News / 4 minute read

DRPG and University of Wolverhampton: Inspiring the next generation of award-winning designers

Written by Zac Goodman

10 March 2022

The University of Wolverhampton first partnered with us for their graphic design industry expertise back in 2017. Since then, we have continued to visit the University’s School of Art, inspiring graphic design students with a fictional client brief to be delivered on as part of an assessed module within their degree curriculum.

The partnership also involves the students visiting our studios in Worcestershire for tours of the facilities and hands-on presentations of award-winning client work. With dedicated time to meet with our designers at DRPG, this experience offers insight into the industry, a chance to ask questions, and a valuable opportunity to build their creative network in the Midlands.

David Withers, Head of Design at DRPG, has been working with the Graphic Design department at the University of Wolverhampton for over five years. He explains: “It’s invaluable to work with people that are beginning their journey within the creative sectors and the University of Wolverhampton provides a great environment for this. And not just practically. It’s also a place to harness professional relationships with local talent who will, in the next couple of years, be starting their careers in the local area and, on several occasions, in our very studios!”

Marc Austin, Course Leader in Graphic Design at the University of Wolverhampton, said: "Working with agencies such as DRPG gives our students the opportunity to engage with live, design briefs with possibilities to interpret client requirements and critically generate creative responses. Learning to work under guidance of creative directors and pitching back to agencies gives a taste of commercial design studio culture.

“We are immensely proud of the work that our students have consistently produced in response to the projects over the course of the past five years – they have engaged professionally with the realities of designing to tight publishing deadlines, and have always impressed the clients with their creativity.” 

Gemma Oldfield, Head of Digital Project Delivery at DRPG and another University of Wolverhampton alumni, explains the collaborative process. “We meet the students informally at first to get to know them as individuals, understand their objectives, discuss the current industry and give them the chance to ask us questions on the project they will be delivering for us. The students then go on to manage and deliver a fully designed proposal over the next term, presenting back to us in an agency style pitch. We thoroughly enjoy seeing the creativity come to life at the end of the module and it always proves the talent we have on our doorstep is incredibly promising”.

Ian Beresford, User Experience Manager at DRPG, plays the part of the client for the students. He adds: “Although the briefs are fictional, they’re often based on legitimate projects and proposals that we have delivered for our clients, giving students a true indication of the current industry landscape. For instance, we recently set a brief as a particular food delivery subscription service where the design of a full app and website was required, ensuring the students use practical and functional design alongside their creativity.”

We are also involved with several further education institutes and have gone on to recruit seven team members directly from the creative courses we support. Those successful students have varying specialisms in visual communications, ranging from digital and graphic design to 3D motion graphics. In December, we celebrated one of the University of Wolverhampton’s own at our Anything’s Possible awards, recognising the teams and individuals who have excelled during the past 12 months. Graphic Design alumni, Sam Chambers, picked up the most coveted award, Team Member of the Year.

After graduating in 2018 from the University’s School of Art, 24-year-old Chambers said: “I initially heard about DRPG from my tutor, Marc Austin, during my degree show. He had been talking with Gemma Oldfield who was keen for us to attend a recruitment day they were holding, so I dropped everything and went! I immediately knew this is where I wanted to be and I kept hinting I'd like to chat to someone from the graphics department and sure enough, I was sat around the creative table with the Design team looking through my portfolio later that day!

“Some agencies can seem very out of reach for students, and this is due to the competitive nature of the industry. So I think having that contact from the outset is not only beneficial for the work students produce, but for their confidence too. It makes it easier to put themselves out there to work for places like DRPG.

“The thing I love about design is putting little bits of my imagination and vision into a client’s brand. It's amazing thinking people can get a glimpse to see things through my lens, and I feel so powerful being able to shape emotions and experiences from design."

Marc Austin concludes, “Not only does this offer an amazing opportunity for students, it emphasises the external focus of the Graphic Design course as well as the enthusiasm and employability of our students. To see the success of our graduates who are now working in the industry certainly gives our students something to aspire to and we’re really grateful that DRPG continue to grow their business by employing graduates of the University.”