The tall tale of a design lecture at Coventry University

For it is a truth universally acknowledged across all boards of education and professionalism, that every student in pursuit of a degree must be in want of a job.

Engine Creative, Coventry University lecture by Billy Clarke

From time to time, my everyday working life for creative agency, Engine Creative, is happily interrupted for the forces of future brilliance and upcoming creative genius – this particular time was Thursday 18th of April, 2013.

I had been invited by third year Graphic Design lecturer, Alexis Taylor of Coventry University, to visit for the day and spew my plethora of industry insight to the ever accepting eyes and ears of around 60 students. The agenda had been set and an acute arsenal of cutting-edge, industry defining case studies were chosen to support my torrent of design vernacular.

“Hi, I’m Billy Clarke, designer at Engine Creative.”

My opening words cut through the low humming of irrelevant chatter and Facebook obsessed individuals, like a knife through butter. I had their attention and they were fixated on me, this tall, bearded gentleman.

A moment had passed and they waited patiently in silence.

From this point forth, I revealed my journey and the transitions I had undergone, maturing from the adolescent cocoon of student-hood, to the majestic beast that I am now, leaving no stone unturned.

For over an hour, I divulged; I had experienced the best of times; I had faced the worst of times; I had been more foolish than any other fool before me; it was the epoch of growth; it was the epoch of prosperity. I unveiled my roles within the work place; a leader; a follower; a partner and a winner.

As before mentioned, to help illustrate my seemingly tall but very true tale, I unleashed the wonders fabricated with all our vigour and valour to lift their spirits and stimulate their minds.

From Augmented Reality within the confines of heat magazine’s printed pages, to digital publishing for TopGear Magazine enclosed by Apple’s Newsstand platform, and from expanding the reach of interactive learning for the Open University with the use of iBooks, to the media query driven experience for the ever growing breadth of devices at our disposal and their affects on web design and development.

I focused on my pet peeve and an issue I personally stumbled over at times in education; the succumbing of the straight and narrow and the refusal of conversation amongst peers for opinions. In simple words, I told them to wise up – I told them to knock on the sky and listen to the sound and to stop listening to just one hand clapping.

After an hour and a half, I came to a halt, with Alexis and his peers asking questions. They asked and I answered.

After filling my rumbling belly with much needed nutrients, we set sail back to the lecture room where the students were frantically working away to complete their final major projects and end of year group assignments.

Alexis had asked me to look through portfolio work of selected students, giving them pointers and suggestions.

My day had come to an end, with a small handful of students asking the best course forward to landing a dream job, to which I referred them to a previous blog post conjured some time ago.

Although I do not enjoy the sound of my own voice, my performance had been well received – as explained by the lecturers of Coventry University – and I could see that students were left in thought with my last words.

“To be a successful designer, one should treat design as secondary. You are working for your clients; learn about them; treat them well; love them. Learning programmes, conceiving the latest trend or style and utilising all the technology you possibly can is no use unless the creative thinking is there. Expand your minds, and your reach will be tenfold.”

I think it’s safe to say, I had done well – however I think Alexis may have upset his students straight after with the below notice on their boards.

Engine Creative, Coventry University lecture by Billy Clarke

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