Archive for February, 2009

Setting Yourself Apart from the Crowd

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

set apart from crowd

Are you in the final stages of your degree? Wondering what step to take next? Should you go straight into a job or further your studies? I chose the latter and little over a month ago I completed a Masters in Multi-Disciplinary Design at the University of Ulster, Belfast. Hopefully some of my thoughts about it will help you make a decision.

The MA Multidisciplinary Design responds to continuing changes in contemporary design practice and challenges the perceived boundaries between the many and varied recognised art and design disciplines.

The programme seeks to establish an environment where creative, self-motivated practitioners from a diverse array of design backgrounds, with different methodologies, can experience a cross-fertilisation of ideas and approaches to the design process.

Web, fashion, print, product and textile designers (along with a variety of other creatives) come together in a challenging environment, allowing a totally original style of working to evolve.  Coming from Interactive Multimedia Design at Jordanstown, we primarily worked in an online design environment, along with around 80 other web designers.  There was little interaction with creatives from other disciplines, which left us in a world of our own.

With competition for jobs pretty high in the web sector at present, I felt it was important to set myself apart from the other IMD graduates.  I also wanted to explore other areas of creativity, while broadening my design skills.  The MA in Multi-Disciplinary Design offered me all of these and therefore seemed like the obvious choice.

masters paddy donnelly


The course runs for a year and a half (3 semesters). The first two semesters consist of 3 modules and the final semester is devoted to your Masters project. The content within each module varies, ranging from creative entrepreneurship to design thinking, giving you a wide array of topics to tickle your creative muscles.

The Work

The structure of the MA leaves your choice of research topic wide open.  While there is constant guidance and advice from the lecturers, you are pretty much able to study anything you want, which is refreshing and daunting at the same time. I chose to research viral marketing, social media and Internet culture over the year and a half, in an effort to understand the web better and create a name for myself.

The Big Word Project is one of the projects created by myself and Lee Munroe in an effort to promote ourselves and research each of our chosen subjects. The project allows you to purchase a word from our list for $1 per letter to represent your site. Your site will then represent this word in our list and when people click on it, they will be taken to your site. The site received huge publicity around the net, including being featured in WIRED magazine!

Great Points

The Masters has a ton of advantages for anybody wanting to further their education and get a step up in this economic downturn. Some of these benefits include:

  • Improved presentation skills
  • Networking opportunities
  • Increased self confidence
  • Multi-Discipline environment
  • Enhanced research skills
  • Access to experienced knowledge base
  • Advanced writing practice
  • Entrepreneurial advice
  • Expert guidance
  • Masterclasses

Not so Great Points

There aren’t that many bad things I could say about the Masters, however I should point out a few issues that affected me:

  • It’s not cheap, around £3,200
  • Not having strict guidelines can make you feel lost in the beginning
  • Can be a difficult transition from a multimedia background to a more artistic environment

I got a Job!

And what was the point in all this? To get a job of course! And, well, it worked! I started work as a Creative Strategist for Belgian company Nascom two weeks after the MA ended, and I’m loving it! You can read more about my first week at the Nascom blog.

The MA got me this job in a couple of ways. The first reason was my research into social media, which gave me the skills to join the Nascom ‘Tactics Squad’. The second reason the MA got me the job is because I met Steven Verbruggen as part of The Big Word Project and he in turn got my foot in the door with Nascom. It just shows that you should seize every opportunity and network like crazy! You never know what could happen, you could end up in Belgium!

Want to know more?

For another point of view on the Masters, check out Lee Munroe’s post. You can download some information on the Masters. Any questions you have about the MA, don’t be afraid to email me or Chris Murphy (Course Director).

Notes from a Nascom Noob

Friday, February 20th, 2009

Original post available here.

notes from a nascom noob

I survived my first week at Nascom! I’m currently halfway through my second and the leprechaun jokes haven’t been too bad so far. [I’ll bet my inbox will be full of them after this post].

In case you don’t know me. I’m Paddy, the latest member of Nascom. Number 68 to be precise. I now have the pleasure of telling people that I’m a ‘Creative Strategist’, and the latest addition to the Tactic’s Squad.

I wanted to write a blog post about my first experiences at Nascom, giving the public an insight to the company, while also letting the other folks here know who I am. So perhaps a bit about me first?

I’m Irish for a start, as you can probably tell from my pasty ‘gets one week of sun a year’ skin. I come from the green place above, and my real name is actually Paddy, it’s not made up! I’m a web designer and blogger with a fondness for illustration. I completed a Masters in Multi-Disciplinary Design about a month ago and my degree was in Interactive Multimedia Design before that. I studied social media and internet culture for my Masters, pretty much living on the Internet 24/7. I hope it hasn’t harmed my social skills, hmm, I’ll Google it and check.

Most of the stuff I’ve done you can find at my blog but the most successful projects would be my Twitter Interview Series, Web 2.0rigami and The Big Word Project.

If I said I moved to Belgium solely for Nascom I’d be lying. I fell for a Belgian lady so that’s why I’ve given up the land of green where rivers flow with Guinness. Oh and I like peanuts and the Stereophonics.

So that’s pretty much it about me, now to talk about my first experiences with Nascom. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin. :)

Well actually I should begin just before the beginning. I started working here on Monday 9th February but planned to come in on Friday the 6th to say hi. Unfortunately nobody told me that Nascom hadn’t moved to the new office yet so that’s where I turned up to say hi… to some construction workers. Brilliant. Lucky it didn’t happen on my first day, that would have been embarrassing, although I have just told the Internet. D’oh.

So I finally made it to the right office [above] and spent one week here as the company was preparing to move to its new location [below]. I was amazed by the decoration of the office. It’s one of those cool, quirky, creative, geeky offices every web designer dreams of working in!

There’s a great sense of community here at Nascom and everyone gets on really well with each other. Within minutes of starting my first day there was pie and nerf gun fights along with a strange obsession for Benny Lava.

I must say I have watched the video about 40 times already so sign me up for the cult.

My first week was great fun. I got to work on some exciting projects, had some fun brainstorming sessions and met most of the other people here, who have really made me feel welcome. I will have to throw a house warming party, as soon as I get some furniture. By the way, when do I get my red hoodie? ;)

Just after I had got settled in one office, we moved to the extremely spacious new one at C-Mine, Genk. I wonder where we will move to next week?  The new location is brilliant, really modern with some interesting decor planned for the next month. But just check out my funky retro chair!

Advantages to being the non-dutch speaking foreigner at work?  I get out of answering the phone, at least until my dutch improves from just obscure and useless words like ‘ontstopper’.

Well I’ve had a great time so far, so I think I’ll stick around. If you want to come work here there are a number of other positions available at the minute so apply if you want to come have some fun here too!

If you want to see what Nascom are up to or find out more about the people here I would recommend following @NascomHQ on Twitter and checking out their friends. Anybody I don’t know yet can get me on Twitter @Paddydonnelly too.

I’m a Nice Person!

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

I have been featured as the latest Nice Person on We Are Just Creative!

we are just creative

WAJC is a great site, and one that I frequently visit, where insightful articles are written by creative individuals on various design topics.  It has been created by talented graphic designer Graham Smith from I’m Just Creative. If you are at all interested in the design world I would recommend you follow Graham on Twitter for some a great insight.

WeAreJustCreative is an audio & visual community magazine. Simply, you can submit anything that you have designed, coded, composed, directed, developed or written, sketched or jotted. This includes computers, digital art, real life art, photos of pottery, paintings and sculptures, clothing, lego. Anything creative.

nice person paddy donnelly

Who says nice guys finish last? :)

Coca Cola Heist

Friday, February 6th, 2009

Great Superbowl ad from Coca Cola.

Photo Magnets for the Photoshoppers

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

magnet photoshop

I always find myself wanting to stick more stuff on the walls in front of my computer to inspire and motivate me.  Coming from working in a studio with fashion, textile and print designers I always felt jealous that their office space felt ‘artier’ than mine.

Perhaps these geekily designed magnets in the shape of Photoshop and Illustrator toolbars will help?

magnet photoshop

photoshop magnet

illustrator magnet