My name is Phil Steed, I am 54-years-old and I studied a degree at University Centre South Essex in Graphic Design BA Hons from/until 2010-2013 and this is my story.
I had worked in the design industry for a number of years but wanted to attain my degree. I have continued to work in industry, but have also now been involved every year working with the second year degree students, including crits and portfolio clinics.
I have just left the Sequel Group as head of creative (which I did three days a week) to go back to being an entirely self-employed design consultant.
I currently run a number of corporate accounts, working closely with a self-employed communications consultant, as well as design, where I cover the full project management for all requirements.
I have been in industry since approximately 1990 and worked my way up the ladder in a number of internal comms agencies before going self-employed.
Primarily I chose University Centre South Essex due to the location. I have a young family so not having a long commute to university was high on the agenda. I also liked the facilities and had a friend who had recently completed the course. Their final show was superb – largely due to the huge diversity of medium used. It was really attractive to be on a course that was not restrictive.
It was a privilege to go back to university and now realise at 17 I just wasn’t ready to truly apply myself. Going back as a mature student I absolutely loved being back in education and using the grey matter. I enjoyed the essays and especially the dissertation (which wasn’t universally loved by the younger participants) and trying different skills – the 3D studio was such a great environment to work with a variety of interesting materials.
My favourite memories was the comradery with my fellow students and teachers. I was blessed with a cracking group of classmates, and the staff across the course were knowledgeable and really fun to work with.
I don’t have any experience of other universities, but I felt the quality of the centre, and what we produced, would sit up there with any in the country. The building is modern, the facilities are great, and who wouldn’t want to study by the seaside.
I had been self-employed for 10 years before going on the course but what it did was highlight the importance of collaboration. I also undertook for one of the briefs a willow sculpturing course – something I’d like to further pursue.
In the future, it would be great to have further opportunities to work with the students – even ideally as a part time associate. I am also looking at various MA courses.
I do want to highlight that not only going back, but getting a first, was a huge achievement. For years it had played on my mind that I didn’t get my degree so to complete it.
To learn more about the Graphic Design provision, visit: www.southessex.ac.uk/course/graphic-design-ba-hons