Whether you have seen my work through social media or taken my Skillshare classes, you might be curious about how I actually built my creative career. No, it did not just happen overnight, but has spanned 25 years, taking many forms throughout.
From an early age, I struggled with traditional forms of education. At the age of 5, I immigrated from Burma (now Myanmar) to the UK. In today’s British school system, I would have been classed as having ‘special educational needs’ because my English reading, as well writing and comprehension were poor until well into secondary school. Although I was interested in learning, I was never a confident student.
It was by sheer luck that I had two immensely supportive and wise history teachers. They could see I loved the subject and was very enthusiastic (I’m still huge Tudor/ C16 geek to this day), yet my grades didn’t reflect this at all. I can still remember their quiet gritty determination as they coached me through those two tough years. I still have a copy of my history certificate pasted to the inside to my kitchen cupboard as a reminder that my hard work and determination really does pay off.
Reconnecting with my mentors
A few weeks ago I attended D&AD New Blood design graduate show where I bumped into my former advertising lecturer. I had originally started a degree in Advertising and Design and Bruce was my first year tutor who taught everything from typography, art direction, copywriting and graphics. Bruce told me he knew from the first project I completed, which was a 3D pop-up book of Hitchcock films, of the potential I had to succeed. We caught up on news of what we’d been up to over the last 20 years. Through this encounter, I was also able to thank him personally for the early encouragement and support I received from him.
Last month I was also fortunate enough to meet up with another mentor who very much shaped my early career. I had not seen Heather for 16 years since I work as an in-house designer at TigerPrint, which is now Hallmark. I always felt Heather was very trusting of my abilities to handle tight deadlines and artwork for Marks and Spencer cards, given I was a new graduate when I started in her Events Department. To this day I am thankful for the opportunities she presented me and the experience and rewards that were offered.
Paying it forward with Skillshare
Now that I am a teacher, it feels I have come full circle. Although I will always be a student, I am now in a position to give back. I can see a common thread that runs through all my mentors and teachers. They believed in my capabilities, and gently encouraged me to reach further. They saw past where I may have been at the time, to a future where I was highly creative and using my skills to carve out a good living. I’d really like to think I am supportive and trusting that all my students on my various Skillshare courses can do and be better in all their endeavours. It hasn’t been a smooth path by any stretch of the imagination, but being able to put forward and share some of the skills and knowledge I’ve learnt has been hugely rewarding.