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Joana Pinto painting design at Cambridge Folk Festival

BA (Hons) Illustration and Animation student Joana submitted her CV and portfolio to Oblique Arts for a volunteer position with the Cambridge Folk Festival, but they wanted to use her skills on other projects as well. She soon discovered that working outside of her comfort zone expanded the possibilities for her career.

“The placement required me to produce work in areas I’d like to have a career in, as well as areas I had never thought of working in: specifically, art installation and furniture decorating. My experience over the summer was quite close to that of a freelance artist: each time, I was given a brief and would sketch or otherwise plan out my take on it before discussing my plan with the client. With their approval, I would move on to create the final product, all the while taking in requests, advice and criticism from the charity executives.

“Overall, my experience was focused on the development and production of artwork. More often than not, it was up to me to decide on the visuals of the animation or installation. I was expected to provide a video that would illustrate audio interviews of Roma people sharing family stories using their family photos. Meanwhile, with the Folk Festival furniture decoration, I was given a theme and the ‘look’ to aim for. Another project, for Sugar Smart, required me only to animate the movement of characters and objects, rather than have a say in the design.

“Because animation production and pre-production are my focus as career choices, this was a great opportunity to learn new techniques in an environment that allowed me to make mistakes and gave me enough time and space to overcome obstacles on my own. It was a chance to test my knowledge in a professional setting and think creatively to overcome obstacles when my knowledge did not seem to be enough. I became more confident not only in what I know, but also in my ability to learn and be creative enough to achieve objectives by thinking outside the box.

“As for the projects that were unrelated to my career plans, they made me realise my potential outside of the career branch I had thought of as my only choice. I believe that, after this placement, I will think twice before declining an opportunity to work in a creative project that seems outside of my interests. I am now willing and interested to expand my work in the near future - not so much in a completely different area, but perhaps by working with storytelling and design in comics or graphic novels, rather than just animation and illustration.

“My current aspirations are now rooted with more confidence and certainty of what I want to do with my career and how I want to work. This shows in how, upon arriving back at university, I now carry myself and my work differently: I feel more at ease when dealing with new projects; I manage my time even more effectively; and I find it easier to look at a project from more interesting angles. This confidence made me realise that, before the placement, I felt so nervous with the thought of taking a step outside of university life. Even though I went through difficult situations at Oblique Arts, I feel the experience has truly prepared me to begin my journey outside of ARU.

“My advice to other students would be to take any opportunity they can to find a placement over the summer because, especially in the creative industries, placements are hard to come by. Accepting a position that isn’t exactly what you want to do can be incredibly beneficial in realising abilities outside of your comfort zone.”