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#CEawards16: Paula Caffrey winners interview

After graduating from DJCAD in 2015 with a first class honours degree in illustration I thought getting a job in design would be the typical next step. After a year in the real world with numerous interviews and no paid work other than the occasional freelance job, reality hit hard. Employers wanted graphic designers, not illustrators, and as an illustrator, freelancing wasn't earning me a living, and even with my design skills I wasn’t getting hired for graphics positions. However, I received a print futures award in the summer of 2016 which gave me the funds to pay for a year long full time course in interactive design at Edinburgh College. I realised if I was going to get anywhere in todays modern design world, where everything is about online experiences, then I would need the digital and web skills to support me and diversify my portfolio. Luckily, I love learning and I am enthusiastic about all areas of design, so this course has been nothing but an enjoyable way to spend my time.

Once I received the call from Janine Matheson to tell me I had been shortlisted in the student category for the Creative Edinburgh Award I was extremely surprised and happy. Most of all I was grateful to have been considered a contender for this award for my work, specifically my book “Pronouncing Poland” which teaches english speakers how to pronounce the Polish language through illustrative storytelling and a phonetic-like system. Being shortlisted was incredibly exciting as being alongside such brilliant professionals and creative organisations made me feel part of something really great. To then win the award gave me a massive boost of confidence and has given me a lot of hope for my future in the creative industries. I feel really honoured to have been acknowledged and recognised for my talent by Creative Edinburgh. “Pronouncing Poland” has received a lot of attention since winning the award and I have been overwhelmed by the amount of people wanting to buy the book. My focus since the awards has been on trying to find a publisher who would be interested in taking on the project, or funding to help me self publish, so that I can finally share this book with the people who want it. The winning work will hopefully in the future develop into a series of books with different target languages. I have also begun work on a new project which aims to revitalise the Irish language through print and interactive mediums.

As 2017 approaches my thoughts have turned quickly to how I'm going to reinvent my life when I finish my course. I have plans to do a placement at the start of the new year and the idea of securing a paid internship in a creative agency in the summer is one which I hope I will get the opportunity to do. I have been collaborating with graphic designer 27graphique on a few projects for different contemporary and early music groups and we are both invested in progressing this partnership. My focus is on making steps towards developing this freelance work into a small (not for profit) startup business. I think Edinburgh is so receptive to art in general and there is definitely room for an interdisciplinary design studio in the creative hub of Edinburgh that meets the needs of charity organisations and other non profit organisations unable to afford the art direction they need.

Follow Paula's work here.

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