Quila Charnock graduated with a distinction average in 2016 after studying the Bachelor of Design Arts and majoring in Graphic and Digital Design. We caught up with him recently to talk about his experience at the Academy, including studying abroad and of course what he’s up to now!
ADA: Overall, how was your experience at Academy of Design Australia?
QC: It’s hard to succinctly summarise my entire time at the Academy, as each year presented me with its own challenges, opportunities and triumphs. It was what I felt university should be. I graduated having expanded my knowledge of practical skills, the design industry, and my true passions and ambitions.
Being a student at the Academy meant you had constant support from your mentors and opportunities were always offered if you were interested in finding them. I like to believe that is still the case for graduates, and my professional network for finding future opportunities begun with the people I met at university.
I tried to be open to as many opportunities that appeared in front of me, which sometimes worked and other times didn't, which meant I had my hand in a few things while I was studying. I helped with a couple of university exhibitions and open days, but perhaps the biggest project I was involved in was Howdily Doodley. Two of my classmates (Tameem Hassan & Jesse Birthisel) and I designed and sold our own pins and patches, which we are continuing to do now and it's our little side-business together.
ADA: It seems your plans didn’t work out after you graduated. Tell us about what you’re up to now.
QC: Studying at the Academy was generally great, but after 16 years of academia some things can understandably start to become a chore. So my original plan was to take a short break from design to become a bartender for a little while, also giving me time to focus on personal design projects. However this didn't last for long until I was presented with an opportunity to do some freelance work, which I gladly took up and has resulted in this being my main source of income and main focus of time. My first client was a friend of my dad's; a fact that helps prove the usefulness of networking.
ADA: What has been the best part and the most challenging part of your journey so far?
AC: Funnily enough, the best and worst of my journey came at about the same time. I was lucky enough to be accepted to study for a semester over in the UK in my second year; when I was really beginning to explore my design senses. It opened my eyes to so many things; including living independently, the atmosphere of a large university, the illustration industry and the wider design world. The course I was studying challenged my dream career path and who I was at this point of my life, and I felt a little lost. That time was both a hurdle for me to jump and a wave for me to surf.
ADA: What did you do? Did this experience change your path?
The course I was studying split into three pathways, one of which was illustration. This seemed like a great choice for me as I had always wanted to be an illustrator. I was lucky enough to gain a better understanding of illustration and I realised that there was more out there and wanted to pursue other interests. This really challenged my perception of what I wanted to study and ultimately changed my career path. I later found that more digital design was the path I wanted to follow and the way the course was structured, I was lucky enough to be able to do that.
ADA: What’s next? Do you have any plans?
QC: I have so many ideas for personal projects waiting to be developed and practical skills to learn and master, but first on my to-do list is travel. I'm off on a solo trip for several weeks soon so finalising my freelance projects and when I come back to Melbourne I plan to freelance until I find a position at a design firm. I'll be starting a blog for my travels too so keep a look out!
ADA: Do you have any advice for future students at the Academy?
QC: Try not to stress too much. As cliche as this sounds: the time you spend at the Academy is for growth, both as a creative and as a human being. Try not to get bogged down in the details about grades or the perfect solutions, instead focus on exploring your passions and take things as they come.
A useful thing to consider during your studies is networking, even before your tutors force you to think about it. I'd suggest beginning to build a network in your second year, even connecting with fellow students is a good start.
I guess ultimately the Academy helped me begin to understand the design world and my place within it.
Check out Quila's work below:
When Felicia Brennan graduated in 2016 and received a Distinction Award, she was pleasantly surprised. After chatting to her recently about her invaluable experience working while studying, we can see why she won!