Today we share with you all the work and thoughts of recent Graphic Design graduate Nicola Ball, I saw her work first hand at last month’s ‘Secret Salford Show.’ A show where the talents of Salford Universities graphic design students were on display. I’ve been admirer of her work for a while and it’s a pleasure with you to share Nicola’s thoughts on; working life, university and her plans for the future.
Who is Nicola Ball?
22-year old Graphic Design graduate (well, officially in July!) from Salford. I specialised in communications, but started to delve into motion during my third year at Salford University. During my time at uni, I’ve covered briefs from advertising to creating a new typeface and pushing my ideas in several competition briefs. The third year in uni has taught me mostly about what sort of designer I am and where my strengths lie (copy/print/advertising). I’ve finished uni with a first class honours degree and I am ready to get out there!
I’m also allergic to lemons. It rules out the consumption of some wonderful looking cakes, but that line is always a great icebreaker when meeting new people.
What first inspired you to want to take the creative industries seriously as a career? Which subject first grabbed your attention?
I suppose I was a pretty arty kid. Rather than throwing paint around and getting messy though, I liked things to look good. I remember not wanting to go outside the lines in colouring books and doing one after another, rather than a random picture. Anal perfectionist or designer? I’ll go with designer.
Doing art in school also helped me decide; I wasn’t a fine artist. I didn’t like to sculpt and paint – I liked coming up with ideas. Finally, seeing my brother take the same course at Salford Uni cemented my decision to take design seriously. I attended his exhibitions around the time I was deciding what A-levels to take. I wanted to be the one producing similar work as to what I saw, so I picked Graphic Design.
Who was your first inspiration? Have the designers who inspire your work changed over the years?
When I first started to look at design seriously in college, I went through the phase I think everyone goes through of first being inspired by Si Scott and Andy Warhol. Being a bit of a history lover and studying this too, it got me looking at war propaganda posters from around the world. I particularly liked the Soviet Union posters for their use of colour and relatively simple/bold designs for the time. These early interests have led me to create a bookshelf full of propaganda prints, posters and constructivism books. These have remained constant forms of inspiration. I do always have a main designer who will inspire me, depending on what brief I’m working on.
I am still, and probably always will be, inspired mostly by my peers. Browsing Behance is probably one of the best ways to discover inspirational pieces of work.
What plans and goals have you set for yourself for the next 5 years?
Very immediate plans (next two weeks) are to get all my sale hours at work out of the way. I’m hoping within the next month or so to hear back from those who took a business card at our Secret Salford Show. In the meantime, I’ll be looking for placements and attempting to learn web design (as I chose to look more at motion in uni). An obvious goal for the next 5 years is just to be in a job that I love going to every day… but I hope it doesn’t take 5 years to get there – hopefully it will be less than 1!
What experiences and lessons did you learn from the most at university?
The biggest and best lesson I learnt at uni was that this is the time to take risks in your work, as you won’t often get the opportunity once you’re in a proper design job. I definitely took this to heart with my misinterpreted texts brief and just plastered it with (at first glance) offensive swear words. It has worked to my advantage; it’s always the first project to be commented on and gets some good feedback.
How have your degree and other university shows this summer gone? Have you learnt from the experiences?
Our Secret Salford Show (sssh!) was a massive success and a brilliant few days. We held portfolio surgeries on the last day (where we invited members of the industry down to advise us on our portfolios) I need to say a massive thanks to Code Computerlove for their very positive feedback on my portfolio and great confidence booster.
The Manchester uni degree show was also a lovely sight to see. It just shows you the standard of work being produced from these two uni’s alone. It’s great to see and it makes that talent pool so much richer. The design industry will have difficulty picking from this year’s crop!
What experience do you having in the working world? & what are your plans this summer?
I’ve done a few freelance projects whilst I’ve been at uni, creating logos for clients. In my third year, I’ve done a couple of projects along side Salford based Soup Collective. I completed a music video and a short stop motion piece for a brief they’ve had on the boil for a while.
My main aim over the summer is to get a few placements under my belt, which will hopefully lead on to a full time job. On the side of this, I’m going to undertake a few personal projects I’ve had rattling around but have been too busy to do during the last few months of uni.
What is your typical working environment? Where are you most relaxed when working?
I’ve got the usual set up at home, desk/chair/mac/bookshelf, which suits me fine for getting a job done once an idea is in place. I’m at my best when it comes to idea generation however. I feel most relaxed when I’ve got my sketchbook and fineliner in hand – this part is always the most exciting too as you can find inspiration anywhere. Going to an exhibition or watching a film is all part of the research for an idea!
Is there music on when working? If so, who are your favourite people to be listening to?
Almost always – my ipod is always on my person. I have quite an eclectic mix on my ipod; everything from the american folky tales of Two Gallants to the more psychedelic era of The Beatles. My favourite tunes and people to listen to always tend to change, but I’d never skip an Elbow, Roses or Noel Gallagher tune.
What do you do to switch off away from working?
When you’re a designer, I don’t think you ever fully switch off from it, because design is everywhere. I don’t even just sit on the bus any more, as an interesting advert or badly kerned typography will always catch my eye.
Who are your five favourite people to follow on twitter?
Twitter is something I’ve only just begun to use more frequently. I haven’t really got any favourites, but there are a few people I keep an eye out for:
@OWTcreative for their lovely zines and showcasing some of the best new northwest talent.
@Hellocreatives is great for some top bits of design you might not necessarily come across.
and finally, @Guy_Garvey for some lovely pearls of wisdom every now and then.