The graduation ceremony for Friends of Design’s crop of 2013 students was, as always, an amazing event filled with inspirational words, exaltation and of course, an overload of design excellence. Every year the college goes out of its way to celebrate their students’ achievements and this year was no exception. Watching these future design stars celebrate the beginning of their design careers is always a heart-warming experience, which makes you equally excited to see the work they will soon be creating for agencies across the world.
The palpable sense of camaraderie between the students at Friends of Design is always an aspect of the college that should be admired. Often there is a sense of competitiveness at graduations, but not with this bright group of budding designers; they would whoop and cheer for everyone and expressed a true feeling of solidarity. The air was charged with positivity as the students waited for their names to be called out and finally receive their long-awaited certificates.
Massive congratulations must go to the year’s top students, who exceeded all expectations and worked hard to rise above their very talented peers:
1 Year Higher Certificate in Print Design & Publishing:
- Top Student – Sabrina Moellers
- Top Portfolio – Tanita Boswell
- Most Improved Student – Tashreeq Barday
1 Year Higher Certificate in Web Publishing & Interactive Media:
- Top Student – Dominica Wannenberg
- Top Portfolio – Tobias Joubert
- Most Improved Student – Tamara Wilson
1 Year G.A.M.E Design Course:
- Top Student – Daniela Dique
- Top Game – Nicolaas Lareman
- Most Improved Student – Andrew Lapham
The Top Students were then hit with one seriously huge surprise; each of them would receive one of 3 Wacom tablets and a copy of Adobe’s Classroom in a Book, graciously supplied by Learning Curve. Now that is what is called a prize of serious note – not to mention a sure-fire incentive for the next group of students to give it their all. Congratulations!!!
Impressive, revitalizing, inspired: these were some of the words that people used to describe the speeches made by the ultra charismatic guest speakers, Max Kaizen and Jason Bagley.
Indeed, they both spoke with a fervent passion, which parents and students alike responded to with keen interest and gratitude. It was fabulous to see how the students responded with genuine interest as they dispensed the kind of wisdom that can only be earned by years of hard work and dedication to something you truly love.
Max Kaizen, director of the Digital Marketing Academy at Ogilvy, is one of those people who have the ability to constantly amaze everyone that they meet. Her story of Jacob wrestling with an angel was the perfect analogy to give the student confidence and inspire them to take on big challenges and grow from the experience. She gave the students valuable pointers to remember as they began their careers in digital design; aligning yourself with the kind of individuals that understand you and who will help you grow and to try and be a bit more selective of the ‘problems’ that you tackle by focussing on the jobs that will make you into a better designer. Max has a quirky way of mashing together tech, subculture and meme knowledge with scientific data and philosophical teachings, in order to create a distinctive brand of insight, which opens the mind and pumps you up at the same time! Perhaps the most powerful piece of advice that many took away from Max’s speech was when she implored students to not take a job that was less than their soul – those words are truly a powerful guideline to finding happiness in the workplace.
The second guest speaker, Jason Bagley of well know agency Firing Squad, has a blunt ‘in your face’ kind of attitude to his style of dispensing wisdom. While he was honest about the raw truths of the industry the students are stepping into, he also reassured them about believing in their own abilities and to not be afraid of pushing the envelope. You must be the “best version of yourself” he said, telling students never to bow to the constraints of people that would otherwise stifle their artistic exuberance. Amassing a slick portfolio with projects which are constantly being polished and revised, is much more valuable and appealing to prospective clients, than filling it with a plethora of small jobs that have very little ‘creative weight’ in the industry. Jason Bagley’s speech was undoubtedly just the right amount of ‘tough love’ that the students needed to hear before stepping into the world of digital design.
No event is complete without a great after-party! Friends of Design enlisted the help of Travis Hyde (aka: Lieutenant Fizzer) to get the his unique blend of electro swing and techno was a refreshing change from so much of the mundane electronic music we seem to hear these days. He definitely stood out in his bright red cadet uniform, which only helped to accentuate the eccentricities of his own blend of music as he served up an endless barrage of floor-filling audio treats. If you ever get a chance to see this man at work, do yourself a favour and go, very impressive.
If you have ever been to a Friends of Design graduation you will know that it’s an event where you get spoilt with tasty food and never get a chance to go thirsty. There was superb red and white wine sponsored by Distell and Jack Daniels new ‘Honey Bourbon’ was just so amazingly different (there was more than a few new concoctions invented this night). The food that was supplied by the ever popular Limoncello Food Trucks was absolutely delightful and had everyone snacking with ravenous glee – it was simply impossible to hold back. Red Bull’s selection of drinks and Sir Juice’s delicious juices definitely had a hand in keeping the party going and alleviating wobbly legs on the way home.
With every passing year the students at FOD become more remarkable. The new generation gets to grips with the latest design technology and makes it their standard, raising the bar ever higher, taking design to places it has never been before. Techniques that were once extremely difficult to produce are now at their fingertips and can be deftly conjured to create jaw-dropping work that meets the highest industry standards. These young designers will shape the future of South African design and challenge our industry to evolve along with international trends and even surpass them. The high level of work which was produced by the students this past year is evidence of not only their newly attained skills, but also their passion for design!