Speaker Questions: Ahrian Taylor

Here are Ahrian's top tips and answers to some of your questions!



How has your work been impacted by COVID-19, and what effect do you think it will have in the future?

As I was working in learning design, my job wasn't badly impacted, lots of people were staying home and using digital sites for learning and development whilst they were on furlough, or upskilling to start new roles, so it showed how necessary it is to have good content available online and how important good design is (UX / UI / websites / Learning) in situations like this. Due to COVID, I left my job to pursue other opportunities and 5 months later became re-employed as a Learning Experience Designer. I think the art & design industry will continue to grow, we're all seeing how important marketing and design is in times like this to get clear messaging across, as well as branding and visual design over the past year. Technology and games are growing, books, movies and TV shows will continue to grow, and I think architectural design will also play a large part in coming years. Innovation, creative thinking and problem solving are key skills for the future and the design industry provides a lot of this.


What drove you to be involved in so many different projects?

Mostly because I wasn't sure of what direction I wanted to go in and I wanted to gather a lot of experience in a short time. I love doing anything creative and solving problems, so that led me through interior design into interactive architecture, and then into the learning topics. I was never 100% sold on where I wanted to be or what I wanted to do in the design world, I enjoyed it all but couldn't pick 'a favourite' that I wanted to commit too, so I kept my options open whilst also opening as many doors as possible by getting involved in a wide range of projects. If one of them doesn't work out or I don't enjoy it, then I understand better what I'm not good at or what I don't particularly like working on, and it helps with my process of understanding what jobs I should be taking.



How do you think students can best prepare for the future?

Everything is so unknown and I think working on personal skills and development and being a self-driven learner is hugely important. You can be amazing at a particular subject, but if you don't have good communication or collaboration skills someone else is likely to be hired first. I think being a problem solver, a good communicator, being a critical thinker, are skills that can be adapted across any and all job roles so these are more important to me to prepare than knowing exactly what you are going to do. Showing that you can learn something by yourself and you are curious is such a good trait in my experience. I have been hired twice not for my knowledge of the job (because I still have very little experience) but because I know how to problem solve and i'm curious to learn more and improve. If you do feel prepared but you're struggling to find experience in Design work to get your foot in the door, see if you have time or opportunity to work on a personal project for your portfolio, or set up your own experience by contacting people to get them involved in your own mini design event, such as helping you host a competition or a Q&A for other people in your situation. Are there any design communities you can join or groups that involve your interests? If not maybe you can start one? Can you become a design collaborator on a local volunteering project to practice some skills? Try to seek out and take any opportunity that looks like it might fit your strengths or help you grow. All these small opportunities will help you build a CV of interchangeable skills

Advice on further Design content

  • For general design content, Netflix has a series called 'Abstract: The art of design' which I 100% recommend. It covers a variety of disciplines and you get to see the process people go through in their design thinking. My favourite episodes are Cas Holman, Olafur Eliasson, and Es Devlin.

  • There's a great podcast called '99% invisible' that covers lots of design topics, but you can search for 'design' playlists and find ones that appeal to you, podcasts are great for listening to before school/work or commuting.

  • Try and go to some exhibitions or design events throughout the year to feel inspired, websites like whatsondesign.com and more local places like https://designmuseum.org/ or https://www.vam.ac.uk/ have online exhibitions right now


Good TED Talks playlists about Art & Design:


Recommendations on Reading Material

  • First I would recommend narrowing down slightly what you're interested in, as 'design' is so broad it can be difficult to find something you enjoy, lots of books are specific to a subject such as 'graphic design' . If you're not sure what area of design you're most interested in, this quiz will give you some general recommended books for your designer personality, (don't spend too long thinking about the answers just go with your gut, click through and you can always retake it): https://www.whatkindofdesigner.com


  • If you're still not sure where to start you can look through more general lists such as this one: https://compassofdesign.com/books. Look at subjects like 'design principles' and 'how to think creatively'. There is also the theme of 'design thinking' such as these books https://www.innovationtraining.org/design-thinking-books-to-read/.


  • I think one of the most important things is to feel inspired. You can read 100 books about graphic design but if you're not really invested in it then it's wasting your time. If you know what subjects you are interested in (you don't have to be good at anything, just interested or curious!), follow them and see where it takes you. Make random combinations out of things you enjoy, for example: theatre and 3D design, graphic design and video games, or even broader if you're not sure like 'sports and design' or 'food & architecture', and search for those books/content. You will find people whose passion was also that specific thing and someone's likely written about it.


  • Also just for fun, this quiz by adobe will tell you your creative type, which you can then use to find other people with your type and see what jobs they are doing: https://mycreativetype.com/



Watch Ahrian Taylor's Talk here:



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