UPB Graduate Interview: Kevin Brackley

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Today our designer interview is with Kevin Brackley and Australian designer  who is also a recent graduate of The Ultimate Portfolio Builder – an advanced seven-week online professional surface pattern design course.

When did your interest in design first start and how did that come about?

As a kid I often doodled and drew things, but sadly I never took art at school. My interest in art & design always took a backseat to what were considered more suitable career options back then. However, I was always doodling and always gravitated to magazines and articles on computer graphics or graphic and interior design.

What steps did you take to get to where you are now as a designer? 

I started out on my creative journey studying visual merchandising at college and then several years later moved into graphic design.  Most of the skills and knowledge I have acquired in graphic design, and using graphic design software in particular, have been acquired through hundreds of hours of self -directed learning using video tutorials and podcasts I’ve stumbled across on the internet.  I never tire of learning and I’m lucky to have found something I’m passionate about as these hundreds of hours have never felt like work!

How would you describe your style?

I have a bold graphical style which incorporates the use of strong shapes. I add interest by experimenting with layers, textures and various effects. Most of my work is in vector format to ensure that my designs retain their crispness and detail when scaled either up or down.

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What kind of designer do you want to be known as?

I’d like to be known for pushing boundaries and providing something unique.  Someone who can produce designs that are thought provoking and colourful with a sense of intrigue.

What are you working on currently?

I’m in the process of building a portfolio which I’d like to exhibit at Surtex next year. In addition to this I’m also in the processing of canvassing companies in the hope of securing licensing for some of my designs.

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What advice would you give emerging designers wanting to build their portfolios?

Don’t give up. Keep sketching. Don’t stop dreaming and experimenting with your designs. Don’t ever throw anything away and keep records of  everything you do – they can come in handy sometimes. And don’t get hung up on having the whole collection worked out in your head before you begin. Just start drawing and the creativity will begin to flow. It’s a bit like getting water from the tap. You have to turn the tap first before the water begins to flow. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how it can all come together. Finally, don’t stress about what the upcoming trends might be, and if you haven’t found your particular “style” don’t let it stop you from experimenting and trying new things.

What would be your dream design gig?

Securing a licensing deal with a major international company which gave me huge exposure would be absolutely amazing! Seeing my designs on products would be awesome. In a nutshell, international recognition for my designs and all the long hours of hard work would be a dream come true.

Looking ahead what are your major goals for the next couple of years?

To continue working on my portfolio in order to secure licensing deals. And to become more well-known within the industry. I’d also like to explore new mediums and obviously need to be financially self sufficient in order to do this !

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If you were a pattern what kind of a pattern would you be and why?

Hmm, this is a tough one. I’m a Pisces, so on the one hand I’d like to be a bold geometric pattern because I can relate to the sense of order and structure. However on the other hand I like textured, abstract painterly designs that have a looseness and a free flowing feel to them. Can I be both?

What was the most important lesson you took away from UPB?

There was not one but many things I learnt on this course! I guess one of the most important lessons was that it’s good to have some diversity in your portfolio.  The exercises which encouraged us to explore different subject matter were really beneficial and these are something, I know, I will revisit again and again.

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What difference did it make to have a supportive community of fellow students and how important do you think that will be going forward?

This was invaluable! I felt like I belonged to a“family” and it was encouraging to know that  there would always be others who could identify with the challenges you faced and were a tremendous support. I’ve made some great contacts and friends throughout the course and one of the best things is they are scattered all over the world!

Please tell us about your experience of the live briefs and student work reviews.

There were a range of live briefs from different sectors of the industry, from scrapbooking to fabric to home décor. It was a great opportunity to submit to all of them, even if I felt that my designs weren’t suited to a particular client or category the practice was great (you never know until you try!). Although the feedback from the companies was generic in nature, it was useful to get a feel for what they actually look for and what works for them, as this information can be used to inform future planning and design.

The student work reviews were so valuable and I got so much out of them! Having a successful designer’s eyes look over your work and give you feedback and suggestions was one of the highlights of the course. It was beneficial to receive validation for my work, not to mention suggestions and ideas how to tweak my designs.

The brief review of my website was a bonus as well! The fact that I can watch and download all the reviews of class members work means that I can refer back to the tips and suggestions as often as I like which

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I’ve been interested in art and design for as long as I can remember. I particularly love experimenting with colour, manipulating vectors, to produce intriguing designs using bold graphics and shapes. Most of my designs start out as sketches. I then transfer them to the computer and play around with colour and placement until I come up with something I like. Inspiration is all around us – something I find incredibly exciting. And I’m always on the lookout for new things to draw inspiration from.

Amazed by what you see above from our talented students? Join our next class of The Ultimate Portfolio Builder which starts September 21st 2015.

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