Graduate profile: Alan Clarke -- finding your first job in a recession

Geographically Falmouth is a long way from London, what attracted you to UCF?

I actually was not planning on coming to Falmouth originally, due to its distance from London, but after looking at several other universities and college courses, I felt Falmouth was the best for me by far.

The course has many good links to industry and a good reputation. The key for me in deciding where to come was the amount of student-tutor interaction. It seemed the best course for this by a long way.

And do you think the quality of life in Falmouth has contributed in some way?

Living in Cornwall is an inspiration to me. The healthy lifestyle helps in my opinion no end. I live five minutes from the beach and beautiful countryside. I feel it is good to step away from what you are doing sometimes, to help you get a different perspective on things.

Also being outside the influence of London makes you look at your work in a different way, I don't feel so influenced by trends within design. One thing I notice is the pollution every time I go to a city now.

10 posters designed by Alan Clarke, based on modernist typefaces, that could either be bought or used as wrapping paper.

Generally UCF seems a very pro-active institution, would you say that is true?

Yes there is a push for students now to enter competitions, as it helps the courses profile and shows the students potential, I think the way the course is run, with a big focus on a problem solving and ideas, it is well suited to competitions such as the D&AD.

I entered a Coley Porter Bell competition in the second year and also entered an International Society of Typographic Designers one, but it was my own decision to enter those. In the third year of the course all the projects we decide to do are self-chosen.

Has UCF helped shape how you work or do you have a wider range of influences?

It's given me a design process to work through, which helps me come to the solutions I have. There is a big emphasis on ideas and their generation. I also use the Internet to help me be more connected to what is going on tin the design world, but most of all journals and books give me the most influence.

You have very simple but effective single page web presence. How important do you think it is to be online?

It is good to showcase your work, but I much prefer talking to people about it face to face. Some websites I see are very confusing and there is too much information for me to handle.

My personal preference is just to keep things as simple as I can and let the work speak for itself and the less design is the best design. Getting things across clearly and simply to me is what I feel good design is about.

Working in conjunction with Empress, Alan Clarke helped design this years student handbook for the University College Falmouth.

How should you try to promote yourself while at college?

Get in touch with companies you like, writing letters and emails, placements are very useful. Going in for competitions gets you industry recognition.

I feel much more competent working in a studio after placements, I also have just asked designers' to crit my portfolio, which has also helped a lot.

Finally, what advice would you give to anyone looking to choose a design course?

Make sure you visit as many as you can, I did not have a clue where I wanted to be, but by going to lots of open days I found a place I just clicked with.

Falmouth seemed just right. Also look at the course structure, where you want to be as a place and where you think you will enjoy the most.

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