As you consider your future careers, it is important to remember that many of the skills that you have learned on CAA are transferable, and you may find yourself walking a different path at some point in the future... Here Dipesh Patel, Graphic and Product Designer at Funko, talks about his journey from university to where he is now.
I studied Graphic Design at university so it was quite a broad course, and one of the important things I learnt was to not just rely on the skills you learn at university but go that extra mile. There were so many designers on my course who would have all been graduating at the same time and applying for jobs at the same time so I had to think of a way to differentiate myself from the other students. I taught myself video editing and animation and this has helped a lot applying for jobs. Employers tend to not only look for someone that is skilled in one area but someone that is flexible, for example one day in my current job I could be working on developing concepts for new products and then the next I could be editing videos. It is always good to develop your own skills in your own time as well as at university.
If you’re still not sure what area of the industry to go into, try and get some internships, even if they are for a few weeks; you will be able to learn a lot about the industry. I originally wanted to go into editorial design but after having a 3week internship with The Sunday Times Magazine, it completely changed what I wanted to do, there was not as much creative freedom so I knew it wasn’t the industry for me.
I would recommend trying to get real world experience because it is a big change to working on university briefs. If you can’t get real world experience be active and create your own briefs and projects to add to your portfolios or show reels. As a designer, you should be passionate about what you’re designing and the best way to do that is to design for yourself, this will also enable you to improve your skills. Always think about how your skills can be used in other areas not only animation, a lot of skills you learn in one area are transferable to different industries, and this will make you stand out more to future employers.
Before you start applying for jobs I would recommend making sure your portfolio/ show reel is only full of work you are proud of and you can talk about with passion. One thing employers hate is when people show them work that they clearly didn’t enjoy doing but put it in to bulk up the portfolio. It isn’t so much about quantity but more about quality of work. When looking for a job try to get one in an area you are interested in and don’t just take the first job that comes up. It will be disheartening when you can’t find one but you don’t want to be stuck in a job where you don’t enjoy the work because it will destroy your passion for design. Also take internships because sometimes those internships can lead to full time jobs.
Also consider if you would like to be freelance or fulltime - with freelance you get more variety in the job and you can pick and choose what you work on but it can be very risky as there is no guarantee that you will have constant work coming to you so you may go months with no work.
I have been fortunate to get a job in an industry I’ve wanted to work in but this obviously wouldn’t happen to everyone so if you are in a job you don’t enjoy keep at it and get the experience because you will still learn new skills and develop as a designer and it will benefit you in the end.
My Work Experience
I didn’t find a job till 3 months after I graduated, but I stuck at it and in the end, was lucky enough to get an internship with a film marketing agency. Like I said earlier, it’s good to have those extra skills because when I went for the interview the agency was impressed with the fact that I knew video editing and animation and that was one of the reasons I got the job.
This internship luckily went onto a full-time job and I was lucky enough to work with film companies like Disney, Universal, Warner Brothers and Fox, creating marketing materials, style guides and producing show reels. A large part of this was also working on events to promote future films for these companies and it was the work on one of these events that led to my next job.
After 2 years at the marketing agency I was able to get a job at a film production company called Legendary. In this job, I did a lot of event design, marketing promotions, creating style guides, building franchises, video editing and 2d Animations. I got to work on a variety of different kinds of projects, and a lot of them to short deadlines so it was a very fast paced environment, and we were only a team of 4 designers so there were a lot of late hours, and working to international times.
Another 4 years later and the Funko job came up and I had to apply, being a huge fan and collector of the figures. I never had experience in product design but because of projects I had done for previous jobs they could see that my skills were transferable to what they needed. Again, with this job I have worked on a variety of different projects from product design, marketing, events and video editing. This job has introduced me to a lot of new things that I didn’t know before, so even after 6 years in the industry I’m still learning.
We actually come up with all the concepts in photoshop and then work with directly with a Chinese team to work on the 3D Turnarounds; they use Maya mainly as it compatible with photoshop. I also have past experience using Maya as again it is a great software to work with After Effects. A great software we sometimes use to create 3d models of event areas is Google SketchUp.
HERE is a link to my the portfolio I used when I was applying for jobs, I would say the layout is very important and you want to have a variety in your portfolio.