Creative Lives — Barbican multimedia designer Claudia Toia on mastering multiple disciplines

Posted 24 January 2019 Interview by Indi Davies

Flexibility is at the core of Claudia Toia’s role at the Barbican. A multimedia designer within the centre’s in-house design team, Claudia creates digital assets for an eclectic mix of plays, concerts, major exhibitions, talks and screenings. “Covering so many different art forms is very exciting,” she tells us. But with such a fast-moving programme comes the ability to utilise a broad skill set – from graphics to code and video. Here, she tells us about keeping up with digital developments, and why emerging creatives should feel confident in asking for feedback from those in industry.

Claudia Toia

Job Title

Multimedia Designer (Digital), Barbican Centre (2017–current)

Previous Employment

Community Manager (Marketing), Penguin Books (2014–2016)

Place of Study

BA English Literature, UCL (2010–2013)

Social Media

Claudia with the design team

How would you describe your job?
My job revolves around creating visual marketing materials for the events happening in the centre. I work with the wider marketing team and with my print colleagues to make sure the design meets the brief, and is consistent across the different parts of a campaign.

How did you land your current job?
In my previous marketing job at Penguin Books, I focused on creative projects which used the latest web technologies. I worked closely with a creative technologist and a book cover designer, who were patient enough to teach me hands-on tech and design skills.

I was very lucky to have the opportunity to learn on the job, play with photography, code, design, video and graphics. This way I became familiar not just with the principles of design but with the wider digital landscape too. I think this multidisciplinary approach gave me an edge over the other candidates and helped me make the transition to my current creative role.

Work for Penguin Books

Do you run any side projects alongside your job?
There are so many different pathways in design, which means there’s always something new to explore. I spend my free time learning about new software and playing with technologies that I don’t get to use in my job.

What do you enjoy most about working on the Barbican design team?
Covering so many different art forms is very exciting. On any given day I could be working on anything from a short animation to promote the latest art gallery exhibition, to a trailer edit for a contemporary dance show. Having access to so much great culture is a great way to introduce fresh ideas into my everyday work. As a team, we also organise weekly skill-share sessions, which is a very fun way of learning on the job and keeping abreast of the latest digital developments.

Design for a theatre show part of Barbican Centre's The Art of Change season in 2018

What tools do you use most for your work?
For my design work I mostly use Photoshop, After Effects and Premiere Pro. For coding, I usually need Atom, GitHub and Netlify for proofing.

What advice would you give to a young creative wanting to do the same kind of work?
Digital creatives usually have a broad skill set, so it’s important to have a strong portfolio that proves you feel comfortable jumping from code to video to graphics.

Don’t feel scared of contacting other people in the industry for feedback, as most are happy to set aside time for a coffee or a quick call. Also, companies usually have a roster of freelancers, so emailing around and asking to be added to the list can be a way to get your work in front of the right people.

The Barbican design team at work

Inside the Barbican complex

Posted 24 January 2019 Interview by Indi Davies
Collection: Creative Lives
Disciplines: Graphic Design
Mentions: Claudia Toia, Barbican, Penguin Random House

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