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Inspiring New Zealand’s Future Digital Designers

YOOBEE @Natcoll Design School helps its digital design students to achieve their dream careers by providing a solid grounding in the real world.

“It’s not about a teacher lecturing at the front of the classroom,” says General Manager – Education, Ruth Cooper. “It’s about creating experiences that mirror what working in the digital design industry is really like.”

Four Diploma of Computer Graphic Design students recently worked on such a project, designing packaging for a sub-range of Whittakers chocolate blocks aimed at “hipster professional men”. They have entered their concept into The Dieline Package Design Awards. Search “Natcoll” at www.thedieline.com to view it online.

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Learning how to design a product to fit with a brand and a target market like this is a crucial part of the students’ work.

“It’s not just about the technical skills,” says Ms Cooper. “They have to be able to fulfil a design brief and make their clients happy.”

Isaac Chen, one of YOOBEE @Natcoll’s international graduates, says this was one of the most important ways his study prepared him for his new role. Isaac is now a senior designer for New Sun in China, working on the Mobile China account – one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world. 

He says his study taught him how to get the balance right between being creative and fulfilling the business needs of a project. 

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But, of course, the technical skills are also a crucial part of the process as graduate Doug Chubb can attest. Doug is now an Independent Rotoscope Artist Contractor to Weta Digital, New Zealand’s world-renowned visual effects company.

“Because of the highly practical element of the course I was given more than enough opportunity to put into practice newly learned skills on real projects,” he says.

“Our aim is to give them as much experience and information as we can so that they can make informed choices about where their passion lies,” says Ms Cooper.  Much of that information comes from the tutors themselves, all of whom have industry experience.

“The fact that [the tutors], had backgrounds in the film industry meant they were able to give me relevant and informed advice on my career choices,” says Mr Chubb.

As well as its longer diploma courses, the school offers a number of short courses, enabling students to learn specific programmes, brush up on their skills or undertake professional development that fits around work.