Published on November 27, 2013 | by Danil Boparai & Matthew Hook


Life After University

Former LCF student Louie Banks (right) left his course after a year to pursue photography full-time [courtesy of Louie Banks]

UAL graduates have been making waves throughout the creative industries for decades. But when you are working hard on your own degree it can get a little overwhelming and you might forget just what you’re working towards.

ALN spoke to some recent inspirational graduates and students to give you a little reminder of what’s out there for you after graduation.


University can be an excellent way to get your foot in the professional door, but it isn’t for everyone. Louie Banks is a fashion and portrait photographer who calls the likes of Daisy Lowe, Ellie Goulding, Rita Ora and Iggy Azalea his clients. He decided to leave his course at LCF after a year and to try and make it on his own, and it paid off. He talked with us about his reasons for leaving and how he fared in the real world without a degree.

ALN: Did you find it difficult to find work, or to be taken seriously after deciding to leave university?

Louie Banks: I found it difficult for a while to have a reliable source of income, but being taken seriously was never a problem. I have never been asked by a client if I have a degree or any credentials, and I know that any student friends of mine who are doing some work on the side would never mention their status as students, as it would be counter-productive.

Do you keep in touch with people you met at UAL, personally or professionally?

I have friends from halls, but I didn’t really make many friends on the course and I definitely didn’t meet anyone professionally through it. I do keep up with what some of the other students are doing though, and I’m always pleased to see one of their names pop up somewhere.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received, and what advice would you pass on to students?

There isn’t one significant piece that has stood out; it’s really been a case of learning over time. Having confidence but not arrogance is always good, try not to sell yourself short but also try and keep clients happy. It’s always difficult to find that balance.

What was it like being a student at UAL and living in London?

Student halls were a great way to socialise. I made some of my best friends and by the time I had to get a flat and start living without a loan I was working more regularly. The worst part was most of the actual education process. Pretty much everyone disliked the course. I thought a lot of it was time wasting and there wasn’t enough of a hands-on approach; I was already working as a photographer and getting pretty good jobs so I found it irritating being told “you need to know this if you ever want to make money or go somewhere with photography.”

What is your proudest achievement so far?

I guess whenever I stumble across my work by accident it’s nice, flicking through a magazine or seeing a poster or billboard in a street, it’s quite a humbling experience.



Matt Gardner studied Graphic Design at CSM before becoming the art director at Flying Horse Jeans [courtesy of Matt Gardner]

After graduating in Graphic Design at CSM, Matt found work as an art director for Flying Horse Jeans, an American and Japanese heritage denim company. We chatted about late night cramming and networking in the city.

Did you find it difficult to find work after graduating?

Not really. During my time at UAL I managed to network with the right people and did a lot of freelance work which eventually landed me a job.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received, and what advice would you pass on to students or recent graduates?

The best advice I have ever received was to work hard and play hard. My advice to young graduates would be the same; work as hard as you can whilst at university but make sure you enjoy it, go wild before life catches up with you.

What is your proudest achievement so far?

I’ve been quite fortunate to do a lot of things quite early on as a designer; however, I wouldn’t see them as achievements quite yet. Every project is a stepping-stone on to bigger things. I think life is too short to get absorbed by what you’ve done. When I’ve done a piece of work I’m pretty proud of it, but I’m always focused on trying to better it next time around.

What was it like being a student at UAL and living in London?

It was a lot of late nights with endless hours of work, followed by a lot of whiskey and idiotic dancing. The best part for me was meeting like – minded people and networking with industry peers. The worst was the cost of everything.

What are your goals for the future?

To keep working on exciting design projects and to buy a motorcycle.



Joshua Harris

Joshua Harris found design work whilist waiting tables at The Breakfast Club, following graduation [Joshua Harris]

Josh, a recent graduate who studied at Camberwell and Central St Martins, spoke to us about life after university, working as a freelance signwriter and graphic designer and his sign paintings for London’s popular The Breakfast Club.

Did you find it difficult to find work after graduating?

To be quite honest, I wasn’t looking especially hard for design work at the time I graduated; I was more focused on paying my rent back at a property at King’s Cross. I was working full-time as a waiter at The Breakfast Club in Angel, and offered to design one of the ‘A’ Boards outside the restaurant. The boss happened to like it so much that he offered me the weekly task of designing all of their boards across London. I subsequently created my ‘THEABOARDUDE’ Twitter/Instagram account and it blew up from there.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received, and what advice would you pass on to students or recent graduates?

I don’t live by a specific phrase but more of a general understanding that there’s no rush. A lot of people I’ve encountered are all under the impression they should be succeeding in their goals the moment they leave uni. With my work, I cannot rush. It takes time to perfect. Thus with life I do the same. You do eventually find the work you’re looking for.

What drives you to keep pursuing your dreams?

Knowing that typography is timeless. People will always need it as a means of communication. I’ve been fortunate enough to have landed in a kind-of renaissance for hand-rendered type and traditional practices in sign writing. I’m able to do what I enjoy and still keep the work going.

What was it like being a student at UAL and living in London?

My usual destinations were exhibitions and galleries as well as clubs and restaurants, which were all in walking distance from tube stations. I’m still discovering new places around the city, which inspire and fulfill my interests. But, I think it’s a unanimous consensus that no one enjoys rush hour on the tube. I get by quite easily these days, but back when you’re just starting out and you’re lugging a portfolio as heavy as a dustbin through King’s Cross and don’t have a clue where you’re going, it’s pretty stressful.

What are your goals for the future?

To work in and own a studio. My best friend and I hope to set up a collaborative design duo within the next year or two, producing media – from print to moving image.



ALN spoke to Holly, a BA Creative Advertising Strategy graduate from LCC and creator of the hilarious Twats on Tinder website, about finding work in the advertising industry and interning abroad.

What inspired you to set up Twats on Tinder?

As my job requires constant idea generation, it’s hard to switch off. Usually it is a big idea I don’t have the means to achieve, but occasionally a small idea pops into my head and I give it a go. It’s important to do personal projects to show that you’re motivated and interested outside of work, so it was a great opportunity to exhibit that.

The blog has been featured on a number of different websites, including The Huffington Post. Did you expect the kind of response it got?

To be honest, I had no idea. I found out 12 hours after it had been uploaded that it was on Buzzfeed. I’m so pleased it paid off but I didn’t expect it at all.

Did you find it difficult to find work after graduating?

A permanent job has been hard to find but paid internships and freelancing have been constant since graduating. I have done about 10 internships at different creative agencies during and after uni. I was working in Singapore the Monday after I handed in my last piece of work, so it can be done.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received, and what advice would you pass on to students or recent graduates?

Have fun. If you’re not having fun there’s something else that you should probably be doing. If you love the industry that you have chosen, then you should always love the job. I’m not saying some days aren’t better than others, but in general you should be enjoying what you’re doing, otherwise, what’s the point?

What would you say is your proudest achievement so far?

I’d probably have to say the project I created in Singapore whilst working at BBH Asia Pacific. It was hard work, but the results were definitely worthwhile. It was all about raising awareness of sex trafficking issues in the country and I’d like to think that we made some impact out there.

What was it like being a student at UAL and living in London?

Student life opened me up to whole new world. I moved to London and met an amazing group of new people, saw different things and completely grew up as a person. From learning how to look after myself, to attending random lectures that taught me things I had never heard of. The best thing about London is access – making contacts you wouldn’t find anywhere else, the galleries, the diverse food, there are so many unique experiences to be had everyday. Everything is at your fingertips to explore and find out. London is fantastic but it’s not for people on a budget.


Comments are closed.

Back to Top ↑