Hamish Dobbie and New Designers - What happens next?

by New Designers

You’ve spent the last few years working towards your degree show, focussing your energy and time into the ideas and objects that will mark your entry into the world of craft and design. What happens next? How do you make the leap from a newly qualified craftsperson into your chosen industry? Which route do you go down – self-employed designer-maker, industry professional, tutor or a mix of all three? What if you don’t know?

The first stop for many design graduates is New Designers, the UK’s most important show for emerging design, which takes place at the Business Design Centre in London, with Part 1from 25-28 June and part 2 from 2-5 July. Ahead of this year’s event we’ve asked an emerging jewellery designer, Hamish Dobbie, and an industry expert, Ed Hole, Head of CAD Design & 3D Printing at Weston Beamor, about the paths they’ve followed into the industry.

The emerging designer – Hamish Dobbie

Hamish Dobbie is a contemporary silversmith who graduated in 2013 with a BA(Hons) in Silversmithing and Jewellery Design from Glasgow School of Art, where he is now Artist-in-Residence. He received the New Designers Weston Beamor Award in 2013 and returns to exhibit as part of the curated One Year On section in 2014.

“I have always felt that your degree show is the point when your artistic career begins. It basically defines the style of your work and the different avenues you will go down. With this in mind I looked at my own degree show and New Designers as the first step into the world of contemporary design. From there you can decide to go into industry, self-employment, freelance work or tutoring.

“I had decided to apply for the artist-in-residence position at Glasgow School of Art after my final year but that was all I had planned. I was excited to see how my work would be received by collectors, the public or if industry professionals would be interested in skills I have or my designs, so I remained open to different opportunities that arose. Before my degree show I was really nervous about how people would respond to my work, but after the first few days of the exhibition the fear had subsided.

“As my first professional show, New Designers was a fantastic platform to meet with people who were keenly interested in emerging designers and people who worked in a variety of creative industries. The most important thing I learned while at New Designers was that you have many different options available to you as a creative person.

“If becoming a self-employed designer-maker is the direction you want to go in, don't exclude doing some industry work. The things I have learned doing work that has been much more commercial and not necessarily related to my studio work have proven to be just as useful and important as skills learned at university.  

“I felt really excited about the years to come when I got home from New Designers. There were several people who had expressed interest in design work or purchasing a piece of my work and I immediately pursued these avenues of business. I was in the very fortunate situation of having more offers of work than I was able to complete so I had to prioritise which avenues felt more important or were more useful to my career.

“Having been fortunate enough to win the prestigious New Designers Weston Beamor Award I was given the opportunity to go and spend a week working with them in Birmingham. This pushed me towards using 3D printing more within my work and to develop more complex and interesting ideas. With their many years of casting experience it gave me a huge amount of information and increased my understanding of how the process works and how to maximise the outcomes.

“As well as being an artist in residence at the Glasgow School of art I have also been taken on as a Visiting Lecturer in Computer Aided Design and 3D printing at GSA's Jewellery Department. This residency has allowed me the full freedom to explore my work and not feel that I'm limited in any way due to a lack of facilities. With the space at Glasgow school of Art, which includes a fully equipped jewellery and silversmithing workshop with 3D printer, CNC milling and laser cutting and a wood workshop, I have been able to explore other ways of making my work and developing the forms and processes I used in my fourth year. I have been developing new pieces for specific shows around Europe this year including Poland, Denmark and the UK. This year I shall be exhibiting at One Year On at New Designers, which will be an amazing chance to show my new work and show how it has developed on from last year. I will also be at Goldsmiths' Fair, an exhibition I have always admired. To be able to show my work there in my first year since graduating is something I am very proud of.

“The transition from being a student to being a designer-maker is difficult but I'm really enjoying the challenge of making new work and developing the ideas and processes I use while still keeping a certain commercial aspect. I'm constantly honing and improving the skills I learnt at university. I have learned how to work to commission, how to do more technical processes and improved on these, and incorporated new methods of working with sheet metal to add an additional element to my work.

“One of my favourite things I have done is designing a ‘spork’ for a restaurant in London. I was approached by the interior designers who wanted to have a piece of cutlery designed for mass production which was a fantastic commission to get. I had never done anything of this kind before and the real challenge was designing with mass manufacture in mind as all my work is produced as one-off or limited edition pieces. This was a great chance to learn about the limitations of the manufacture process and made me think in ways that I wasn't used to. Having now completed that job I have been able to look at my work and apply some of the processes and things I learnt to my own work. Instead of thinking of my pieces as one-off objects I'm thinking of how do I put that into production? How do I extract the key elements of this design and refine it? I think that's possibly the most important thing I have learnt since graduating.

“Over the next year I'm planning to set up my own workshop and continue to develop my work. I am taking part in a couple of exhibitions around the UK so I shall be making new work and continuing to develop the ideas and techniques I use in that. I also wish to start offering a CAD model creation service as this is a skill I learned and have become proficient in.”


The industry expert – Ed Hole

Head of CAD Design & 3D Printing at Weston Beamor, Ed Hole was part of the judging panel that selected Hamish to win the award at New Designers in 2013. He entered the jewellery industry from a different route to Hamish, after graduating with a BA in Industrial Design and Technology, from Loughborough University in 2001.

“As a kid I always loved Lego and drawing, creativity and making things. My favourite subject at school was design and technology and woodworking, which led me to making and design. My degree allowed me to take this to another level. I didn’t have a specific interest and my course was very open, so didn’t send you down one specific route, it just gave general grounding in techniques and the manufacturing process.

“I did my dissertation on 3D-printing back in 2001, which was quite early for the technology, but at the time I wasn’t directly interested in jewellery. I just knew I wanted to get into the design world. At the time, being young and a bit naïve, you tend not to think too much about what comes next. You just believe that when you’d got your degree you’d then go on to look for jobs. Tutors give you tools and techniques to get into work, but it’s down to you to get out and find it.

“It took almost two years to find what I was looking for in design sector. I heard about the role at Weston Beamor through someone I went to uni with who was already in the company. It was a bit of an out-of-the-blue opportunity, but my skills were a good fit for the requirements of the job. It had all the characteristics of what I was looking for - design, CAD, 3D printing and general manufacturing.  At the time CAD and 3D printing was very new to jewellery industry and the company needed more people with those skills. Luckily for me no jewellers had those skills at that time. Since then CAD and 3D printing has revolutionised the industry and lots of people trying to get into it.

“In the Weston Beamor CAD Design and 3D Printing team everyone is now coming from a jewellery degree course - we recruit specialists, people who know about jewellery and have a passion. The CAD skills and 3D printing knowledge is a bonus. Communication skills and personality are vital, even if you want to work as a self-employed designer-maker. No matter which route you take, you’ve got to sell yourself and you’re never on your own, you always need to be connected. We have suppliers and work with a lot of designer-makers.

“All the peopl in my team are graduates and around half did New Designers. It’s a perfect platform to sell yourself to the right people. People in the industry do visit degree shows, but nothing beats New Designers as a place to find talent under one roof. We go there now looking for graduates to recruit or work with. When we met Hamish last year, the way he spoke about his work demonstrated that he had passion. He could sell himself and his pieces without overselling. 

“It’s good to be confident, but don’t be arrogant. It’s a bit of a fine line, but always be aware that you’ve got more to learn. You never know it all, especially in the jewellery industry. You learn new things every day. Now I’m working in industry and recruiting I can see things the other way around. Since my degree I’ve learnt a lot about being confident in myself. When I first met people who had been working in the industry longer, I was a little unsure of myself on the subject. As I gained more knowledge I began to build my confidence that I could answer questions and give sound advice.

“Whether it’s your degree show or New Designers that you’re preparing for, my advice to emerging designers is to take it seriously, try your best, be prepared and talk to people and don’t be shy. When you graduate, try and get work experience. We understand graduates often don’t have much experience and that it’s a bit chicken and egg, but we would always prefer some experience to none. Contact companies, do internships, show willing, ask to have a chat. Anything to build your CV. Do background research on companies before you go and talk to them – demonstrate what you can offer and what interests you have.”

New Designers is the UK’s most important show for emerging design.

For further information please visit: www.newdesigners.com


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