Shana Lohrey is an graduate of BA (Hons) Illustration and Visual Media at London College of Communication. Shana talks to us about completing the Diploma in Professional Studies year, including working for a design studio in Japan and with Sudanese refugees in Calais.
year, including working for a design studio in Japan and with Sudanese refugees in Calais.
Which course did you study at LCC?
I studied BA (Hons) Illustration and Visual Media.
Tell us about your current role and what you're currently working on.
I recently completed a year as part of a Young Freelancer Development Program at the London Transport Museum. I'm now taking a TEFL course and learning to become a freelance illustrator by working on a few personal projects.
What made you choose the Diploma in Professional Studies (DPS) opportunity?
I wanted to know and see what it could be like to work in a professional environment and see the different approaches in work styles that were possible as an illustrator/visual designer. I also wanted the chance to work in and shadow the studios and artists that inspire me so I could understand how they approached their practice or projects and also learn the practical skills of running their creative business.
The DPS allowed me to work abroad as well. I really wanted to experience what it felt like to adapt your work if you were on the move, and face the challenges, strengths and weaknesses that you would meet in changing environments.
Where did you go for your DPS year? Tell us a little bit about your experience:
For my first placement I worked at the Graphic design studio, Akaoni in Northern Japan. I worked as an In-house illustrator. My tasks included drawing illustrations for magazines, drawing on location with the team and working with graphic designers on packaging designs using mostly ink, lino and Adobe Suite.
I was also able to work as a background artist and animator, for Loup Blaster, a Calais-based animator. Originally I worked remotely from home, and sent work through email, eventually I was invited to help her on her animated documentary, using reportage to following the lives of a group of Sudanese refugees living within the ‘Calais jungle’ in France.
I had the opportunity to work on a few shorter print-based briefs throughout the year, facilitate at workshops and submit to a few zine fairs and competitions as well as work on a few personal project briefs.
What's the most important thing you learned from doing the DPS year?
Having the additional classes on how to build a portfolio and gain feedback as a group was really helpful since we did not have this opportunity in our regular course. A portfolio was the main key to applying and communicating with employers. It was also really good to realise that a portfolio constantly changes as you grow so it is important to find methods to make it easy to update and edit as you progress.
I learned that you are also accountable to finding and pursing the opportunities you want, they won’t always come to you. If you have studios and artists that the university has no prior connection with, build them yourself and reach out. The work experiences that you have initiated yourself will be the most rewarding, and potentially lead to a life-long friendships.
Also, always having personal projects and carrying a small sketchbook helped fill in the quiet months. It helped me to store possible project ideas and prepare for opportunities through always putting a little time aside for research and browsing.
How did DPS alter your future ambitions?
It is hard to say how DPS has altered my future ambitions because it is always changing and adapting as I develop and learn new things.
When working with professionals, studio directors, and freelance animators/illustrators, I was surprised and grateful to learn that they also consider themselves to always be developing, changing and learning about themselves.
So goals are good, but don’t feel pressured to have to define yourself, and if you do, know that you are allowed to change these ambitions as you expand your interests, reflect and develop.
Would you recommend a DPS year to other students and if so, why?
Send emails and be fearless! Don't get disheartened if you don't hear back, or get to work with your dream studios and artists. Perseverance is important, but also maintaining an openness to take opportunities with different places and people. Its important to learn and experience things you might not like as well as the things you love.
It is self-exploratory and everyone will have slightly different opportunities and circumstances, so DPS is a year for you to experience things and understand how you work and navigate around obstacles, and figure out the things you may not have the time during your degree. Also, make a list of competitions and creative fairs over the course of the year that you can get involved in which can also bring in some funding and motivation.
What advice would you give to students applying for the DPS year?
It can be hard to juggle the tasks from the additional DPS classes and your degree coursework but it rewarding if you can stick through it. Since the classes during the DPS application stage gives you industry advice, portfolio and cv practice it is all relevant information that you can feed back into your personal development.
What was the best thing about your time at LCC and why?
The Facilities, technicians and the DPS year. There were so many facilities in the University which are amazing spaces to explore. The printing facilities and animation rooms were gems to me once I found them, and the technicians really were fountains of knowledge that could push your projects into new avenues.
Don’t let them scare you away if you make a mistake, they are there to support your learning and creative wellbeing. The DPS year is unique to LCC and is an amazing opportunity to connect with people across the university, build networks and get the most of your degree experience.
Is there a particular person who shaped your university experience or creative outlook?
I was a ping pong ball bouncing off everyone I could, I felt like every person had something valuable to share with me that allowed me to grow my creative perspective. However, I would say my tutors in final year, Sarah Temple, the print and book arts technicians, my friends, and meetings and conversations with students on other courses were the ones that shaped my university experience and supported me.
Where do you go for inspiration?
Drawing from life, world documentaries, collecting random things, looking at picture books, open access lectures around London, listening to people talk about their stories and observing things when I take walks.
What does your workspace look like? Do you have a studio?
I still live and work from home, in my parent's living-room, or I hot desk around London. It can get pretty messy and crowded and I have realised I need two desks to work in order to move back and forth when I need a little change in scenery. One day I hope to have a little studio space of my own.
View the BA (Hons) Illustration and Visual Media course page
Find out more about the Diploma in Professional Studies