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Learn Graphic Design FAST

Learn Graphic Design FAST

Looks like I’ve wasted the last decade then…


This really pisses me off. This sort of thing damages our industry. This gives the impression that Graphic Design is nothing more than a set of rules, or a program to master, devoid of all meaning beyond eye candy.

What this course won’t teach you, is how to think!



Better awareness of graphic design can only be a good thing. If we were all a little better informed then some of the ludicrous situations we all find ourselves in from time to time with clients or suppliers etc might be avoided. Perhaps this is a course that people working with graphic designers should be sent on.

This sort of thing adds weight to the argument heard all the time from clients who just don’t see the value or artistry in design, very often we’re seen purely as people who know how to use a Mac…



I see what your saying, but I do get worried when everybody and their grandmothers are now ‘designers’. This is just fuel to the fire.

For me the heading just says it all. “learn graphic design FAST”, this will probably lead to “design me a logo FAST”, “build me a website FAST”, “do me a poster FAST”…

This and things such as the public bashing of the 2012 logo just belittles what we do, no disrespect intended, I looked at the website, the work is quite stylish, but what concernes me is that it will be a decoration course, not a design one.

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Hi evrybody,
i’m allready thinking about that collage for over 6months.
First when i saw advert i thought same, but then when i saw student works on their website, it seemd nice.
I have some experiance in Graphic Design, and thats why i was thinking that learning 8 hours per day for over 3 montsh is same as masters course for over 1 year.
maybe i was wrong, i don’t know, but other fact is that their students get jobs, and important thing for me is to find a job. As well international students in universities have to pay about 8000 per year, and these collage costs only 7000 and they say that students can get jobs.
please tell me what you think about my arguments,


Well yes, I guess it just depends on what sort of job you want to get.

You can teach people how to use a Mac and stuff like that, (everyone’s a designer these days you see) but you can’t necessarily teach just anyone to be talented, you either have it or you don’t, and you only really improve through experience.

Ask yourself what you want to learn, and are you going to get that from these guys? If not, get it some other way. Put yourself in situations which stretch you and build a great portfolio to approach companies with yourself. This course is absolutely nothing like a masters course, no matter how you do the maths.

You’re the expert on you. It’s really only up to you whether you feel it’s what you need. If it helps your employment prospects go for it, just don’t expect it to be the answer…


Well I studied at university, wasted 4 years…..
I’ve been to the open day but you know I’m quite impressed by the quality of work the students seem to produce from this course. Man I wish my portfolio was as good as some the ones I saw tonight!!!!

Actually talent means nothing, if a genuine interest is there you can pretty much do anything including graphic design. From what I’ve seen so far it’s impressive I say, whatever this firm is doing it seems to work.



“Actually talent means nothing, if a genuine interest is there you can pretty much do anything including graphic design. ”

Couldn’t disagree more I’m afraid…


i have been considering the 3month fulltime course here to, its just the £. Is is a large amount to commit for just 3months, but this seems the perfect option for me to change my career path. I have always been artistic an very creative. i did a degree in advertising and brandins and nearly have a years experience in marketing under my belt. i have designed logos an web designs in my current company&had the designer create them on the computer. My designs are getting chosen by clients an managers over the designers so i think i have the talent, i just need a way to learn more skills an computer software. Is this the course for me do you think??



Advertising, Branding and Marketing are not Graphic Design. Do you love Graphic Design?

If you actually want to learn computer software skills then find a course specifically for that rather than this one if it’s expensive.

If you think you’re talented, just get on with it. If you want to design, start designing now instead of going on a 3 month course to prepare. Experience is the key, you aren’t going to learn anything there which you couldn’t find out for yourself if you wanted to. Save yourself the money and just get stuck in, you’ll soon see if it’s something you’re good at and enjoy. You’ll only get a design job by having a good portfolio of work anyway no matter what courses you can say you’ve been on.

Graphic Design isn’t the same as knowing how to use a Mac. Perhaps you should be supporting your designer instead of planning how to do without them.


“Perhaps you should be supporting your designer instead of planning how to do without them.”

What a load of rubbish. If clients and so on are choosing her designs over those of someone who is supposed to be trained to fulfil that role, then perhaps she should (as she is) be thinking about changing to what she perceives as a more fulfulling career.


Rubbish? Perhaps. My opinion? I’m afraid so.

You can choose to disagree, but perhaps you missed the fact that I was encouraging the original poster to follow her career aspirations, I just don’t think the Shillington course is going to deliver her a successful career automatically and I’d hate to see her waste money on it expecting that. There’s no substitute for hard work and experience. There’s no fast track to ‘becoming’ a graphic designer, it takes your whole career. Three months is a fairly inconsequential amount of time to expect to ‘Learn’ graphic design.

I notice your IP address is the University of Reading, if you’re a student perhaps you’re frustrated that you’re wasting 33 months on the wrong course. If you’re a lecturer, perhaps you realise you could teach graphic design 12 times faster…


I work in the marketing and events department of our local council I think I’ve got an eye for design but am not sure how to use all the applications properly so get a bit frustrated – I’ve only ever been on an InDesign foundation course. Would this course teach me how to use the Design Suite do you think?


Well if you have an eye for design, learning the software applications is easy. I would imagine this course will cover software, but you should contact them directly and ask if there are specific things you need from it. Three months isn’t much to fit everything in.

On a related matter, I did love the advertising campaign a while back for Salford:

There’s an example of having a good idea, the execution and design is pretty unimpressive but the idea is great…


Thanks for the response both Richard and Leon. Quite rightly Leon, i am not trying to steal the current designers job, but found something i want to learn more about to develop my skills. I support my designer incredibly and surley if they come to me and value my opinion and creativity that says something, even they belived i should be persuing this as a career path. I know three months wouldnt teach me to be a graphic designer (although it is 8.30am-6 5 days a week and constant briefs/projects) but i am simply looking for technical skills which this course is focussed on (shillington college is not proclaiming it teaches you the same as a degree, but high technical abilities).

Yes you can teach yourself which i have been trying to do with the many online tutorials, but maybe im better taught in a more structured way (thats just me)?? Experience is the key, but its very diffiult to find a company particularly at the moment who would take me on to simply teach me technical skills in the adobe suites whilst i preformed marketing,pr and seo activities for them. It seems courses in Manchester are limtied to all theory based and having to go back and do a full degree or shillington college which is the complete opposite on a strictly adobe indesign,illustrator, phototshop course which is focussed on as you said your valuable portfolio but with a wopping £6k price tag. There are adobe classes out there but from friends experiences they teach you little or nothing and to realy get worthwill learning from them you have to entail numerous courses some times at £400 a pop all of which i would have to be taking out of my fulltime current job.



Hello everyone – I have always had a long standing passion for design, after studying business and marketing at college/uni I now want to have a career change and enter a business I am passionate about – I have been looking at this course as the structure seems right for me and I will be going along to one of their open days next week –

I have a solid commercial background and experienced with with working with clients and face to face basis – I feel I have a real flare for design and its something that I want to pursue –

do you think that this course would be a good grounding in the basic principals of design/software? Are there any additional pointers or suggestions for an aspiring graphic designer?



Blake, if you have any specific requirements for the course, you should ring them and find out if it’s exactly what you are looking for.

In three months I can only assume they will attempt to introduce you reasonably superficially to the main aspects of the job and work through some briefs to build a body of work for you to go out and get a job.

Some people on this thread are obviously looking for an Adode CS Suite course, and so if that’s what you’re after there might well be something more specific on offer elsewhere. My problem with this course is the idea of learning ‘graphic design’ fast. It’s not possible. Learning the CS suite however, for some people could be spending the weekend reading a book about it.

Design principles will take you your lifetime to master. They are the sort of things it is easy to read or write down and repeat back, but putting into practice bears no relation to simply being aware of them. And anyway, you can’t break the rules until you’re an authority on them, and that’s when the fun starts.

As for general advice for aspiring graphic designers, I’d say be curious about everything, ask questions and stretch yourself. Never let a client see anything you’re not happy with and never lose sight of the brief. Take time to come up with a great idea, the aesthetics are subjective, but a fantastic idea will always win the day.

You might also like to check out Ben Terrett’s 7 habits of highly effective people which are all good sensible advice. I’m still working on the always being early bit…

Ultimately if you like the look of this course and it is offering the things you are looking for then go for it, but as I’ve said above, don’t expect it to be the answer.


‘Learn Graphic design fast’ I think is a response to the ‘Learn graphic design slow’ method which is currently taught at UK universities .

The course was set up by a disgruntled graphic designer who found that he could not recruit designers who had any computer skills which in this day and age is ludicrous and many of the students
on the course have actually just finished graphic design degrees without the essential skills required to get a job in the industry. Whilst Shillington can claim to have students with jobs in agencies as reputable as Frost

Shillington College does not claim that when you complete the course, whether over 3 months or a year part time, that you will be the finished article but does claim to give the basic framework to start a career
as a junior and from there the skies the limit because in this game we never stop learning.

I have a BA AND MA in Graphic design but specialising in illustration and am finding the course focused and unpretentious.

I do think that a lot of designers think themselves rather special and talented and a course like this which demystifies their ‘talent’ is probably a little threatening.


But Peter, you ARE special.

The course may well be fantastic, but the advertisement is awful. It professes to teach graphic design in 3 months, not InDesign. You cannot ‘learn’ graphic design in three months, as you are clearly aware from your illustrious educational journey thus far, and the implication (whether intentional or not) that learning software makes you a designer is a damaging one. (See for evidence) We don’t need any more people claiming to be designers because they can stack their palettes nicely in Illustrator.

Shillington College are responsible for their own choice of words, not anyone else, and they have clearly confused some people on this thread at the very least. This course doesn’t seem to demystify a designer’s talent, so much as demystify the Adobe CS Suite. In fact there’s nothing mysterious about talent, it is a clear quality which cannot be automated. It’s a mystery to me how anyone can be expected to become more talented through screen burn.

I’m afraid I think the advert is misguided and misleading.


Is this advertisement misleading Richard or does it just anoy you personally as a graphic designer?
If you need to hear the word your SPECIAL thats fine, but do not deter those have maybe not fond their path in design as fast as you have. The advert is designed to attract those who would benefit from a course such as this and it seems to be doing this well, so surely its not misguided or misleading, yet successful?

Anyone who has considered this course or made comment on this post has not asked the question “will i be a graphic designer after this course”, thats because they are not stupid and look at the course as a way to explore or develop new or skills.

each and to their own opinion, but surley with with Peter (someone doing the actual course) praising its focus when already having an strong background in design, it says something to the course being what others might just be looking for in their situation.


Well Richard I don’t think it’s misleading because it does teach graphic design,well….Fast.
Incredibly fast compared with with the educational institutions which are currently pumping out students without the skills to do the job and these student’s and often their parents have forked out a small fortune.
Is it misguided? If you read the complete ad it says exactly what the course offers.

You seem to be using the ad as a stick to beat the course with and I think it’s the course that’s got under your skin.

What they concentrate on is giving you the skills to to the job AND understanding design principles along the way. It has nothing to do with crowd sourcing design websites at all which I despise.

And Richard you a ARE truly special if you can learn Creative Suite in a weekend. I know professional
photographers who have taken years to uncover the depths of photoshop.


Oh! and to clear up another misconception about the Shillington course on this thread.
It is portfolio based- you don’t get some Adobe certificate – you get a portfolio of your design work which, as we all know, is how you can gauge if someone my be helpful to your organisation.

Love your work Richard and your blog.


Vicky: It does both I’m afraid. I’ve actually encouraged everyone who has participated in this thread and asked for my advice. If the course is right for you go for it, but remember that you cannot learn graphic design in three months.

Peter: I love you too. There’s some nice photography on your site.

You guys are obviously both fans of the ad and I am not, so let’s just agree to disagree, as I’m as happy with my opinion of it as you are with yours. Seeing as this thread now comes up as one of the first few Google search results for ‘Shillington College’ I can understand why a body of people might wish to visit it and redress the balance, and I’m certainly happy with the hit count.

I wish you both well with your studies, good luck with it…

…we’re ALL special.


I’m baffled by some of the comments on this thread. This thread isn’t so much a reflection on Shillington College (who I’m sure are a fine college producing solid work) but the perception on the perception of what Graphic Design is.

Learning how to lay a brick won’t make you an architect, the same way that knowing how to handle some CS software won’t qualify you as a designer. Last time I checked there was no ‘design’ button on a mac, yes it will be useful to master the tools, but to be a designer you need to have the foundation of having ideas.

Any Creative Director worth their salt would rather you turn up to an interview with an original idea drawn on a bit of used tissue than see a beautifully executed, lazer-cut-foil-blocked and embossed bit of holowness.

Sure there are jobs to be had out there where you just ‘design’, and maybe this kind of course would be ideal for people with that aspiration, or for people who already have strong ideas and would like to polish their presentation skills. But don’t expect to ‘learn graphic design fast’, expect to learn the basics of creative suite in three months, the rest is up to you…


A designer is someone who solves complex visual communication problems by taking the same information as everyone else, but coming to an original and more effective conclusion. A designer is not someone who can choose a typeface, or flick through a Pantone swatch and make a page of images and text look OK.

I’ve got nothing against Shillington College, and I would definitely encourage ANYONE to follow their passions and go for what they believe in. However, you cannot learn graphic design in 3 months, and suggesting this devalues design as a whole.


Is this still a live thread? This course at Shillington is provoking a very mixed response! I’ve been coming back to peruse the website for the last year or so – it seems a good starting point (yet an expensive one). I’m not sure I’d be considering it if I didn’t have formal training already although my degree was Design Communication with a slant on graphics. I wouldn’t say I graduated as a competent designer but the degree course was critical to get people to start thinking like a designer and I can’t see how the shillington course can replace that. In saying that it seems like it’s filling a gap in the market for career changers or people like me who need a specific learning. Richard a designer with your cred could also lend some to a course like this – have you thought about teaching????!!!


I’d love to do teaching of some description someday, but I can’t imagine the interview going well once the Shillington guys read this thread.

Perhaps I should advertise…


I’m sure we wouldn’t hold it against you….much

I spotted this blog some time ago. Nothing wrong with a bit of healthy debate. As a college the questions the normal way of doing things we expect to have our critics. Even some of our lecturers have had their doubts before working here because they, as many designers, would have gone down the traditional route of university.

We’re confident in what we do and what our students achieve (and I’m certainly not here for the hard sell) so I’ll skulk back into the shadows and leave you to it.

(Lovely work by the way Richard)


A friend of mine sent me to this interesting thread. As someone who completed the 12 month part-time Shillington Course in Mebourne, AU some years ago I found the course extremely helpful and it helped me improve my self-taught skills significantly by giving me the grounding of design principals. The course is not for everyone however you learn how to implement your creative designs into a professional quality product. It was very interesting when preparing our portfolio at the end of the year to see how much everyone had improved from the beginning of the course. I have encouraged two of my friends to do the course and their portfolios are amazing. THANK YOU Shillington College


Thanks for the compliment Jen, to be fair I’ve only ever had a problem with the advertisement itself. From what I’ve read, the college sounds admirable, I just can’t condone the way that campaign sold it. It obviously worked for them, but I didn’t like it I’m afraid.

Perhaps it could be turned into a project. Get all new students to re-imagine the advertising campaign. Best one gets used next time.


A quote from last night’s Neville Brody lecture I thought the readers of this thread might like:

“You don’t need talent to learn skills”


So what exactly is ‘talent’ – Discuss.


I’ll go with number 1, “a special natural ability or aptitude”, not so much the ancient Hebrew currency thing.


1. a special natural ability or aptitude: a talent for drawing.
2. a capacity for achievement or success; ability: young men of talent.
3. a talented person: The cast includes many of the theater’s major talents.
4. a group of persons with special ability: an exhibition of watercolors by the local talent.
5. Movies and Television. professional actors collectively, esp. star performers.
6. a power of mind or body considered as given to a person for use and improvement: so called from the parable in Matt. 25:14–30.
7. any of various ancient units of weight, as a unit of Palestine and Syria equal to 3000 shekels, or a unit of Greece equal to 6000 drachmas.
8. any of various ancient Hebrew or Attic monetary units equal in value to that of a talent weight of gold, silver, or other metal.
9. Obsolete. inclination or disposition.
bef. 900; ME, OE talente < L talenta, pl. of talentum < Gk tálanton balance, weight, monetary unit Synonyms: 1. capability, gift, genius. See ability.


OK. If accepting definition no.1, The prerequisite for a Graphic designer is talent,
then all education is pretty much redundant, whether fast or slow. One must have ‘the gift’.


I have always assumed any ‘talent’ I have was aquired by a combination of hard work and attained knowledge. Oh well, guess I’ll just have to settle for being skilled.


Can’t we have both? I kind of thought it probably worked like this:


So some people have more talent but others more than make up for less talent with hard work. I always felt reassured that even if I was never the most talented person at my Uni or place of work, that I could still compete by learning and applying myself.

Talent=Nature Skill=Nurture

I didn’t really think this was depressing, but inspiring really.

Oh, and I held up the Wanker card at the Neville Brody thing, so I didn’t agree with a lot of what he said but the moment he mentioned talent I thought of this thread.


Right folks, I am just approaching the last week in Shillington College so maybe that would be a useful thing to hear about.
The basic facts about Shillington are that the tutors are graphic designers themselves. The students come from all sorts of backgrounds, with varying levels of experience, talent and commitment to what they have signed up for and also different age groups. The 3 month course is a VERY intensive course. The classes are made up of about 25-30 people. During the course about 50 briefs are being completed. Classes last from 8 in the morning to 5 in the evening, two 15 min breaks and one 1h lunch break.
The programs used through out the course are InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop. Goal of the course for everyone is to leave with an impressive portfolio that shows not as much perfection as it shows potential and dedication.

My personal opinion is that this is not an “easy solution”. It is madness to claim that any course – university or college, Shillington or internship – will make you a perfect professional. Shillington does a outstandingly good job at giving the basics of theoretical graphic design, teaching the fundamentals of the programs used and more than anything prepares you for the real life working environment. The tutors pay attention to each individual.
At the end of the day what you do with what you learned in Uni or at Shillington is up to you. I think a combination of both would be fabulous – at the open day night I attended the one thing that actually won me over was the statement: “There must be room on this planet for both Shillington and University”
Both are different routes into graphic design, I do know from people who have studied at Uni and then came to the course that they felt they had learned more in 3 weeks than after a year in Uni.
And the notes handed out though out the course, as well as eg the visual diaries each student is asked to keep really are useful for the life after shillington.

what really set this thread on fire is the ad from the college, which i too find slightly dodgy. its not a lie though.
I am annoyed by the barking responses. What do you base your negative opinion on? Been to the open night? Seen a graduates portfolio? Worked with one? If not, GIVE IT A CHANCE because i sure as hell would do the exact same thing again, sign up, move to London and work my butt off.

Who knows what the future brings, I hope I will be able to learn until I die…


Hi folks.

Iv’e been giving this idea a lot of thought over the past 6 months or so, about Shillington, but I want to enrol on the course in Australia. The reasoning behind this is that I want to get permanent residency there eventually and with having an Australian qualification and skills this can only help my cause.

Either way, its something I need to decide about. The reason for this blog was, I was wondering if anyone has actually done that, gone to study in Oz?? It would be great if anyone can share their experiences with me, good and bad, just to get some more ideas.

I have to be sure Im doing the right thing because it is a lot of money and it would mean leaving a perfectly good job, but life’s alll about risks I guess……………

Many thanks peeps

akintola hammed

i want to lear graphic designhow many months or year will it take me to learn


I second Ellen’s comments. I’m 4 weeks away from graduation and can say that from my experience, I’ve learnt more in the last 8 weeks than I did in a 3 year degree in Visual communication, not to mention the last six years I’ve spent working on the periphery of a graphic design job in various photographic, photo editing, copywriting and marketing jobs I’ve had since I graduated from Uni.

No, not every graduate is going to walk out of the college and into a designer’s job, but they will walk away with all the fundamentals sitting comfortably and the confidence and a kick ass portfolio to land them interviews. The rest is up to them. If they can land a job as a junior and expand on their sound practical and theoretical skills in using the CS software, design principals, typography, etc then they deserve the chance. The industry will decide whether they ‘make it’ as a designer or not, as will the individual’s dedication to the industry.


Hi Hillary

Can I ask you where you are studying? I posted a message here a while back about the idea of studying abroad(Australia) and weather or not anybody thought it to be a good or bad idea? To me, the cost is the most off putting thing right now and to study abroad would obviously be more expensive. I guess Im looking for someone to say yeah go and do it, but that wont happen. I need to decide for myself.

Any comments would be greatfully received though

Holster® | Mike Dempsey’s graphic journey

[…] doing it and eagerly learned everything he could. That was all very reassuring. People over in the Shillington College thread take note. He’s still doing it today, getting to grips with new technologies on one of […]


Hi Jamie, sorry for the late reply! I have now finished the course in London, UK. You can take the course here or in Manchester, and they have just finished setting up a school in New York. Of course you can opt to study in Australia where Shillington has a great reputation, but the course content is the same and its the portfolio you end up with that will get you a job.

Since finishing the course I have had 5 interviews- three for internships and two for actual junior designer jobs, which is a promising start being only 3 weeks out of the course!! I hope to hear back from them in the week or so- the interview process is a slow and painstaking process over here. Two of them told me they received more than 100 applications but I got called in because of the quality of my portfolio- comments were that they can see sound technical skills and knowledge coming through in my work, which for a junior role is the most important thing to demonstrate- that you know the software, good type setting and design fundamentals. The most creative designer in the world wont get a job if they cant demonstrate a good understanding and appreciation of typography.

The lifestyle in Australia is great so if you can afford it, go for it. I’m from Sydney and miss the location/beaches/ etc a lot. But it would be expensive to relocate, etc. If you can afford it, do it, if not, look in to studying at Shillington at one of the other locations.

If you’ve got any more questions, I’m happy to help if I can :)


Hi Hillary,

No worries. I can appreciate how hectic life as a student can be. Good news about the interview situation. Hope you get somewhere you really like. I recently went to the college in Manchester for a talk with the tutor that runs the course and had a look around and at some of the portfolio’s that the students have put together, some very impressive pieces I must say.
I think the only part that is putting me off really is the cost of the course, if it was a couple of grand cheaper I would enrol without hesitation, and coupled with the fact that it is only 3 months f/t is a bit off putting for me. I have read quite alot of reviews about the course saying that quite a few people found it as comprehensive as doing 3 years at uni. For me personally I think that the main reason that I wanted to study in Australia is due to the fact that I kind of fell in love with the place when I was travelling there a few years ago, my thinking was/is that if I studied over there and graduated it would be slightly easier to get residency there and remain there. In retrospect I think it would make more sense to possibly study here, in Manchester or London then see what happens, the trouble being with me though is that Im very indecisive so it could take me years to decide weather or not it is the right thing to do??? Did you find it an easy decision to make, studying abroad?



Hey Jamie,
looking back I loved Shillington and the teachers in London, however the course fees are a couple of grand cheaper in Australia. London is really expensive as we all know anyway, for me to move there just for the course kinda doubled the bill if you consider travel, lunches, course expenses like magazines and working materials you might want to use plus travel and other stuff that comes up. … worth giving australia a call I’d say and ask about accomodation ect. do your maths and … go for whatever heart AND head can live with :)


Hi Jamie, not sure how long ago you posted this but I’m traveling to Melbourne from the UK in August 2010 to study at Shillington. I say go for it…let me know if you’re doing the same.


Hey Nick,

Sounds good, how easy did you find the decision? Im still wondering what the best solution would be?? I know that I wont be over there for August……

Hope all goes well, oh and remember top take some fairly warm clothes, I spent August in Melb and it wasnt all that warm from what I can recall…..


Hey guys, this thread is simply awesome for a person in my position… Sorta stuck between little options for graphic design. I was recommended by Graphic Designing Companies around Brisbane (AUS) about Shillington College. I’m like okay…3 months thats a tad short…cert 4 okay…WOAH 9 grand. Worth it? What I’m really confused is how large is the success rate for students? Sure you can have wizz bang students with great work, but who knows the others who came out as shit… Love a response.


Manchester, UK – Part time Level 4 Graphic Design Course – Sept 2010

This part-time course is scheduled to start at The Manchester College, Manchester, UK in September. This version of the course will take place in the evenings. Because it is an evening course applications can be made directly to the college and do not require processing by UCAS. At the end of the course you will receive a level 4 qualification and will be eligible for direct entry into the final year of the degree course at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU – where Peter Saville studied!). The course will only cost you a fraction of what it will cost you to study at The Shillington College (not that I have anything against what Shillington are doing).

I need to stress that I am not an employee of The Manchester College. I am a prospective student of the college who has been offered a place and is keen to continue their studies there in September.

The tutor has already received a handful of applications, but requires a few more so that the minimum quota of students is met for the course to run. If the minimum quota is not met then the course will not run.

You can learn more here:

and by contacting the college.

Thanks for reading.


Hey Stu,

Hopefully some Shillington graduates will jump on here and reply to you. I’m the Studio Manager of Shillington in Australia and therefore could be considered a teeny bit biased.

I guess you’ve got to remember that 3 months on our course equates to 540 contact hours. That’s a lot! Full-time it’s 8 to 5 every day with an hour for lunch. It’s structured like a working day in a studio and I think the one on one time you have with lecturers is incomparable with Uni/TAFE courses. Obviously we cannot control the outcome of every individual who does the course but anyone who is dedicated, passionate and proactive usually does well. I see the digital portfolios of all students in the UK and Australia and I can say that even the less naturally talented students have good quality portfolios and can still find work in the industry if they chose to when they graduate. A job isn’t going to drop in your lap just because you’ve completed a course but I think that’s the same for any industry.

The lecturers here have really high standards and that does lift the quality of everyone’s work. This is helped further as the small class sizes meaning you’re critiqued regularly and receive a lot more one on one feedback from your lecturers.

As I said, I hope you get some feedback and it’s right to do plenty of research as it is a big commitment. I just wanted to clarify that the three month timeframe shouldn’t be seem as a short course as you are spending 40 hours a week learning. We’re also a private college so we don’t get government funding to subsidise the tuition fees.

All the best with whatever you decide to do and get in touch if you need to.


ali sabet

I agree with you guys – but i also have a similar tagline – for my online sabet design academy (the academy is pretty tong in cheek)
overall I feel that most schools around here in the states are a waste of money and time. Most of the students I see one on one don’t know how to solve problems and design at all even after all the schooling. Even though my tagline says learn design. Fast – my meaning behind it is much much deeper. My program is as much about finding your voice through design, problem solving, creative analysis as it is about learning how to design fast. I believe in rapid creation, and I think we can all work towards it and learn it.


A little note to employees of Shillington College who are corresponding with potential or past students on this thread…

…perhaps I could ask you to post your email addresses here for people to contact you directly about specific course or college enquiries…?

Feels like it would be more appropriate.


It’s for Australian enquiries or for the UK.


Hi my name is andy and I studied architetcure at university. After four years at university I have gained design skills and want to become a grahic designer as through my university life I was more attracted to graphic presentation rather than building design. I found the Shillington course online in Manchester – and agree that it is expensive. I studied art until A-level and I am competant in photoshop and just need that guidance on how to produce a great portfolio. Is this the course for me?? it wud be great to hear from past graduates of the scheme




well, it definately got my attention, and I’m seriously thinking of signing up or at ;east going to the open day…
isn’t that what an effective ad is meant to do?


Richard you sound like you are a bit annoyed at others being succesfull in a shorter period of time to you.
I’ve always thought it important to work smart and hard… not just hard.


Not at all Tim. I think you might have entirely missed the point.


Andy, this is definitely the course for you, I’d say. Photoshop won’t fluster you as much if you got some experience and Shillington, if anything, allowed me to get the portfolio that opens doors (still does!) with my own ideas and some tutor-magic: I’ll never forget the feeling of awe – kinda: ‘how the f did you spot that in one tiny moment while I can’t see it since 4 hours?!’
When I was at Shillington a really nice lady from Manchester, I think her name is Orla, came down to teach us for a couple of days (they do that quite frequently, just to mix things up a bit for all involved).
Go to the open door night, have a look around and speak to the people. Convince yourself!


Hi Andy, have you considered The Manchester College? You will be able to study graphic design there full or part-time at only a fraction of the cost of the fees at Shillington.


thanks for ur comments- si i did have a look at the manchester course however it is over two years. after 4 years at uni i feel that i need to get on and the condensed fast pace of Shillington appeals to my situation. I visited it and was very impressed by the professionalism of the people and the work and structure of the course!!!


Hi I’ve applied for The Manchester College – Digital Graphic Design. Has anyone been on that course and is it any good? I want to do the part time evening one so I can study around my job.


Hello, everybody. Is anyone out there from the other country(not from UK), who visited Shillington? What about if your english is not the best, …could you follow the class?
Thanx nd all the best,


Hi Guys,

I, like a few other here, am considering studying at Shillington but am swaying toward the Part-time course rather than the full-time for 2 reasons.

One, it’s £7000 for part-time compared to £9000 for full-time.
Secondly, I will be able to stay in my job and earn. Also, the company I work for is pretty big and has 3 creative departments where I aspire to work! I’ve been shadowing a designer and trying to get expressed my deep interest in becoming a designer to them. And although I also do some illustrations, and have created a logo and done other little projects out of work, I know I have to learn much more technical skills. So I thought, if I studied at Shillington whilst working I could not only get the designers to critique my work and possibly help me out (which a couple have told me they would do) as I study but also when I finish at Shillington I may be able to start design freelancing for my company or apply for an internship.

The only thing is, it seems the Shillington courses’ greatest selling point it seems is that it is an intensive course that teaches you the basics of design using the Adobe suite within 3 months over 540 contact hours. I feel as though the part-time is the 2nd rate option especially as there are only about 250 contact hours. I have spoken to the course manager (a Mr Julian Salt) at Shillington London, and he was very helpful, he reassured me that the part-time students learn just as much as the full-time students do and they have the same amount of guest lecturers, although part-timers only have 30 projects to complete compared to 40 projects, and the full-timers also get a field trip to a printers.

I just wanted to ask those people who have done the part-time course if they feel that it was as intensive and useful as the full-time seems to be or did they wish they did the full time course!?


Hi Marie, I have also applied for the part-time Digital Graphic Design course at The Manchester College and am looking forward to starting the course in the autumn. I do not know anyone who has completed the course, but I do know that the tutors have some good industry experience and that the course content is well rounded and geared towards preparing students for work in the industry.


I don’t know about the uk, but in the states continuing education certificates are not the same as a BFA from an accredited university. I only hire people who hold a BFA for graphic design or art direction. If someone holds a certificate or has knowledge in the programs they would be lucky to get an entry level production or marketing job. It honestly takes a FT four or five year program to grasp the graphic design process. Also it takes hard work and passion to be a great designer. I can’t respect someone who is trying to go the easy route…I mean I’m looking for a hard working designer to hire not someone who’s looking to cut corners.


Luckily most decent employers hire their design staff based on quality of work rather than the piece of paper they acquired learning how to produce it.


Crystal, you obviously don’t know a lot about the ‘graphic design process’ to make such a ridiculous comment.

As someone who has done both- a university degree and the Shillington course I can safely say I learned a lot more in the 3 months at Shillington than I did at university. Technically, theoretically and creatively I was way more prepared for the industry and much more successful in finding the sort of work I wanted. In less than a month I had several interviews before landing my dream job. The portfolio I produced in that 3 months has impressed everyone from the industry who has seen it.

A short course for a would-be designer is not taking an easy route. Its all about working smarter and not harder and learning the most current, up-to date technology and process in a fast changing industry. I agree that it does take passion and dedication, simply truning up for class is not going to make you a designer, butI wouldnt be wasting my saturday afternoon defending the Shillington course if I didn’t really believe that despite the cost, it was the best money I have ever spent on my future, and an enjoyable learning experience that delivered exactly the result I was looking for- after university failed to do so.


I didn’t mean to offend the Shillington course, I’m sure it is a great program. Also after reading my post, it was a little harsh and offensive and didn’t come out quite right. I do apologize.
I’m sorry Hillary you didn’t get much out of your University, not much I can say about that.
Am I wrong here?
If given the choice between two designers, both with amazing portfolios, both with similar work experience, both have great personalities, one with a BFA and one with a three month certificate program, I’d hire the designer with the BFA.


No need to apologise, you’re entitled to your opinion.

I know a lot of people (professionals) in the industry who would like to change the perception that a university degree is somehow a better qualification for designers. For other professions it may be, but in design, it just simply isn’t the case.

I dont regret going to university, as now when I apply for jobs it seems a lot of people want to meet me because I have a degree. THe fact that they happen to like my work seems secondary to this, and it shouldn’t be that way. Sure, by gaining a degree you prove your ability to persist and pass your subjects over an extended period of time. You might also learn some life skills, but Designers should be judged on the merit of their work, their technical and creative abilities, not the amount of time/money they spent on their education.

If I was you, I would ask the candidate what subjects the took in their certificate program. In the case of Shillington’s syllabus, you’ll find that every single unit is specifically focused on essential skills like typography, design principles, software competency, idea generation, professional development, studio skills. A lot of university courses are made up of electives, which are not always relevant to the degree itself, or are vaguely related and not at all useful. A good friend of mine who is also a designer did his BA and majored in philosophy. Does that make him a better designer? Of course not!

I would also ask how long they spent on each project in their portfolio. Would you hire a designer that can produce an impressive piece of work over a 3 month period, or one that can produce the same standard of work in a 2 day period? In 3 months at Shillington we completed over 45 briefs. At university my major portfolio was completed over a year.

The university candidate is likely to not be able to produce good work within realistic deadlines. If you hired them, you are more likely to spend more time and money bringing them up to speed so they can contribute to the success of your business. Food for thought…


Wow, I think you’re more anti BFA than I am certificate. LOL Not all schools are equal this is true and also may be why so many people have such different philosophies on the subject. I do know my alumni MassArt in Boston and RISD in Providence are both AMAZING schools and I wouldn’t have traded the education for anything even the non design classes;-)….Still working in the area they tend to have better folios, but maybe it’s just Shillington has a better program than the american certificate programs. So enjoy Shillington and what you’ve learned and I’m assuming you are an amazing designer….hey If I see someone from Shillington I’ll check them out, maybe you could do the same if you see someone from RISD or Massart:-) Cheers.

Imprint-The Online Community for Graphic Designers | Instant Design: Add Water (and Talent?)

[…] New York, has been causing some consternation in the blogosphere: Here are a few responses from a blog in the UK: “This really pisses me off. This sort of thing damages our industry. This gives […]

Alex Szabo-Haslam

There are some interesting comments on this blog, I thought I’d weigh in with a few of my own.

Although it’s difficult to judge work when it’s out of context, the standard on offer from Shillington College looks around the same standard of pretty much any degree show I’ve been to. If students are managing to achieve that in three months, I take my hat off to them.

University timetables schedule students to be in for around twenty hours per week, but actual contact time with a lecturer, or even group sessions, amounts to no more than about half of a single working day each week. So, do I believe my entire degree could have been condensed to less than a year? Of course. First year was an utter waste of time, none of the projects counted towards the end mark and most of the content was repeated in second year, which itself was stretched out to the point where we spent ten to twelve weeks per project. Third year could easily be condensed too: I managed to fit two jobs around the very few lectures we had and still finish with a 2:1. Not that marks really mean anything: I’ve seen students graduating with a 3rd demonstrate a higher level of understanding with more accomplished projects than some with a 1st.

Any graduate employed as anything other than a Subway sandwich artiste will tell you their degree was an absolute doddle compared to holding down a real job. Before someone levels me for being a slacker when it came to university: I worked hard (particularly in my final year), held several paid placements during various stages of the course, ran several electronic music events and produced some work which was used by a respected record label as part of my major project. What was on offer in terms of course content was mostly fine; there just wasn’t much of it. I don’t regret attending, but the course was lacking in key areas and left me feeling short-changed. I would definitely consider something like Shillington College if were I to study now.

My university degree essentially amounts to the most expensive library card I’ll ever own: input from lecturers was negligible and I consider almost all my learning to have taken place in my own time. With that in mind, do I think it’s possible for a dedicated individual to come away from three months at Shillington College with the same level of understanding and competency as a university graduate? Absolutely. The issue here is not how long the course is; it’s down to a person’s aptitude. Whatever you want, if you’re prepared to put the hours in you’ll find a way to succeed. A university education is not essential to becoming a successful graphic designer, and anyone who considers themselves at their peak after a degree is in for a shock when they start applying for jobs.

One criticism of the Shillington course is that you wont be a professional by the end: exactly the same is true of a degree. If Shillington can give their graduates a good foundation of learning to build upon and also get people into jobs, then surely this is something to celebrate?


Become a Doctor fast!


It now seems that the Manchester College Part time evening course Digital Graphic Design foundation degree course will not be running


What gets me is how expensive everything is these days! I am trying to make my way in the world of Design but fresh out of uni and a minimal portfolio I am not getting very far. It seems like there’s a lot of false promise around. Is anyone coming to the Designers Fiesta? I think it’s in Waterloo, just came accross this- it looks pretty cool! pub straight after sounds good to me :)


Guys – Please just ask Shillington College. There’s a time and place for Cup-a-soup and this is not it.

What do you think of the advert? You know, the one at the top of the post. The one this thread is supposed to be about?


I have read most comments and although most are very valid and reasonable.
I think some of you are a little bitter that if someone can obtain the money to do a course at shillington college to become a designer in 3 months, and everyone else spent 4 years to get where they are now.
Anyone with a creative flair will know this can’t be taught, and if someone without this natrual ability wants to do this and pay they’re own way through it, I can’t see why you all have a problem with that. It’s a life choice to waste money and we’ve all done it in one way or another. If you pay for an education, in what ever time amount of time it takes, if you’re no good at it. You won’t get employed.


[Alan – Become a Doctor fast!]

It exists.

I recall a TV documentary a couple of years ago about a fast track four year medical degree in England; built around modern teaching methods and training workshops. At the end of their first year the students went into hospitals and were considered by their supervisors to be as advanced as traditional third year students on the seven years programme.

See this link:


After studying graphic design at salford uni for a year before deciding it wasn’t for me i stumbled across shillington, at first I couldn’t understand how I could learn graphic design so quickly, needless to say i took the chance and enrolled on the full time course. Originally I had a huge interest for design but lacked the skills on adobe..the course structure was very good from the start with students being taken step by step through the different processes we needed to use for each given brief. the course structure was amazing, with each brief given looking at a different aspect of design, i would typically sign off maybe 3 projects a week, and genuinely enjoyed each one. In terms of uni vs. shillington I produced far more work of a better standard on the 3 month course and looked forward to finishing with a good portfolio of work that would hopefully make me stand out. The intensity of the course left me with all the skills that i needed to get a job and I am now employed as a junior graphic designer for a local media company, the same can’t be said of my mates who finished at uni in salford, none of which were taught to use indesign or taken through the process of building a printed portfolio. in summary Shillington is a great place to learn graphic design, is definitely worth the money and is more career orientated which can’t be a bad thing.


This is a pervasive way of thinking over here. I’ve had two clients let me go after learning a complete tear-down and redesign of their current website could take 12 weeks or more. The thinking is that building a site should take a week, or no longer than a month. We aren’t talking simple sites here either. They are demanding special, secured access for registered users, podcast and video streaming, fillable forms that will pop data into their existing databases, alternative backdoor pages for staff… all this for payment of $1200 total. They ultimately went with cheaper sources and ended up with, in my opinion, cheaper product.


With regards to the Shillington Graphic Design Course, I can say with hand on heart, that having witnessed the hours of work my daughter put in on this course and the quality and dedication required of them as students, this is an excellent course. All of the students on the course at that time already had degrees and were motivated people. However, this course does not only teach Graphic Design, it prepares it’s students for the real world of work and how to do a job professionally and to a high standard. I for one am very impressed. If you are not willing to put in some hard graft however, don’t do this course.


To counter all of this – I agree with Richard; the advert is making it seem that graphic designers can be simply churned out ‘fast’. It’s over-simplifying the process.

However, the debate about university training versus places offering courses like Shillington’s course is an interesting one, though. And, no, I don’t work for them and am not affiliated with them in any way; I saw their course and started poking round the interwebs for opinions! Before degree level training, would most graphic designers not have honed their craft in a design studio, under the wing of an established designer – no certificate, just on the job training as an apprentice?. Maybe Shillington’s course is trying to bridge the old and new – intense training under designers but with fees to pay? Not saying one method of training is better then the other, but it wasn’t always about degrees. Opinions and wiser knowledge welcome on this, but maybe a bit of food for thought! :)


This is a really interesting discussion to read. I have studied graphic design and finished my journeyman exam in Graphic Design last year. Sadly, having worked at a in-house printing office where a lot is made following the uni templates I don’t have much of a portofolio to show to.

I would love to learn more about how international students (not from UK, US or Australia) who took the course found it (and also outside class, expenses, living, socially, etc.). My contract runs until May, and I like the thought of considering Shillington from next fall, but living in Norway it is hard to decide…


I am quite taken aback by the amount of speculation some of the damning comments are based upon. I’ve read through and the only comments on the quality and any real insight into Shillington experience appear to be from those who have done the course, and this speaks volumes to me.

I teach, and am involved in writing a degree course in illustration… and privately harbour misgivings and a lack of faith in the current academic system, its uses and movement of finance and the motivating factors in running courses.

Shillington is born out of these misgivings, and offer a stripped back, honest, high paced/high quality output. It is worth baring in mind that there is a culture of attending university as psome kind of rites of passage, with expensive and easy to access tuition fees that have no basis in ‘real life’ economics. Students sign up for these debts as easily as they would a gym membership and often live in ignorance of the debt itself. The fees at Shillington aren’t subsidised, and not loaned by a stealth agency… you need to spend your hard earned money on these courses, and you have to make sacrifices to do so. With these sacrifices, come a commitment to learn… which is becoming less prevalent in our higher education institutions.

I have no doubt that the 3 months of high octane, quick fire briefs (reflecting industry timescales) provides as much direct learning and experience as a 3 year degree course, with tutors who are probably a lot less disenchanted than those who have been working in the academic system for many years. It will give the student a realistic set of expectations and experiences, a solid portfolio and enough insight and foundation knowledge of adobe programmes to go and learn the rest themselves (which is what we all do).

University culture on the whole as I’ve experienced it has come to erode the desire to learn with a fervent passion. I think the Shillington offer is well considered, pretty good value course (in the face of the £27,000 tuition fees/3 year commitment a degree requires) some admirable philosophies and outcomes which I am keen to experience it first hand.

As for the advert itself. It is poorly considered and has a ‘pyramid scheme’ feel about it.. ‘earn $4000 a day sat at home etc’. Nonetheless, this is one of many adverts I’ve seen for the institution, the rest of which have been successful in gaining my attention and are well considered. To be fair, this one has done the same, maybe for the wrong reasons… but we are all talking aren’t we? thanks to this advert. Tidy graphics though

Tony Pritchard

The subject line of ‘Learn Graphic Design Fast’ is certainly a great provocation and one that has designers and design educators hot under the collar. It’s the type of provocation Shillington is seemingly founded on. By all accounts Andrew Shillington couldn’t find designers at traditional colleges and universities that he thought were employable. It also plays into the anxieties that twenty or thirty-somethings often have – the last chance saloon or the last roll of the dice. Maybe if you take this course or that course one’s fortunes will change. It’s the dream every aspiring creative person has. We see it on the talent shows. How do you become ‘better’ and get noticed? At its heart there are some good questions. How fast can someone learn anything? What are the essential principles that need to be learnt? What are the learning and teaching methods that can facilitate this? Where to study and how much it will cost follows on from this.

I studied graphic design at Middlesex Polytechnic (now University). I went to work with my tutor in his studio. I worked freelance and in small to medium size companies. I eventually combined professional practice with teaching. I’ve been lucky to have secured a full-time teaching post at the London College of Communication (LCC). I also assess at the annual ISTD Student Assessments which affords me an awareness of current design standards amongst students on UK design courses. I run courses for mature students who are converting career. They have a degree in subjects other than graphic design. I view Shillington and similar organisations as serious competitors to the type of courses I run.

For me, design is more a journey than a destination, a process not just an end product. Someone better than I once commented that ‘typography is a lifelong apprenticeship’ – you don’t really ever master it, you pursue it. My design hero, Geoff White, is a good example of someone who has made it a lifelong pursuit and is still grappling with it in his mid-eighties. I do think that the mechanics of typography should be able to be learnt in the first term (approximately three months) on a full-time undergraduate course. Cultural and historical studies should enable you to root yourself in the tradition and continuum of the subject. Learning the software is also very much part of the deal. I believe you can become a functional designer quite quickly though. What is harder is learning design judgement – being critical and selective. You do need the time factor to practice, try things out and experiment. But then be critical. You need to find your attitude as a designer. I think it has to be something you feel and have an emotional connection with. It combines the cerebral with the visceral. It is a lifelong journey and not just three months.

Short and intense courses can help in providing a community of like-minded people which is motivating. It can provide you with technical and subject skills. Then you are left with the individual. I’m fascinated by those that seem to ‘get it’ quite quickly and those that struggle. People just take different amounts of time to absorb information and use it. I do think most people have the capacity to learn and understand design. A ‘good’ teacher should be able to explain in a way that helps the student to understand. You should also be able to look at ‘good’ examples and learn from those by analysing why others think they are good. Colleges help to contextualise this for students by explaining the theory that underpins the practice. This makes you a more informed and rounded designer.

The advantage of traditional colleges and universities, such as LCC, is that they have good analogue and digital facilities as well as extensive libraries. You get a very hands-on experience of historical and contemporary processes. They are highly motivating communities of practice. It’s the reason why I teach there. To provide a comparison to Shillington I thought it might be interesting to outline another alternative that exists. The two courses I run are PgCert and PgDip Design for Visual Communication. We teach the fundamental design principles (visual language and grammar; typography; colour; and information design). We teach design theory alongside, and not separate from, design practice. We take an integrated approach. We teach the necessary research and development methods to engage with the design process. We provide opportunities to apply the learnt skills to conceptual projects. We do this over a year both in part-time and full-time mode. Graduates have gone on to work at places such as Frost, Spin, Browns, Unit Editions, Fallon, Intro, Design Council, BBC and CERN. They have been published, set up their own companies and even opened a shop. The fees for 2013 are £2500 for part-time and £5000 for full-time. You can read about the courses and see student work here: Here’s our latest publication: You can contact me here:

I hope you will excuse the course promotion, but I wanted to readdress the balance from the perspective of someone involved with what might be perceived as the traditional design education provider.

How to be Good at Graphic Design | Tony Pritchard's Blog

[…] This post is in response to a discussion thread on Richard Holt’s blog. The discussion centred around an advert Shillington College had placed with the copy line: Learn […]


This thread has been going on for a while, I didn’t read it all, not going to lie, but I felt the obligation to take a minute to post my opinion.

I took this course in NYC in 2012. It’s been the best thing I’ve done in a long time. It’s true I had a background in architecture, so I wasn’t completely new to the world of design, or at least visual aesthetics, but taking this course definitely took my design to a whole new level in a very short time. I’ve been recommending it to anyone who wants to get into this world without spending 5 years in school, because at the end of the day there isn’t all that much to learn about design from a book (some theory is important, don’t get me wrong), but there is a lot to practice!