Meet: Ailish

Meet Ailish, a former Oaklands College Art & Design student who has gone on to achieve fantastic success with her graphics design skills.


Name: Ailish
Course studied: Level 3 Extended Diploma in Art & Design

We sat down with former Oaklands College student Ailish, who talked us through her experiences studying Art & Design at Level 3, her advice for current and future students and her fantastic freelance illustrations.

Did you enjoy your time at Oaklands College?

I had the best time ever at college – I think in the first year we were studying about 8 different creative subjects, which is a huge leap from only studying academic subjects at school!

I was in my element just experimenting all the time and being around creative people was just all new to me. All the resources and materials available were also a big deciding factor for me going to Oaklands College and not the colleges closer to me.

Are you currently working? Does your chosen career relate your studies, how has it evolved over time and what did you learn at Oaklands?

I am working a part-time job (a reality of university which is necessary due to how expensive it is!) but I have had commissions to earn a bit of money on the side and its amazing to be paid for what you love.

The main thing I learnt at Oaklands was how much I loved making and creating things and knew I wanted to do it for a living. My aim is to become a freelance illustrator but that’s not something I can just go on a jobs website and apply for, it’s going to take years to build and I haven’t even graduated yet so I’ve got a long way ahead of me!

What would you say have been major highlights of your student life that you may wish to share with us and our students?

I think from the first day that we started college all the way through university too that it’s not real life. We are literally being taught how to have fun essentially and what more could you want than that?!

At college, Cadisch MDA approached Oaklands asking for students to exhibit work in London, making sculptures for their exhibition. It was an amazing experience and a great space to showcase my work. After the show I emailed them asking for work experience and they invited me in to show my portfolio and to have a chat. I got two weeks work experience there and then they invited me back to work permanently one day a week! I left to go to university but whilst at university I received two commissions from them to create huge paintings for their new office. So simply from just asking to have work experience 4 years ago, I have gained a knowledgeable contact and they said they have more work for me soon!

What advice would you give to new Oaklands students if you had a chance?

Don’t worry too much about your grades – The work you’re making and experimenting with is more important, and if you enjoy it anyway, you’re bound to get a high grade! It sounds like a cliché but make the most of every opportunity. Like my work experience in college that I explained, I never thought down the line that they would still keep in contact!

Another big thing is to try and speak to as many people as possible, if that’s in person or via email, I’ve found that the saying “its not what you know its who you know” is true and if you start building “who you know” in college, by the time you get to uni you’ll have a huge list of people.

I took a year out after I finished my two years at Oaklands. I’m not saying everyone should do this but there is no rush to go to University if you decide to go. It’s just because my two years at Oaklands were so intense from all the work I done, I thought a break would be a good chance to go and see the world. I would highly recommend this to anyone who has the urge to get away as its best to do it before university than after, because after you have this nice portfolio and all this energy (which you wont have after coming back from travelling).

Tell us about your type of design work, what inspires you and what do you want to achieve in the future?

My work is very colourful, full of patterns and involves humour quite often. I would love to have Jelly London as my agent in the future and be able to support myself financially from my illustrations. I would love to be involved in the creative side of festivals, create murals and hopefully an animation one day!

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