Digital Arts case study

Michael Hutchinson - FdA Web Design (now FdA Visual Communications)
Designer - Hedgehog Lab

Why did you choose to study at Newcastle College?

I liked that it was more accessible in the UCAS entry point requirement aspect, but also that it could get me into work quicker. I could do two years instead of committing to three years. My best friends brother also did the course and highly recommended it.

Did you have the opportunity to go on a work placement as part of your course/what skills did you gain as a result?

In the first year we worked on live briefs, meaning we learned to work remotely, much as a freelancer might do so that was a good insight. In the second year I had a placement in Orangebus which meant I got to know people in a renowned company. It led to a job as a junior designer but I had expressed an interest in doing mobile focused work and Ray (from Hedgehog Lab) emailed me to offer an interview for this job which I of course gladly took.

What was the highlight for you?

I really enjoyed the mobile app module because we got to work on a brief for Gospelware and also had the chance to pick the app we wanted to work on, so it was nice to get a chance to boost your marks doing something of your own interest rather than just set pieces.

Were there any enrichment activities available on your course?

There were group trips to lots of companies like Gospelware, Orangebus and Hedgehog Lab which were great for networking. Also guest speakers came in to talk about a variety of subjects. 

Now that you’re employed, what does your role entai

There’s a fair bit of client relations work at the start to get a project off the ground. I find out what message they want to get across first and then we focus on the design and user experience. Sometimes a brief might have tight specifications, other times there might be more room for creativity, but it’s great to work for a company that really cares. In the past Hedgehog Lab has absorbed some of the costs on a project to make sure that it’s right. Everything is a real group effort here.

Any advice for students thinking about the FdA in Digital Design at Newcastle College?

When the opportunities to meet employers arise (and they will) either on visits or conferences and so on, speak up, show an interest so that you don’t fade into the background. Ask questions, make a good first impression because you never know, they could potentially employ you in the future.