Design Academy – It’s a two way thing.

The Design Academy was set up to nurture young designers and support them to achieve their ambition of working in graphic design, but as our Senior Graphic Designer Martha will tell you, it’s a two-way street. Here’s her outlook on how investing time in design academy placements can have a benefit on both the student and the designer…

We’ve been running our Design Academy Initiative now for 3 years and have seen an abundance of young, talented students pass through our studio. But what people may not realise is the imprint that they leave on us. Here are the four ways that I’ve found having passionate, young students at Top Banana has affected me and the creative team positively…

  1. We inspire each otherOne of our main goals for Design Academy is to inspire students and help to teach them the necessary skills they will need going forward in the design industry, but the student’s raw talent for design is a refreshing reminder as to why I love my job so much.Students are full of an infectious passion for what they do and it’s impossible for it to not rub off. Though I spend their placement introducing them to what we do as a company, how the industry works and the concepts as a company we’re able to produce; they are throughout, full of original ideas that often introduce me to new concepts and technologies I’ve never seen before.So, as I am sharing with them work I am proud of, they’re also showing me new and innovative concepts that help me grow as a designer, and for that, we both come away feeling inspired.
  1. We build our confidence as designersI think when students are at university they are constantly comparing their work to others, which can lead to a lack of confidence. They are well aware of their competitors and lack of experience in the industry and a lot of students worry about how they will fit in. If I can steer them in the right direction and give them credit where credit is due, this goes a long way in making them realise how much potential they have.On the flip side, working with students makes me realise how far I have come in my career and how valuable my experience is – if I can be a mentor and teach other people things then I must have skills that I sometimes take for granted.
  1. We share skillsSo often students come into Top Banana with skills that I don’t have or am yet to develop. A recent student came in with fantastic rendered typography work; that inspired me so much I set out to learn it. Similarly, I always aim for them to leave with a new design skill that can better their university studies and future career, but each time they show me something new, it makes me want to better myself as a designer.
  1. We are giving back to the design communityI remember that feeling of leaving university and feeling so overwhelmed about what was to come. If I can help students get some experience, give them some useful advice and a foot in the door then I know that I have given them some of the guidance I wished I had at their age. Because of this, we hope that by having this opportunity themselves they will one day mentor a growing designer who needs some guidance on their way; and take the learnings from Top Banana with them.

One size has never fit all; and that’s the approach we take with each and every student that walks through the door. Developing students on an individual basis also develops us as designers, as we’re tested differently by each student to answer questions from fresh eyes who are out of the industry loop and agency life. It’s refreshing and its grounding, but most of all it makes us realise how lucky we are to be a designer.

Have a look at our 2017 students here and also find out what our 2018 interns thought of us! Their responses and attitudes towards the initiative will hopefully allow you to see why we keep doing this year after year; and will also inspire you to take on a student of your own.

They won’t be the only one reaping the benefits.


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