I studied at Plymouth University, which as far as I’m aware is well-renowned for marine sciences (it’s by the sea) and the arts (amazing facilities), but not much else. Maybe things have changed since then though; these were the heady days of 2008. I spent three years learning about illustration and amassing a museum-worthy collection of sketchbooks. I didn’t get on with some tutors, but got on with others; I hated some areas of work and loved others; the usual student experience. I learnt a lot, and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be an illustrator if I hadn’t gone. But as for setting you up for actual, practical, money-making business - it sucked. I vividly remember a one-hour lecture crammed in at the end of the last term about the practicalities of an industry where in all likelihood you’ll be self-employed - a series of rushed slideshows and my tutor adding ‘you must register with HMRC within three months or you’re breaking the l...’ as we were herded, bewildered, out of the room.
Finishing university is a big life change, one that is often overlooked because the promise of ‘a real job’ is supposedly so tantalising and all-consuming. You’re bound to feel down and worried about not getting a certain job, or not getting your work noticed, or how you’re going to pay off your crippling debts with unpaid internships being offered as the only solution. These are all real concerns - but, like everything, they don’t last forever. Don’t measure yourself against what others are doing, keep working hard, and try and spend time with people with similar interests, whose attitudes you respect. You can only do your best.
Nic Farrell is a freelance illustrator who graduated from Plymouth University in 2011. She's worked for companies such as Urban Outfitters, KPMG, Cadbury, M&C Saatchi, Schuh, Vo5, Co-operative Bank, to name but a few. She's one hell of a talent. Follow her on twitter here, and check out her beautiful drawings and letter headings on her website.