October 31, 2019

Sophie Tobin

Since graduating in illustration from Cardiff Met in 2018, I’ve gone on to work at the fashion department of the Telegraph newspaper.

As a Fashion Assistant, I work on fashion, celebrity and still life photoshoots, put together shopping pages for the Telegraph’s Stella magazine, attend fashion week and upload online articles.

I recently styled my first fashion editorial, and will be working on a still life shoot in a couple of weeks. I’ve worked on photoshoots everywhere from Seville to a French chateau to a beach in Littlehampton.

A big part of coming up with a concept for a photoshoot is about the mood you are trying to communicate. With a fashion editorial, you are telling a story through clothes, location, props and lighting; giving the subject a reason to be where they are, and in the outfit they are in.

Illustration is also about communication, and although I have not gone on to pursue a career as an illustrator, the way that we speak to the reader through images is still very relevant to executing a successful photoshoot.

The things I learned on my course have been very valuable to me along the way. It helped me develop my own visual language, instilled the work ethic I needed to produce a final project I could be proud of and provided me with lots of transferrable skills.

During my degree I also took a year out to study and intern in Sweden as part of the university’s Erasmus programme. I was on the design course at Gothenburg University for 6 months, and then interned at a fashion magazine and PR agency in Stockholm.

This year out was so valuable for me – it didn’t just mean I could learn about and live in a new country, it also pushed me out of my comfort zone. It allowed me to experience the real-world working environment of an area that I was interested in.

My time in Sweden really helped with my course and my career.

Throughout the first two years of my degree, I struggled to find a visual language that worked for me and allowed me to communicate my ideas effectively. The perspective I gained from living and working in Sweden gave me the confidence to pursue video as a medium in my final year, which I had not previously considered.

I was also inspired by my dissertation tutor Cath Davies’ lectures on the feminine and grotesque, with the research from my own dissertation project fuelling my subject work.

Working with tutors and technical demonstrators, I developed a really strong work ethic. Being in the studio from 9-5 every day and attending regular tutorials helped me progress steadily towards a final outcome I was really proud of.

The transferable skills that I developed on my course have also played a big part in finding a career that I love. Careful time management, understanding the importance of research, a set daily routine and lots of hard work have seen me through 8 internships and into my role at the Telegraph.

During one of my internships, I asked the Fashion Editor if she had any advice on how to make it in fashion – she told me, ‘be nice and work hard’. Although it seems simple, this has really stuck with me.

My time at Cardiff Met was a real lesson in how hard work can get you to where you would like to be.