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Talking shop: Getting to grips with graphic design at Leeds City College


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For a few years now, LITTLE has given talks and workshops to students at various colleges and universities, imparting industry know-how and experience to the next generation.


2021’s talks were virtual, but this year we finally got the chance to go into the classrooms and chat face-to-face with the budding students. The most recent talk was taken by me, Sam, Senior Designer and Ben, our Digital Designer. It was attended by first and second-year graphic design students from Leeds City College.

We began with a run-through of who LITTLE are, our services, the areas we work in and our values. Just like work experience, these talks can help give those approaching the start of their careers a small insight into what life at an agency is like. We feel it’s important to stay connected to education, to inspire and motivate students. Giving them a real sense of what the industry is like, as its very different to university or college courses.

It was then followed by a show and tell session of a few large branding projects to show how we roll out a brand from start to finish across various channels. We talked through the various processes that went on to create the work and any challenges we faced throughout the projects.

We then showed that not all the work we do is serious and for clients, there is time to have fun and create GIFs and animations for our own social media. This showed the students that obviously it’s a serious industry that needs to make money for clients, but it is still a creative one where fun things can happen to boost your creativity that can then be applied to client work.

Next, we set the students an apprentice-style brainstorming session in groups. They had 30 minutes to come up with a brand idea for a company within the food & drink, beauty & lifestyle or finance industries.


Once the time was up, we went around the class and the groups presented their ideas and thoughts, there was a wide range of concepts. From recyclable beauty companies to a yoga-based finance app. It was good to see the thought processes and how quickly the students could come up with ideas and articulate them to the class.

After that, we did a very informal portfolio critique. A few of the students were eager to get advice and tips on how to improve their work and how it was presented in their portfolios. As designers, portfolios are often the first thing a potential employer or client will look at, and as we know, first impressions count.

Critiques offer a chance to improve your “first impression” and hone your portfolio. In fact, taking on board critiques or criticisms and making effective changes are vital aspects of being a successful graphic designer. Sometimes it’s practical to have your work critiqued; being too close can cloud a critical eye, and an outside or experienced viewpoint can find blind spots you may have otherwise missed.

Likewise, learning from those with more experience is always incredibly useful and can point a budding designer in the right direction, especially if you’re interested in targeting specific roles.

Benefits of a portfolio critique:

  • Taking critique and acting on it is an important skill to develop
  • Getting an outside view of the work that’s close to you can be useful to improve it
  • Gaining knowledge from people in industry is invaluable
  • It refines your work down to its very best
  • It can help tailor the work to specific job roles


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