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A Year in Enterprise: Being a full time Designer/Illustrator 

11 January 2019

4 mins

Until recently, the ‘Year in Enterprise’ option as a placement year was only for students studying a Business subject. Luckily, I discovered it had become an option for ANY student to apply and began my investigations into this ‘mysterious year of wonderful possibilities’.

From a young age I have always had entrepreneurial spirit and have grown up with the idea that I would work for myself in the future. Finding this ‘Year in Enterprise’ option has allowed me to try out this dream of mine in a year where I have the support of the University and no pressure of just having graduated! Win, win.

Completing my application and having an interview were the steps to getting onto the year. I did this successfully, along with around 10 other students. Over the summer we completed a few days’ worth of workshops. Feeling slightly out of my depth being an art student, I asked numerous questions regarding all the business jargon that was being thrown around the room.

But like a good sponge I soaked up all the information I could; I knew this was an excellent opportunity for me to learn things that would be invaluable to me in the future. Insurance, profit and loss budgets, and yearly plans decided I went back to my summer holidays motivated and ready to get started.

Shortly after these workshops I received a message through my Etsy store from an American wholesale company Primitives by Kathy who were interested in licensing some illustration work for use on products in their nationwide store.

I was pretty gobsmacked at the news but worked incredibly hard alongside their team to create a range of illustrations that we were both pleased with. This was my first experience working with a client who wasn’t a friend of a friend etc. so I spent a long time researching into contracts, invoices and how the currency would be changed.

I learnt a lot, not only about my illustration style but also my business.

I am so very grateful for the time and support the Enterprise Year has given me in order for me to work on such projects. I have been contacted by the team again for some more work which will further benefit my portfolio and develop my work as an illustrator even further, not to mention going towards paying off that student loan! This experience fully propelled me into working freelance, like a real adult!

Following on from this work I have experimented with many ways of earning an income as an illustrator. Craft fairs, portrait commissions and making greeting cards have all taken up my time and from this I have learnt which are most profitable and rewarding.

A highlight of the year so far was being selected to feature in the Open 29, an open exhibition in Leicester city centre which showcases a wide range of art styles.

Alongside full-time work from either my bedroom or the art school studios I have continued University life. Being the media representative for AU Badminton has allowed me to invest my skills in the sport I spend all my free time playing whilst also developing my portfolio.

Ultimately, I am incredibly grateful to have been given this opportunity to develop my creative skills into a business. A large number of creatives work freelance, so I would encourage anyone who wants to work for themselves, creative or not, to look into the ‘Year in Enterprise’ as an option for, a different, but equally as rewarding year at University. I will be updating you on how the year goes at the end, but for now thanks for listening and Happy New Year!


Anyone wishing to find out more about Lauren, her projects and artwork can do so:

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