The creative graduate's guide to success

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Being an idealistic graduate might get you so far, but in the professional world, being aware of commercial realities will get you further, is the consensus. “You should try and put your all into everything you do, and not just the projects you deem worthy of your talent,” says Rob of Studio Output. 

You shouldn’t be fussy and arrogant about what you work on and what you find interesting, advises Poke’s Fred, “There aren’t any good or bad projects – it’s about what you make of them. You always have the chance to over deliver on projects, and if you do that you will be given something that suits you more.” 

Lizzie points out that she works for a number of big companies, doing what she loves. “I love working for them, so what the hell. You can be working for the biggest brand ever, but you’re still just dealing with people. Idealistic graduates should realise that and just have some fun.” 


Illustration by Susie Wright ( for an album cover designed by James Hurst for DJ Sasha’s Last Night on Earth label

Designing your way around the world, considering Britain’s Got Talent or “whoring yourself down the docks” are among the more colourful, if tongue-in-cheek, tips on how to deal with persistent lack of success. 

Adjusting your expectations, getting a part-time job and plowing on are among the more measured words of advice. “Just because your ‘dream’ job hasn’t worked out doesn’t mean something else won’t,” advises Rob. “You’ve also got to learn to be aware of what you’re good at, exactly how good you are and ultimately how ambitious you are – this industry isn’t a TV talent show, and not everyone deserves their dream job.”

Sit down and reassess, recommends illustrator Lizzie. “Assess what you’ve done right, and what you’ve done wrong? Take some time to draw up a one-year business plan, and be realistic. If you want to do it, do it. If your heart’s not in it, then go do something else.”

Figtree Creative’s James also advises planning. Think creatively about what it is that would make you happy, he says, and make a plan to get there. “The last thing to do is to try and follow some sort of preset path with the belief that that will get you somewhere,” he says. “Life’s too short, don’t waste it, enjoy it.” 


Doing a Masters degree in a chosen discipline is an attractive option for many graduates, however Benjamin rings a note of caution. “It only makes sense if you know exactly what you want to do,” he argues. “I would not recommend to do an MA just because you can’t get a job. If you have a burning desire to investigate certain parts of your undergraduate degree further, then by all means go for it. But usually the way MAs are structured, you need to be quite mature and know what you want to do.”

There’s a range of avenues to secure funding for further education or Masters degrees in the creative fields, and usually online is a good place to start looking.

The creative industries skills council, Creative Skillset (, for example, manages a range of training funds to broaden access to training and further development. It also offers comprehensive links to other funding and development bodies, from Arts Council England which distributes public money from Government and the National Lottery, to Student Cash Point, a website that allows students to search funding available.

Website Postgraduate Studentships ( regularly updates its information on funding. It highlights universities and courses, government bodies such as DFID and other organisation’s latest scholarship offers and application deadlines. Those currently include a £3,000 postgraduate scholarship at Cardiff Metropolitan University ( and funding for a Masters in creative technologies at De Montfort University (, for example. 


This article originally appeared in the July 2012 issue of Digital Arts, where Form's work for Olympic West Hall and The Saturdays was credited to another agency. We regret the error.

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