Your time at Edinburgh College of Art
I chose Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) for its open curriculum for the Masters programme and excellent studio facilities. Staying at one of the University’s postgraduate accommodations was a wonderful experience as I got to meet students from different schools and colleges within the university. I had a lot more exposure to the diverse student body this way and formed close friendships with people from across the globe studying vastly different things.
During Innovative Learning Week in 2013, I worked as a student photographer and covered several events around the various university campuses. Having been asked to cover events at the Kings Buildings forced me to explore parts of the city I would never have done on my own. That short week also lead to me being asked to assist a professional photographer to take pictures for student bursaries. Again, this lead to me exploring the Medical School, the Easter Bush Campus, and see the Vet school as well the GeoSciences Building. Being open to opportunities to work with people across the University and collaborate made my overall experience as a postgraduate student much richer than if I had just stayed within the limits of ECA.
My most notable experience during my time at ECA was curating and participating in an exhibition in collaboration with the Central Library of Edinburgh titled Central Inspiration. It gave me an opportunity to work in tandem with other MA/MFA Graphic Design and Illustration students, and members of the Edinburgh City council. For art and design students, Edinburgh offers limitless opportunities for collaborations outside of studies and such opportunities were what lead me to make future career.
Tell us about your experiences since leaving the University
Following graduation, I worked as the Assistant Head of Programme for the BA (Hons) Graphic Design course at the Academy of Design, a design school in Colombo, Sri Lanka, which is a partner institute of Northumbria University, Newcastle. In addition to being a full time lecturer, I worked closely with the management and Programme Head to plan and teach the course.
Personally, I’m interested in using visual communication design as a tool to initiate social and cultural dialogue; and thanks to working with the diverse groups of people while in Edinburgh, I had the confidence and understanding of varied cultural contexts to curate exhibitions in collaboration with diplomatic missions in Colombo and connect with a diverse audience.
During 2016 I conceptualised and curated an exhibition exploring migration with the Italian Embassy in Colombo as part of Italian Week in Sri Lanka. The exhibition titled Migration Stories aimed to question the negative perception of the word “migrant” that has been established at the moment and break the perceived stereotype of migrants. Later that year as Special Events Planner, I worked was the Lead Designer and Art Director for Mercedes-Benz fashion runways in Sri Lanka.
In September 2017, I returned to Edinburgh to start my first year of PhD Design research at ECA, alongside my studies I am a part-time tutor at the University's Centre for Open Learning.
Alumni wisdom and graduate advice
Be open to all the opportunities that the University has to offer, whether it's facilities, societies, or events. It’s easy to get comfortable in our own niche groups, but the diversity at the university is something to be embraced and celebrated.
- By the time you start getting used to being a graduate student, your one-year postgraduate programme will be over. So it's important to have an idea of what you want to do after graduating early on so you don't panic after you finish. Your plans will probably change but you don't want to start out as a clueless graduate.
- When talking to people, whether it is professional collaborators or employees. I've found that it's good to have a balance of confidence and humility. So if I don't know something, I always admit to not knowing but assure them of my ability to learn quickly on the job.
- Finally, try to work on things you truly care about. Passion is palpable.
An earlier version of this profile appeared on the University of Edinburgh alumni site in June 2016