Tell us about your role at The Mill, what does your job involve?
I work in the Creative Technology (CT) team. For me this involves working on projects for Augmented Reality (AR) Effects for Instagram and Facebook.
How have you got to where you are today?
I guess in a bit of a roundabout way. I studied a Visual Communication BA at Leeds College of Art, where I took a particular interest in interactive projection and left university with the ambition to continue with this, but with no real understanding of how could that interest evolve into a career. Googling “interactive projection jobs” was fruitless. Inevitably I ended up working full-time in hospitality before deciding to direct my efforts towards Motion Graphics and undertake a short course with Escape Studios. It was this course that led to the Runner role at The Mill.
During my time as a Runner I had opportunities to help with Experiential Demos with Martin Thelwell and the Marketing team. This revealed to me that there was an entire department working on a whole realm of things ‘experiential’. The CT team then let me hang out with them for a few weeks and were immediately very welcoming, showing me what it was they got up to, not just developing AR effects, but they encouraged me to give that a go. They continued to help me with personal projects when I returned to the Running team which was invaluable for my personal development. I also had two great mentors from other departments in Dan Moller and Will McNeil, both of whom helped by giving me advice on how to progress as well as gain confidence in a professional environment that I found, and still do find, intimidating (everyone’s so bloody good at what they do!).
What are your main focuses right now?
This role I have at The Mill now is quite new to me, so every day I am still getting my head around something I’ve not seen before – super exciting. I also decided to go back to university at the end of last year to study an MA in Computational Arts so that requires a considerable amount of focus. All this is with the main goal to continue developing my technical skills and achieve my ultimate career as a Maze Designer (yes, it’s a real job, but I’m going to make my own interpretation of it). However, I’m trying to keep my focus pretty short term at the moment, one, to not let myself get overwhelmed but two, so as to appreciate the small achievements I’m making and gain strength from them. If I’m learning and experiencing something new each day then I’m going in the right direction, (even if that’s conquering the coffee machine on first floor.).
If you were to give advice to someone who wants to get into CT, what would you say?
I would aim to reassure them rather than give specific advice, I still feel fresh in the big wide world myself but that means that I know how complex it can seem and how this can make it difficult to navigate your way around. I also know that no two paths will be the same, this is particularly something I see in the CT department; everyone has a different background and brings a different set of skills to the table. I think my passion for continuing learning is one of my strengths and I’ve found that even skills and experiences that I originally thought were distractions to my particular goals have served me well in surprising situations. Confidence is key, over confidence can be off-putting. If confidence is something, like me, you struggle with then take actions to help you. For instance, practicing what you need to say or doing something you know you can achieve before attempting what you’re not so sure about. My Mum always reminds me to “get a few small wins under your belt” if I’ve got a big task to complete, makes for a better mindset. To summarise although it may seem like you need to solve your life tomorrow, breaking it down and aiming at smaller steps will take you further, quicker.
What’s currently inspiring you?
I’ve been learning about computer vision and image manipulation within programming both at university and at work which, as someone who comes from an Adobe Creative Suite background, is very exciting as it highlights the boundaries that you can push. As I’m working in different development environments at The Mill compared to on the MA these skills are inspiring me in different ways, one in an aesthetic and design focused direction and the other in response to a theoretical approach through the practice of Ethnography.
What’s the best project you’ve seen recently?
I visited the Eco-Visionaries exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts recently. Apart from seeing the life-size installation of the last Northern White Rhino in the ‘The Substitute’ from Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg; (with rigging, animation and use of real-time rendering techniques by The Mill), I really enjoyed the powerful way the audience is thrown into the centre of Rimini Protokoll’s ‘win > < win’. A project that examines the ability of two species, humans and jellyfish, to survive the threat of global warming and climate change. The artist has created an immersive experience without overloading the senses with evidence of technology, which left space for the audience to have a significant individual and shared experiences.