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Developing design skills on the Graphics Folio Online Short Course

Student work by Mahshid Salehnezhad
  • Written byCarys Thomas
  • Published date13 June 2022
Student work by Mahshid Salehnezhad
Student work by Mahshid Salehnezhad

Designed to offer students a solid foundation in graphic communication design practice, the 14-week Graphics Folio Online Short Course is a good choice for anyone looking to develop a high-quality portfolio for future academic application or ongoing professional development.

To find out more about the course and how it can support students with an interest in this area, we caught up with two former students to hear about their experience. We’ll hear about their current projects and share some of the brilliant work they produced on the course.

Are you working on a graphic design portfolio at the moment? Take a look at our guide on what employers look for in a graphic design portfolio for some top tips on how to make your work stand out from the crowd. You may also want to read more about how to create a graphic design portfolio.

I truly feel this course changed me as a person and as a future designer. I learnt how to listen to my intuition. I’m more curious about the design world and I learnt how to express my thoughts and intentions.

— Alona Angel, Short Course Student

Nurturing creativity

23-year-old, Alona Angel, is currently preparing to make the move from her home in Israel to London, where she will study BA Graphic Communication Design at Central Saint Martins. “After high school graduation, I completed my national service and planned to travel the world, but then COVID-19 changed everything,” she tells us. “So instead of travelling, I started to work in an interior design company. A couple of months later, I was lucky to do an internship with one of the Israel’s leading fashion designers.”

Alona’s lifelong passion for art and design recently brought her to the Graphics Folio Online Short Course. Determined to forge a career in the arts, Alona was hoping to develop her skills and develop a strong portfolio to showcase her work. “It has always been very important to me to pursue this passion and make it my career,” she said.

Alona is currently working on a book about the history of art with her uncle, an avid art collector, and enjoys sharing her passion with others. “My uncle has been an art enthusiast and art collector for over 40 years,” she tells us, “together, we are writing a book about the history of art. This opportunity exposed me even more to the history of art, enriched my knowledge and boosted my enthusiasm. I found myself learning a lot from my uncle's experience and character.”

Creative beginnings

Like Alona, former Graphics Folio student Mahshid Salehnezhad, recalls having an interest in art and design as a child. “I’ve always had a strong interest in art and design since childhood,” she said, “I studied Graphic Design for two years in Iran before moving to London to continue studying. I took a short course in Fashion Design and also 18 weeks of portfolio preparation at Central Saint Martins.”

Mahshid currently works as a Graphic Designer at Rika Group, where she designs content for social media and works on advertising campaigns. The company have recently opened a new restaurant which Mahshid has helped to promote online; “I work on designing their social media pages and I teach the way to photograph the dishes in the most effective way, showing the freshness and all the attraction of the cookery,” she says.

New perspectives

Both Alona and Mahshid enjoyed the opportunity to discover new approaches, ideas and perspectives while on the Graphics Folio course. For Mahshid, the collaborative environment was very inspiring, “I was surrounded with creative people which motivated and encouraged me to be a better version of myself during the course,” she says. “My mind became more open after hearing the opinions and critics of the others, and I presented more professional work with every session.”

Alona also found hearing different perspectives helpful. “It was interesting to be exposed to new people, approaches and ideas,” she tells us, “I received different opinions and critics and learned to state mine. The people on this course were the greatest gift. I learned a lot from them professionally and we stayed in touch via social media.”

Student work by Alona Angel
Student work by Alona Angel

Embracing challenges

On the Graphics Folio course, students work on a series of challenging design briefs supported by group workshops and crits, with feedback sessions throughout. Alona and Mahshid both enjoyed taking on new challenges while on the course, and felt they learnt a lot by expanding their horizons and tackling new projects.

“The course gave me the opportunity to learn more about the different subjects and projects because it was comprehensive and full of new challenges,” says Mahshid. “I really enjoyed the different challenges and tasks on this course as they allowed me to be more myself and express my personal feelings in my works and use different techniques.”

Alona found that completing different tasks boosted her confidence as she expanded her skills. “I enjoyed the challenging briefs and discovered a lot about myself through them,” she said. “I like trying different kinds of mediums. My self-confidence as a designer got a massive boost, and that is the most important thing for me. I learnt new skills such as printmaking and playing around with typography, which I’m continuing to practice.”

Developing new skills

One of the most rewarding aspects of taking a short course is seeing how far you have progressed by the end, whether that it’s in the new skills you have gained or the new techniques you have tried. The work Alona produced on the course helped her secure a place at Central Saint Martins, for example. “I truly feel this course changed me a lot as a person and as a future designer," she says. "As a designer, I frequently open my eyes to find inspiration. I learnt how to listen to my intuition. I’m more curious about the design world and I learnt how to express my thoughts and intentions.”

For Mahshid, the course was a good opportunity to develop a professional portfolio and build on her design software skills. “The course helped me develop my understanding of graphic design and when I finished my portfolio, it gave me rewarding feeling because I could see the next level of my works.”

Mahshid is particularly proud of an animation project she completed while on the course. “I was inspired by a Persian poem that I came across recently and I described it through an animation,” she explains. “The project was about stopping animal cruelty in the fashion industry. It was the first time that I created an animation so I knew it would be great challenge. I drew all the different stages of the motion and then I put the pictures all together to make the animation.”

Are you thinking about a career in graphic design?

Whether you want to brush up your skills, build a knock-out portfolio or just try something new, our range of communication and graphic design short courses can help you achieve your goals.

Take a look at our upcoming short courses for more information.

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