Creative director of Underwired.com
Jason Holland studied the First Diploma in Art and Design from 1989-90 followed by the two-year HND Graphic Design at what is now the college’s BAY6 centre just outside Mansfield’s town centre.
Jason is now the creative director of Underwired.com - a leader in web-based customer relations management and credited as being one of the world's top 10 most influential websites. He works with clients such as Virgin, McCain, Bupa and Sony.
Jason recalls his time at West Nottinghamshire College and his introduction to the world of art and design.
Life at college was all about self-motivation. I was trying to support myself, living on my own in a bed-sit in Mansfield as well as studying. There were plenty of distractions but the college helped me set clear goals which kept me on target.
I got a great overall view of all of the art and design disciplines on the First Diploma. I remember the course leaders for graphic design and industrial design were both trying to persuade me to join their diplomas, but as much as 3D design looked exciting, the graphic side was something I was already enjoying.
As my National Diploma in Graphic Design was in the early 90's, I got a deep insight into the 'craft' of typography as I had to make the text using Bromides, Letraset and even hand-drawing some of it too. An Apple Mac appeared in the second year which re-ignited my passion for computers, ultimately leading to the merger of the two in Interactive Design (or multimedia as it was then called).
Jason remembers the many technical aspects to his course and the alternative ways of learning about art and design.
Learning to draw 12pt Serif-font text with a Rotring pen taught me extreme discipline and patience. This was a few months before the first Mac came into the graphic design studio which started the merger of my love for all things tech, gadgets, and my passion for design.
I remember being in a life drawing session with my tutor Julian Bray and half-way through the morning Julian handed me a drawing he had done of me sketching. Its simplicity in form but expressive line crafting was a catalyst in making sure my journey into the world of pixels also had a 'real world' subtext, influenced my digital creations.
A great example of this was when I shot a few rounds of film at a college fashion show. One of the film canisters fell onto the floor and the cap on the end came off, exposing the film inside to light briefly before I stuffed it inside my jacket. I developed it anyway, and the beautiful way the light spilled into the imagery was a unique element, just like a sketch. Years later I scanned in the contact sheet from this film and used it in a website design - it got in the Design and Art Direction Annual. It's taught me to always look for non-digital source where appropriate.
After studying at the college Jason went on to study a BA (Hons) Degree in Graphic Design at The University of Northumbria at Newcastle, graduating in 1997. It was through his final project that he made links with his first employers.
For my final project at university I made the UK's first CD ROM of design graduate portfolios. This was noticed by Creative Review magazine and put on their cover mounted disc. D&AD saw this and invited me to show my CD ROM at their Student Expo (where nowadays I do portfolio surgeries and student mentoring).
The Mac I showed my interactive piece on was borrowed from a company called Hyperinteractive, who were doing the touch-screen kiosks for the 'grown up' D&AD show. When the computer went back to them in a cab I joined it with my portfolio in hand and got a job, for less money than I could even live on. I moved to London two weeks later.
I became Hyperinteractive’s Digital Designer (with some coding thrown in). This is where I met my current business partner, Felix Velarde.
Jason believes his college education was more than just learning a vocational skill.
It gave me the foundation and preparation for what I then learnt in a job. It also taught me how to deal with a variety of characters and personalities - this has nothing to do with design, but ended up being an essential skill in my job and as a founder member of the two agencies I have owned.
West Notts College has changed over the years, but Jason still takes the opportunity to visit. He now shares his knowledge and background with multimedia students in the college’s new Create building.
The college is quite different to when I studied there. The building I studied Graphic Design in doesn't even exist anymore! In recent years I have returned to do some half-day lectures and seen a space to work that is heavenly, inspirational and I’ve met some great students who I’ve kept in touch with.
Also, with lecturers like the extremely passionate Lee Hazeldine injecting their knowledge and giving guidance, I feel that the college is continuing to grow and improve from already high standards.