

There are many pro’s to setting up business in the way the Poundshop have such as:
low risk because as a pop up shop you don’t pay rent. prices can be small too which can attract buyers, and the Poundshop originally took only 10% because all items were a pound, which is great news for the designers and artists! It also is a benefit to designers because its a way of getting your name out there with minimal risk but clearly a lot of publicity from what is now a very successful company!

It is a shame that the web shop wasn’t as successful with the lower priced products but it’s impressive that this company are willing to try all things to grow their business, sometimes it can be unnerving to go in new directions but this company are willing to take risks, and they take smart risks that have minimal overheads so that in case things go wrong they can still continue to grow in other ways.

How the pound shop works is that it takes submissions from designers for each pop up shop they do, they ask designers to create something that costs no more than 50p to make and can be mass produced and the designer gets to receive 90% of the profits. It needs to be something innovative and a stimulating piece of design and they often have specific themes for their pop up shops, the last two had the themes of “Travel” and “Christmas” and i would love to have submit something to these but they are unfortunately closed now, but i will definitely keep an eye out for the next submission announcement. Below is a list of some of the types of product they accept, the rule is that these products must have an element of functionality to them:

  • notebooks
  • prints
  • cards ( although not many of these are accepted)
  • calenders
  • socks and small clothing items
  • cookware/ dinnerware
  • small furnishings such as cushions
  • posters ( although not many again)
  • jewelry
  • decorations
  • gifts

Sara talked about how important it is that the object being sold is a quality piece of design that isn’t just a thing to buy because its cheap, she spoke about the best things to sell being creative and clever things because you are a creative person trying to sell to other creative people. I really liked how this business runs, because its such a clever idea that benefits designers and the company alike, it takes the pretension out of the business and makes excellent pieces of design accessible for everybody and its something i had never before considered possible on such a cheap scale with so many benefits. Sara’s talk was full of inspiration and encouragement and opened a world of business to me i had considered but found intimidating before, and now i’m motivated to start thinking about my work as not just pieces of art or illustration intended for books and other outlets, but sellable consumer products that can be cleverly designed. I will take from this talk a lot of smart business advice and inspiration from a very enterprising group of people that have continued to grow their business and now have had:

  • 10 shops in places such as Bethnal Green, Somerset House, Selfridges, Manchester and AMAZINGLY : shibuya in Tokyo and now St Petersburg in Russia- this business is really going places and becoming internationally reknowned.

They dont just sell things for a pound anymore because for the business to grow profit had to grow, they now sell things for £1, £5 and £10 and i think this is a reasonable ask because as the prices grow so do the types of products they can sell and where they can sell them. I think being able to sell in such a vibrant city as Tokyo is fantastic and i’d love to submit something to a shop for out there because i think my love for their culture could help me create something that may appeal to Japanese creatives.

Amandine Alessandra

Today was our first Industry Friday talk, from Graphic Designer, Photographer and Publisher Amandine Alessandra. She has 2 MA’s in fine arts and graphics and recently opened her own publishing company, Tower Block Books, in order to publish her book showing the alphabet through architecture, an interesting book for children and artists/ designers alike. We need to review 4 of these industry talks, but i intend to go to most of the talks if not all because i like to cross disciplines and learn things from other areas of the creative industries. It’s also a good opportunity to make new contacts that can help to further my learning and future career. The talk itself, was quite hard to hear because of the huge turnout of students, and being right at the back of the room i could not hear most of what Amandine was saying. So this review will be also based on looking at her website and her publishing website. One of the things i found very interesting from this talk is her practical career information, she speaks highly of Behance, saying how she has been found and commissioned on this site more than once, so i shall definitely be starting a behance which I haven’t previously. I found her very enterprising and passionate about her work, and this passion transcends into how experimental and forward thinking she has been with her work. Especially that of her typographical work using the human body to create an alphabet through the use of coloured sleeves on plain black clothing, so that the people wearing them create the letters with their arms and upper body and can be changed easily. below is an image of this from her series that involved travelling abroad and using her techniques of creating letters, with other languages which i found interesting because i have only ever thought of typography in English, and seeing it used in another language, especially as beautiful a language as Arabic. We learnt alot about how she thinks as a creator, she tries to relate image to language in a very innovative way and tries to use both sides of her brain to create with. The right to understand imagery, and the left to understand abstract concepts and she has the ability to use both to create harmoniously. She created a piece where she made an alphabet from books, using the colours in their spines picked out to create the lettering. She expressed her idea that if you use books to make the word “love” it creates a concept higher than that of just the books used, it expresses a “love of literature” its like she uses materials to create a concept more involved and deep than the material itself, she enhances the message with the materials, rather than the other way around.  She spoke about how typography is stereo typically meant to be clear and easy to understand as to not cloud the message, but she works in a different way in that she prefers her typography to enhance the message and express it more strongly. She likes to work large scale to achieve this impact, she asked herself a very important question that has given me the need to ask myself the same: What work do i want to be known for creating? this is a very important question and i found this talk worth attending for the basis of this question alone, because now i am thinking more deeply about my own work and thinking what do i want to be known for? what do i want to represent me in the industry? Amandine spoke of how it was important to be known for what you want to create, even if you have to do other jobs on the side that are more commercial and less your style. Amandines work is very conceptual, and not what i had expected from someone so enterprising who started her own publishing company which makes her even more of an inspirational figure. She has created many works over the year, starting from when she was a student herself which, should hopefully give me the confidence in my own work to think that even now, whilst studying i could be putting myself out there and starting a career. I’ve got a bit over the necessary 200 words for this review, but i found that what i heard of her talk she is worth more than 200 words, and i could write many more but i will come back to her work at a later stage in my own and keep an eye on her behance and linkedin to see her future projects. below are some final images from her presentation that i really liked, also it shows how popular the talk was!

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