Yonder / Eddie Opara: Online Forums

GMD students had two interesting online encounters with industry professionals recently. Second year student, Mary Adekoya, sums up for us what she took away from both events.

Looking Yonder, Tuesday 9th March

Yonder Consulting creates stunning visual identities, engaging branded experiences and compelling digital experiences. Ed Bolton, Head of Creative, and some of his team (including GMD alumni, Hwasoo Shim and Benedict Povey) hosted a session to help demystify the industry and provide an opportunity for students across the Design School to ask questions in an informal online setting.

What I found particularly interesting was the 5 portfolio tips that were given by some members of the Yonder Consulting London team. The first one was to let your ideas lead your design, not vice versa, and to always show my creative thinking when discussing my work. Two is to be yourself and talk about work that really interest you and show what I can offer. Three is to have some basic skills in coding and motion as it is becoming more important in the industry to have a wide skill set. Four is to build soft skills in communicating, in order to become a valued member of the team. Lastly, five is work ethic – always be engaged.

To listen to what design firms look for during an interview has been very beneficial. As I am currently a second year Graphic and Media Design student planning on undertaking a Diploma in Professional Studies in my third year, I found the 5 portfolio tips super useful. Things that I need to consider as I start looking for internships are writing cover letters and designing my portfolio.

Finally, what resonated with me and what I will take away from the talk are these three points that I can apply to any scenario but specifically for any internship – be a good designer, be a nice person and show initiative. 

Mary Adekoya

Eddie Opara: Critical Forum, Thursday 11th March

Eddie Opara’s talk was part of GMD’s regular Critical Forum series. Opara studied graphic design at LCC when it was the London College of Printing, before going on to a postgraduate MFA at Yale University. He began his career as a designer at ATG and Imaginary Forces and worked as a senior designer/art director at 4 before establishing his own studio, The Map Office. He joined Pentagram’s New York office as partner in 2010.

Opara has won numerous awards including a Gold Cube from the Art Directors Club and honours from D&AD, the Society for Experiential Graphic Design (SEGD), Type Directors Club, Tokyo Type Directors Club, the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) and Communication Arts. His work is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art and has appeared in publications such as Wired, Fast Company, Creative Review, ArchisSurface and Graphis.

Opara recently authored a book, Color Works, published by Rockport. He was named one of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business in 2012 and 2014, and was featured in Ebony Magazine’s Power 100 and Adweek’s Creative 100.

What I found particularly interesting from Opara’s talk was the focus on low-budget community work that he showcased. I think it is often easy to expect big budget design work from such a well-known design firm like Pentagram. However, Opara deliberately focused on showing the work he has created within the black community; for example, Green Africa Airline based in Lagos, Nigeria. As a fellow Nigerian, it was interesting to hear about some of Opara’s upbringing and the similarities of studying a creative subject from a Nigerian family background. It was great to see how his upbringing influences his work that covers a range of subjects and techniques. From signs for museums, to aircraft design, to editorial book designs.

What resonated with me from Eddie Opara’s talk was the passion he showed when discussing his work and his high engagement with his projects, with a strong interest in how the outcome would impact society. I found that quite inspiring. 

Mary Adekoya

(A recording of Eddie Opara’s talk will be made accessible in due course to current GMD students only here.)

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