Bryony Spooner
Tell us a bit about yourself
My name is Bryony, I’m currently in my third year of my Graphic Design course at Edinburgh Napier.Edinburgh Napier University student Bryony Spooner

I am currently living in Marchmont, Edinburgh, with my boyfriend and flatmates and I work part time at the National Museum of Scotland. I love yoga and cooking, and having a good drink in a beer garden!

What was the opportunity you were involved with?
I applied for multiple placements and was accepted by the Scottish Design Exchange in December 2020. The placement began as a 20 credit module (one day a week) but increased to 40 credits with the work load that accumulated.
What did your role entail?

The Scottish Design Exchange set us the task of making our own product to sell in their shop. It was a solo project and a very self-directed role, and the SDX arranged catch up/ advice calls, but primarily the placement and making of the product was up to me. I decided to write, illustrate, edit, design, fund and promote a magazine aimed at students, called Student Survival Guide.

What key skills did your placement teach you?

Placement has taught me so many valuable skills - mainly people skills and reaching out to people in different professions to help me make this magazine. It really trains you to adapt a self-directive mind set because there isn’t anyone checking on you to see if you’ve been keeping up, it’s up to you.

It has also been valuable in advancing my graphic design and writing skills as making a whole magazine solo is quite a task. Placement really teaches you how to get back to work off your own accord and get contacts, results, how to deal with rejection, and how to get into a more business-like mindset.  A small part of the placement has been the actual design of the magazine. The majority of it so far has been contacting people, arranging printing, promotion, contributors, funding, etc.

Highlights of your time on placement?

My personal highlight was the creative freedom of the whole placement. The brief was very simple and open to interpretation. You could design whatever you wanted, and then the SDX support you and sell it in the shop. It was such a treat to be able to have the reigns on my own project. It wasn’t an academic instruction or a request from a client or lecturer- it was purely my imagination and style. It was very liberating and exciting to have a whole magazine to myself and to be able to develop my style. 

Any challenges faced?

Lots. During this placement I have been at times overwhelmed by my own decision to make an entire magazine on my own and have had to deal with people saying no or just not responding to me at all in relation to sponsorship/printing or help in general. It has been hard to find motivation at times as well, particularly in a lockdown and without being surrounded by fellow designers, like I am used to in class. It has been tough to get through some creative blocks, but they normally sorted themselves out.

How did your studies at Edinburgh Napier University prepare you for this placement?

The course itself in graphic design really helped me prior to the creation of the magazine. In the last few semesters, we had focussed on editorial design which I personally love and it gave me lots of background knowledge and preparation prior to making it on my own.

Has the placement affected your future career plans? If so, in what way?

Placement has inspired me to engage with the local creative industry more, because at the end of the day, it’s about who you know. The connections I’ve made with various people over the past few months have been invaluable and I’m sure in the near future I will be in touch with the people I’ve met.
It has also sparked more of my passion into editorial design. I’ve really enjoyed making the magazine and I hope to do more editorial work in the future.

Would you recommend doing a placement to others? If so, why?

I would highly recommend doing placement. It gives you a taste of the real world and how to communicate and branch out to people. It’s also great practice to get some insight into the business side of things. For example, I made a sponsorship proposal and I think the best thing is really learning how to better your own work ethic. The more you put into the placement, the more results you get. It was as simple as that.

What advice would you give to anyone considering doing a placement at university?

I’d say do it! Make sure you like the look of the company, charity, or agency you’ll be working for and don’t be shy to ask more about the placement before you agree to it. It will be 100 times better if you sign up for a placement that means something to you or is engaging in something you are passionate about.