Graduate Stories: Megan Stokes
Today’s Graduate Story features Megan Stokes, a former illustrations student. Megan talks us through her journey from graduation to her current internship at Theatr Clwyd.
I graduated from Glyndwr University last year with a degree in Illustration specialising in Children’s books. I chose to study at Glyndwr because the illustration course specifically prepared us to be freelance by teaching in-depth business skills so we could understand contracts, finances and taxes.
As part of my final year, we worked on aspects of setting up a business like making a website, making business cards, setting up a professional social media presence. Throughout my third year, I debated whether being a freelance illustrator was for me. I loved the idea of illustrating for a living, but I wasn’t sure whether I’d like working from home and the stress of an unstable income. So, I decided to look into other creative career paths.
A big help in deciding what sort of job I would like was attending Creative Futures. This is an annual week-long conference at Glyndwr University where you listen to lectures, talks and workshops from people in the industry. From attending 3 years in a row, I was starting to learn that there are so many paths I could take, and I didn’t want to limit myself into one thing.
Creative Futures is where I learned about the Creative Internship programme from Arts and Business Cymru. This is a 10-month paid internship where you are placed in an arts organisation to learn all about fundraising. I loved that it had creative elements as well as being a career I thought I could be good at. I applied in May of my final year and kept my finger’s crossed!
In June, I and my fellow students attended New Designers which is a national exhibition in London to showcase your design portfolio to people in the industry alongside other creative graduates. It was an overwhelming but exciting experience. It showed me how much of a small fish I was in a big pond. Although there was so much competition, it was a supportive environment that felt like a community of creatives ready to take on the world! 10 graduates got talent spotted from Sainsbury’s home and I was lucky enough to be chosen! I was really excited, and it felt like my hard work had paid off. New Designers led to job interviews and illustration commissions so for me, it was well worth it!
Returning home from that crazy experience, I was offered the internship place with Arts and Business. I obviously accepted, and I now work full time as a Development Intern at Theatr Clwyd. My role ranges from organising an event, looking after membership and developing relationships. I love working in a creative environment and fundraising to ensure the local community can continue to experience the arts. But I haven’t stopped illustrating! Since starting my job in October, I have illustrated a children’s book, sold work at craft fairs and recently finished a commission for Scouts. I feel like I have the best of both worlds.
My advice to someone currently studying at University, particularly in the creative arts, is to be open. Don’t pigeon hole yourself into one path. The more open you are, the more opportunities will come your way.
You can find out what I’m up to on my internship programme here http://www.aandbcymru.org.uk/blog-201819/
Click here to see all of Megan’s latest illustration work.