Pharmacist turns graphic designer?


New Member
Hi guys,

I recently left my job (3 weeks ago) in hope for a change in career. I have always been good at art and design (I think) and do bits in my spare time, however the only qualification I have is GCSE Art.

I was recommended a few courses at Blake Art college by a friend, however last year they moved site and apparently it is not what it used to be, and this is also the impression I got from my visit. I left my job thinking this was where I was going and now I'm lost.

Where does one start?! Ive seen the Shillington college website however it is alot of money and the mixed reviews does make the decision any easier. Would it be better to go to Uni? Ive read some Threads from a few years ago and alot seem to say its about the portfolio does that still stand?

Do qualifications matter still? If so where do I start??


If you can get into a Uni then that would definitely be the best route to take. Do qualifications matter still? Of course they do! It saddens me when people argue otherwise, or make out like they are not important. Qualifications and a good portfolio work hand in hand, both are important. Qualifications say much more about a person than just what grade they got at the end. But I understand not everyone can get into Uni or afford to go to one, in which case by all means focus on building your portfolio. Having a decent portfolio of work is a no brainer, with or without qualifications. Some companies won't even look at your portfolio if you don't have a decent degree level qualification. The last company I worked for doesn't even bother looking at portfolio's unless the potential employee has at least a 2:1 degree level.
Thank you for your response! I'm 25 and feel like the uni ship has sailed... 3 years at uni and a debt of nearly 30k AND the big possibility that I may not get a job at the end of it. I'm trying to weigh up the pros and cons. Where did you study? and what did you study? and another crappy thing is that I believe all university intakes are done for september. :(
No problem. Ok first of all you are 25 not 55, that ship hasn't even left the dock yet! There are people in their 40s that decide to finally go and study at uni. If you get into uni in the next year or two, you'd graduate before you are even 30! I understand where you are coming from with regards to debt, but that is the 'gamble' if you like. If you don't take certain risks in life, there is only so far you can go. If you are positive and confident in yourself, that 'risk' becomes smaller and smaller. Also, you only start paying that debt dependent on your earnings. If you don't earn a certain amount, (can't remember the £££ off the top of my head) you don't pay anything until you do. I went to uni 10 years ago, the fees were far too expensive back then, but not as much as 30K luckily, so I really do feel for students nowadays, it is a tough one, but the experience and what you will learn is invaluable. Plus people and companies tend to take a designer who is qualified, far more serious than one who is not. That goes for any profession if you think about it.

I went to London Metropolitan University and studied BA Graphic Design. Can you not enrol in January 2016 and in the mean time gain some work experience? Or even better, if it's not too late (shouldn't be) get onto a Foundation degree course in Art & Design at a college, that would be ideal preparation for going to uni and give you a better change of being accepted onto the course. I stayed on an extra year at college and took that course, it was so much fun and allows you to try your hand at everything to figure out your strengths and weakness' and what you enjoy most, basically starts to give you an idea of the direction you want to go in. After doing that course, you might decide, actually rather than graphic design, you want to be an illustrator, or an animator, or a surface designer etc etc.
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I have been looking at foundation courses too, but more as a way of getting a portfolio together and like you said helping me to decide what I want to do. Also how likely is it to get an internship? (with no experience) or something along those lines??
Oh yes that as well, it was very helpful in putting together a portfolio.

I think it depends on the internship, some may want you to have a bit of experience in terms of you at least studying the subject, but that's about as far as it goes. The whole point of internships is to gain experience, they are not expecting you to know everything you are doing, they are expecting you to learn on the job and be able to help out, show willingness, interest in their company and be keen - enthusiasm with a can do attitude. Basically all the usual stuff. I think a lot of internships hire on those merits and personality more than anything.
whats your opinion on shillington? or would short courses at for example central st martins on adobe ill/indesign etc be more useful?

Its having motivation to be a go getter that I am currently finding difficult. I have been on a structured career path since 17 - alevels --> pharmacy masters --> pre-registration --> a job ---> clinical diploma... etc. and now its researching -- endless researching and not finding anything thats so demotivating.

This is why I thought 3 months at a college like shillington, thats structured with teachers and students, would be good for me... almost comforting.
Hi Miscott

I perfectly understand you because I am in the same situation. I left my job in Sales and Accounting in Italy to focus on Interior Design and change my career. I made a mistake at University because, even though I was good in Communication and Marketing, it doesn't reflect my real attitude.

I have had a look at Shillington College too, but it is a lot of money I know. Now I am looking at KLC School of Design but I think I will go to Open Days before enroll.

KLC 21th March
Shillington in the first day of the month as well

If you have information please get in touch, I really need advises since I am quite new here. I hope to hear from you soon!