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Nana Kwadwo Darfoor’s UAL experience goes Full Circle

Nana wearing a red cap and salmon shirt standing in a park looking over his shoulder
  • Written byArts Temps
  • Published date 04 July 2022
Nana wearing a red cap and salmon shirt standing in a park looking over his shoulder

In this blog, Nana reflects on how his experiences studying on the MSc Creative Computing course and of working for Shades of Noir as an Arts Temp enabled him to gain a permanent role in the UAL Brand Team as UI Designer.

I studied MSc Creative Computing at the Creative Computing  Institute (CCI); whilst on the course, my supervisor recommended that I apply for a role advertised on Arts Temps with Shades of Noir. Shades of Noir is an organisation within UAL with the moral obligation of creating opportunities for marginalised groups and their need for safe spaces in education and society.

I was successful in my application and worked as Web Developer for Shades of Noir for one year.

Working with the people at Shades of Noir felt like a privilege because they worked with such an intentional purpose to create more representation and inclusion in UAL. You would think as a web developer there is not much impact I can make, but Aisha Richards, Director of SoN, highlighted in a staff meeting that “we are a cohesive unit, and everyone’s role is important and that’s what makes the difference.”

Other than the financial support which eases student life, being a part of Shades of Noir was one of the most purposeful experiences I have been a part of. I would suggest everyone and especially people of colour and the minority, or if you're someone who just wants to   make a difference, to get acquainted with Shades of Noir, it is a great part of UAL and they are always more than welcoming!

Even before joining SoN, the support they gave to the minority in all facets, academically, socially and otherwise appealed to me, especially as a Black British man. SoN also understood I was a student first, always making sure I prioritised my academic work and was very supportive with work time flexibility.

As a student who wanted to get the whole UAL experience, there were a lot of small roles advertised on Arts Temps I was interested in. One of my favourite things to date might be  the “We Are UAL” film, which featured shots of me working in CCI, showcasing the Institute to the public.

Lastly, being a Creative Technician for Talent Works, an initiative led by London College of Communication was yet another amazing experience. I was given the opportunity to chaperone and advice groups of students who were building a range of creative and communication projects for local charities and social enterprises. In this chapter I was proud to be “using my powers for good”. It was a really holistic fortnight.

On the whole, being a UAL student for a year and three months was more than enough time to get to do all these exceptional opportunities. A takeaway from all my experiences with Arts Temps is the discipline of balance. At every moment I was a student first, but I did have goals I wanted to achieve, and Arts Temps helped me do this. I did have to be disciplined enough to tackle all I had assigned up for, maintaining a good balance and not allowing myself to falter in my pursuit for a masters or any of the opportunities I undertook

It is wonderful to see how things have come full circle, with me employed as a full time UI Designer in the Branding and Creative Services team of UAL - from student to graduate to employee. Even more so working heavily on the revamp of the Graduate Showcase platform to allow students get an even better transition from graduate to employment.

Arts Temps allowed me to develop in a tangential way, I can only encourage anyone to explore  the opportunities or the unknowns that it presents; it has been more than worth it for me.

Written by: Nana Kwadwo Darfoor

UI Designer, University of the Arts London

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