First Hand — 12 months out of uni, Brighton graduate George Hatton talks misconceptions and moving to New York
Graphic Design graduate George Hatton swapped the beaches of Brighton for the bright lights of New York last year, where he is currently working at global design consultancy 2x4. George recounts how he made the move to the big apple and what he’s learned in the process.
Reflecting on my studies now, I wish I’d allowed myself more time to experiment and let ideas and self-initiated projects grow organically, rather than trying to plan the final piece in advance. If I’m being completely honest I don’t think my graduate show helped in building my next steps, but it was a really good experience, and more than anything, a great way to celebrate the end of our three years together.
Taking time out
Straight after graduation I took a few months out. Firstly to have a break, but more importantly to put my portfolio, résumé and website together. Following on from this short break I applied to 2x4 studio, based in New York, where I have now been working since January.
Being selective pays off
I’d been a big fan of 2x4 since discovering their work during my first year, and knew that I wanted to try and work for the studio at some point. I quickly learnt that you shouldn’t mass-email every studio that you know; it’s much more beneficial to select the studios whose work you really like and that you want to work for, and then take your time in writing to them specifically. Select what projects you show in your portfolio depending on which studios you are applying for.
New York, new life
I had always planned to try and work in the States upon graduating. Living somewhere new and with a different culture is something that had always interested me, as well as various studios that really appealed to me. The process did take some time and a fair bit of organising, but moving was surprisingly easier than I thought. I found a place before moving out and settled in right away once getting here. The visa process took a bit of understanding but was relatively smooth thanks to my sponsor and the studio being very fast.
“In reality, the design world is actually much smaller than I imagined. It’s surprising how connected everyone is.”
Picking up the (work) pace
Being in New York, the biggest challenge has been the intensity of the work and pace of life in comparison to when I was studying at Brighton. You have a lot less time and need to get things done much quicker, which I think is a really important skill to learn and have. But it’s been great; intense at times but in a good way. I’m constantly learning new things; a lot of which you can’t – and don’t – get taught whilst studying at university. For example, working with big clients and fast-moving deadlines, the production process, meetings and time scheduling. Basically getting a real insight and learning how the design industry actually works.
Planning and budgeting rule
Financially I’ve been fine but this has been purely down to budgeting my money well, otherwise it would be really difficult being in New York where most expenses are super-high. After graduating I managed to get some money behind me, which helped a lot with the visa and the move to New York. I guess it’s common sense, obviously depending on how much you’re earning, but if you’re interning you really have to be careful with budgeting and keeping track of what you have – and definitely don’t go spending what you don’t have.
The design world is interconnected
I didn’t have any first-hand help in getting a position at 2x4, because I personally didn’t know anyone connected to the studio or, for that case, even in New York. But networking and social media definitely helped a lot in finding contacts, and seeing who’s connected with who. It helped me to collect the information I needed to be applying to the studios that I really liked. I thought the design world was so much bigger, and in a way, pretty intimidating. But in reality it’s actually much smaller than I imagined. It’s surprising how connected everyone is.
Follow George on Instagram.
From internships to launching startups and everything in between, we’re looking to showcase a variety of experiences across the creative industries. So whether you’re a recent graduate or creative with a lesson learned or story to share from your first 12 months, get in touch at [email protected]