I took my BA at the University of Kent, and although life was fantastic the design modules were what I would call surface-level, more like a HND, but the film and media theory components were interesting, in-depth and challenging. I considered switching from design to full-time cultural studies/film theory, but I realised that what I wanted was a degree that allowed me to apply the theory to my practice – in Kent it was one or the other. I was bored with it and the university was rife with students who were fond of plagiarism – one guy in particular was caught out copying from books on numerous occasions, and still did well – a group of us brought this to the attention of the lecturers, but nothing changed.
Completely uninspired and in need of a change, I interviewed with the University of Portsmouth with a view to returning for my third year, (I’d studied there previously). That was it, I was off! I wrote a goodbye letter to one of Kent’s film theory lecturers who I knew would appreciate my point, and posted it in a foil takeaway carton – I couldn’t exit without getting my dissatisfaction out. It was funny at the time, these days I chuckle about what a typical art student I was.
I knew that by switching degrees I’d lowered my commercial potential – but I didn’t care, I wanted to be challenged and to be experimental not boxed in by grids (literally) or limited by faux client desires – surely that was what one would face in the world of work?
Always passionate about my work, I left with a sense of relief in that sense, but I felt sad too – I’d made some great friends, partied too much, dressed up too much, went strawberry picking at the weekend and ended up lassood around the ankle and tossed in a ditch (by a bolting dog), I played tennis with a county player every morning, I met my first goths, we had a bright orange 60’s sofa which I loved, we pretty much lived next to a pub, I commuted daily from Kent to London on the train for work experience with an agency called Still Waters Run Deep, it was there I took part in the most interesting discussion of my life… it was with the marketing team of a very well-known make-up brand. The agenda: Which pink to go with for the up-coming season’s packaging? I was excited, and all ‘theoried-up’, but it was a huge disappointment… a funny one at that – 3 women from said make-up brand, myself and a senior creative from Still Waters just chatted, or should I say they did, about which pink they did and didn’t like without any rhyme or reason, no rationale or anything. We did some funky bits for MTV and a food supplement for M&S which was OK, but I made a conscious decision there and then that although I had no idea where a more theoretical degree would take me, I just had to do it – I wanted message, linguistics, philosophy, semiotics – I had no interest in pink packaging or flogging toilet paper!