Jason Richards is a Foundation Certificate and a BFA Graphic Design graduate who now works in London as the Boys Print Designer for high-end fashion label Stella McCartney, with responsibility for the vision, style and artworking of the boys collection (ages 2-16).
While a student at Whitecliffe, Jason was as an in-house designer for two years and had three internships- Bantam NZ, Scizzorface and Stolen Girlfriends Club. “Each one exposed me to different skills and experiences so by the time I graduated I had clocked enough real-world experience that I wasn't intimidated to take on certain roles.“
Then within just one year of graduating with his BFA he had moved to New York and was working as a graphic and print designer for the fashion label Opening Ceremony, specialising in textiles, graphics, illustration and branding projects for the collection.
We spoke with Jason in London about the value of the Foundation Certificate and how it was the platform for his career.
• What were you doing before you decided to enrol in the Foundation Certificate?
I was working my third retail job since leaving high school and although it was managerial, I felt like I had hit a wall. Four years out, I had just turned 21, and I felt like I had achieved nothing. I knew I wanted to study graphics or fashion but I avoided it because it intimidated and scared that I wasn't good enough or I was going to fail.
• What attracted you to try the Foundation programme?
It felt less daunting entering an 18-week course. If I weren't to enjoy it or do well, I knew I hadn't wasted much time and could move onto the next idea. I also liked that there was such a diverse range of topics and classes.
• What evolved for you during those 18 weeks that led you to continue onto the BFA?
I always wanted to be good enough to study at a degree level. After the first term of the certificate and receiving my grades and feedback, that's when I realised I was capable of that. And besides, 18 weeks simply wasn't long enough for me to express all these ideas that had started to simmer in my mind. As a student that entered set on majoring in fashion, I actually discovered a love for painting, drawing and mixed-media. I was really surprised how much I enjoyed getting hands on. If I had skipped the foundation course and jumped straight into my degree, I think I would have led myself down the wrong track. I needed this warm up to discover what I was capable of and what I enjoyed without the amount of stress and commitment of the Bachelor.
• What would you say to someone in the same place as you before you started at Whitecliffe?
Take the leap! Or better yet, ease yourself in – that's what the Certificate is all about. It's like using the ladder to get into the pool. It's never too late to get started. No matter what age you might be. If anything, age benefits your study. You have more drive and you're there because you want to be. You chose to be.
• Why did you choose Graphic Design?
I knew I wanted to work in fashion but didn't want to construct clothes. I chose Graphic Design as it would allow me a lot of room to move around within the industry – I could be working in print for a fashion magazine or in product development for a collection - I knew the options would be endless.”
Jason feels that Whitecliffe is well-respected by the New Zealand design community and credits the Whitecliffe Graphic Design faculty as playing a “a huge role’ in his success. “I learnt technical skills but most importantly Whitecliffe developed my creative thinking which shaped the way I approach design in my practice. The lecturers were personable, relatable and practicing themselves which always made it easy to trust their advice and feedback. It wasn’t just my education at Whitecliffe but the spirit and community that was so valuable. My experience there was amazing, I would relive it in a heartbeat.”