Graduate profile: Phil Kiel -- making the most of your degree show

Do you think a Web site has replaced a traditional portfolio or are the two both essential?

I think that both are essential. I don't believe any employer or client would give you a job or commission just from looking on a Web site. A portfolio is more than just a way of showing work; it requires you to speak and represent yourself, which is what I believe an employer/ client is interested in. They are more interested in you and not your previous work.

A Web site increases how many people see your work and can be seen by anybody in the world, who has the Internet. However, a portfolio may only be seen by a handful of friends, colleagues, employers and clients. My Web site has already had around 1000 views.

Do you think producing self-initiated work is something that produces positive results?

I believe that it is important to keep on a roll after the big deadline of the degree. I have struggled in the past when I have stopped being creative over the summer break.This was OK because tutors were forgiving when we got back up to speed in September. However, I don't think employers or clients would be so supportive.

A striking Phil Kiel poster series to accompany the Did You See That Thing? lecture series.

You are looking for work placements and job opportunities in the Liverpool and Manchester areas, but do you have an urge to move to London to find work?

I would prefer to stay in the North West, especially at this current time with the financial climate being so bleak. I think it is a great time to be working and living in and around Liverpool. There are creative studios popping up quite often. Hopefully Liverpool will soon be able to challenge Manchester as the design city of the North West.

Is there a North/South divide in design?

I don't think so,the world is so much smaller because of the Internet. I believe and hope that British designers tend to stick together.

Has the current economic downturn had a negative effect on you and your fellow students' job prospects?

I believe that there isn't an option for me to give up on the career I have a passion and a talent for, especially during,or just after, my degree. It isn't just the creative industry that is struggling, every economic area is being affected.

I recently heard form a designer colleague that the North isn't struggling as much as the South and London. I don't think you can just go on what you read or hear from the media.

What advice would you give to anyone about to start a creative course?

I don't want to sound like I am preaching, but I think graduates can teach new students many important lessons. Don't think you know everything, accept constructive criticism, learn from it and give feedback to other people's work.

I believe they will learn this themselves by the end of a degree but they would be more successful and have a head start following these guidelines from day one.

Finally, where do hope to be this time next year?

I hope to either be working in a studio in Liverpool, or be successfully working freelance. I understand this isn't the best time to be looking for work but I believe in my potential and am open to constructive criticism, which I believe are the most important factors when looking for work.

The 2009 Graphic Arts Degree Show, Art and Design Academy, 2 Duckinfield Street, Liverpool, L3 5RD runs between 22 May and 5 June. More details can be found at

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