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Creativity pays: turn your passion into your profession

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Back in January 2021, the Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries kicked off the year with an online conference about creative careers. It was the perfect time to remind ourselves that you can absolutely have a career in the creative industriesartists and other creative professionals don’t need to retrain in a new area to be successful.

Attendees were treated to an exciting agenda, including a presentation about the importance of the creative industries, how our current students found studying during the coronavirus pandemic and how by exploring ideas and subjects that you are passionate about, you can carve out your own creative degree.  

There was also a student and graduate panel, in which attendees were joined by BA (Hons) Film and Media graduate, Aaron Day, Lily Daniels, who graduated from BA (Hons) Artist Designer Maker: Glass and Ceramics in 2012, and Afsina Begum, who was studying BA (Hons) Graphic Design at the time of the conference.

Student and graduate panel 

A creative degree offers many transferable skills and can often lead to unexpected diverse career routes. Lily, who is now working in engagement within arts and heritage, has worked in a number of different roles, including for the National Glass Centre in Sunderland, Milton Keynes Art Centre, Volks Electric Railway and also has a creative practice as a facilitator and illustrator. She got involved in a range of extracurricular activities while she was at university, including being a Student Rep for her course, coordinating two end of year shows and volunteering at the National Glass Centre as a facilitator. 

Afsina is passionate about Graphic Design and has taken advantage of the wealth of opportunities her course and the University has offered her. Among other things, Afsina has been on various panels, including Virgin Money Foundation and Cultural Spring, giving her input on the kinds of projects that would bring communities together. She also loves visiting exhibitions, as well as planning her own.  

Aaron chose to stay at the University after graduating to study a masters degree in film and cultural studies. While he was studying, he was given the opportunity to teach undergraduate students, and it was this opportunity that made him realise he was interested in becoming a teacher and could adapt the skills he’d learned on both his creative degrees, using them to change career direction. During his time as a teacher and lecturer, Aaron has worked with the BBC, ITV and the British Film Institute on a variety of creative projects, encouraging young people to express themselves and discover the world through the lens of a camera.  

Other success stories 

While you’re here, if hearing from AaronLily and Afsina wasn’t enough, how about learning more about our graduates from the Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries? 

Ross Phillips graduated from BA (Hons) Animation and Games Art (at the time, the degree was called Animation and Games Design) at the height of the 2008 global recession. Ross admitted that getting a job after graduation was hard; the financial crash affected job prospects in a number of sectors and he struggled to find work in an area he enjoyed. While working in an apprentice digital media role, he began to do some freelance animation projects, which led to production company Studio AKA getting in touch. Ross now works as designer for Studio AKA, mainly working on the popular children’s animated series, ‘Hey Duggee’.  

BA (Hons) Fashion Journalism graduate, Doriane Lescouet, works as a stylist for activewear and accessories brand, Gymshark where she styles new product campaigns as well as imagery for the e-commerce website and App.  

Matty Zielinski is now working in London on a range of TV shows, after gaining experience as a runner for the production company behind Geordie Shore. By studying BA (Hons) Media Production, he was able to take advantage of his lecturers contacts, giving his career a head start.  
And Yahya Amoi has focused on his career as a recording artist and actor/performer since graduating from BA (Hons) Performing Arts. As part of a music duo, Yahya has released two music videos and singles on YouTube and all major streaming platforms. He also signed to an agent shortly after graduating, giving him the opportunity to progress in the musical theatre and acting world. 


Back to the conference, for the final session attendees were offered the chance to join a breakout room with academics from the area they were interested in. Here, they had the opportunity to find out more about university life, studying at Sunderland, the course they wanted to study and the careers that course would lead to. Attendees could join multiple breakout rooms if they were interested in more than one area, which was a great introduction to the cross-collaboration that happens between courses in the Faculty. Staff reported that this session was an excellent way of meeting potential new students and sharing creative ideas together 

Join us 

Like the sound of the Creative Careers Conference? We offer a whole range of events for schools and individuals to book onto, to give you a taster of what it’s like to study at the University of Sunderland. For more information, contact student.recruitment@sunderland.ac.uk  

Join us at our next Open Day, to find out more about studying at the University of Sunderland.  

Published: 7 March 2022