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Where am I?

Is this the definitive place for graphic design banter? :icon_biggrin:

My name is Gary and I'm a newbie on here. Long story short - my passions at school were design and favourite class was graphic communication. Uni afforded me a freedom which I abused and overindulged. Eleven years down the line, I am armed with a Psychology degree and, I'm pretty sure, a less functional liver, but feel myself returning to my first love and attempting to carve out a career.

I have been self-teaching for the most part but I feel like I need to undertake some sort of structured learning to really get to grip with the basics. I have been looking at the Shillington College (Manchester) for days and wondering if it is worth the outlay? I am at the stage now where every financial decision will impact hugely on the rest of my life so if I am going to be spending almost £6000 on a 3 month course, I want it to be worthwhile.

I would appreciate any views which any forum members could spare the time to offer.

I have a profile on Behance at Gary Wai-man Kwok's Profile and a FB page at We Pure Design | Facebook as I begin to try and put together a portfolio.

Thank you for your time, folks, I've been great. :icon_tongue_smilie:

Paul Murray

Staff member
Welcome to the forums. Don't be put off, it's pretty quiet around here at the weekends.

We've had a few people asking similar questions you've asked, including about Shillington, so a forum search may yield some useful information.

Generally I think most people would concur that you can't learn design in 3 months (plus I've heard from some people that Shillington focuses a lot more on the software side of design than the fundamentals), but saying that, some people pick things up quicker than others.

University courses are less about being taught design, and are focussed more on self development, critical thinking and getting you ready to go out there into the world of design. You can't really do that in 3 months.

The best advice I can give you is to try and speak to a few people who have taken a course at Shillington and see how they're doing now.
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Hi Paul, thank you!

That's what I was concerned about - the critical thinking and self-development aspect. I have been trying to find the appropriate books to give me a wee bit of a start in that respect but have hit a bit of a wall. I can see that Shillington is very much geared towards software (90% InDesign, if an ex-student's blog is accurate) and that would be beneficial to me in maximising my novice skills for portfolio reasons. And having looked at various portfolios from Shillington graduates, the work looks impressive. However, this is without knowing much about those particular students' academic background - for all I know, they may have a design degree already (but then, would these guys then go on to do what is essentially a portfolio course for almost 6 grand)?

So many questions, I know...
A few books I can recommend to get going with, whilst you make up your mind (I can't help you with the main problem but this I can, a little)

Good advertising books...for making you think outside the box...
A Smile in the Mind: Witty Thinking in Graphic Design
Advertising is Dead: Long Live Advertising! by Tom Himpe and Will Collin
Creative Advertising: Ideas and Techniques from the World's Best Campaigns by Mario Pricken

A couple of typography books...
Typo: The Beautiful World of Fonts (Design Book) by Josep Maria Minguet and Fabiola Reyes
Type and Typography (Portfolio) by Phil Baines and Andrew Haslam

A good logo book...
Logo by Michael Evamy

A classic... (but may be better buying this after a bit of study)
Grid Systems in Graphic Design: A Handbook for Graphic Artists, Typographers, and Exhibition Designers by Josef Muller-Brockmann

Two very good books for anyone in the field of art...
What Good are the Arts? by John Carey
Ways of Seeing (Penguin Modern Classics) by John Berger

And a good advice book...
How to be a Graphic Designer, Without Losing Your Soul by Adrian Shaughnessy

Hope that helps there are millions more but these are really good ones. :)


Well-Known Member
must say that I feel a tad rejected by the lack of response to my "hello" :icon_confused:
Did you look out of the window at all over the weekend? The weather has been awesome. Why would we be sat inside behind a computer when there has been sunshine and beer to enjoy??

Anyhoo, back to work today, so WELCOME TO THE FORUM :icon_tongue_smilie:


Well-Known Member
Did you look out of the window at all over the weekend? The weather has been awesome. Why would we be sat inside behind a computer when there has been sunshine and beer to enjoy??

Anyhoo, back to work today, so WELCOME TO THE FORUM :icon_tongue_smilie:
Welcome to GDF.

Was raining oop north in Blackpool :icon_crying:

Anway, I wouldn't waste £6000 on a 3 month course that like Paul said, is really only going to teach you how to use the software. You can do that for free buying books online, or even through online tutorials.

The good thing about a uni course, is they teach you how to look at things. Imagery, signs, people etc.. break them apart and see why they have been designed they way they have. Why they're in the places they are etc.. Weirdly, I enjoyed the contextual side of my course, where everyone else hated it. But without that side, I don't think I'd have a clue.

If you want to spend a little money on a course, and don't want to do a full time course for 3 years, why not to a part time degree. That way at least you'll have half of the week to work, and half to study.
And I have had my reservations about the usefulness of the course because in 6 months, I have went from not touching any Adobe applications before in my life to knowing a lot of shortcuts and likes for Photoshop and Illustrator (although I admit the InDesign knowledge would be good). But £6000 to learn to use InDesign is a bit steep methinks.

Having wasted so much time, I am keen not to waste much more, although I fully understand that design is not a field which can be learned on a whim and I am willing to put in 24 hours a day work if it means getting to grips with the industry as quick as possible! (I've grown up!)

On that note, there is a course offered by Interactive Design Institute (or something?) on graphic design for a full BA Honours. Are there any other distance learning courses/part-time courses which you kind fellas can recommend/suggest I take a look at? Scotland seems to be devoid of much quality in this area sadly.


Well-Known Member
If I'm honest, I've never known or heard Scotland to have any good design courses. But then I've never bothered looking. Might be an idea to get in touch with some universities and get some prospectuses (prospectai??) - never needed to say prospectus in plural!!

Someone on here may be able to vouch for a decent designed related course up there but sorry to say I can't.