Will Hudson was the first speaker of the CASS Making a Living program which ran lectures and workshops focused on how to make your mark on your industry of choice.
Will opened with a story of how he had to raise money for an exhibition in London as part of his university course. He asked famous designers to create a piece of work about what they would do, if they could do anything tomorrow. Surprisingly, he got some replies to his cold-calling, and then had to go about showcasing the work he was being offered.
As he was explaining all this, he made it very clear that he and his fellow students were jumping in the deep end with both feet, as they had no clue what they were doing and just asked everybody they knew what they should do. Some of his friends did know what to do and eventually, wise decisions were made. This process was repeated at every stage, along with negotiating deals with the printers, gallery space owners and what not. Cost reduction and negating risk were at the heart of every business decision.
After this, Will talked about how he started It’s Nice That, a website (which he was quick to point out, did not start successfully at all) where you can find cool design stuff. After that, he talked about various HudsonBec (a portmanteau of founders Will Hudson and Alex Bec’s surnames) initiatives, including Anyways a design agency they have and Lecture in Progress, a lecture series designed to demystify the design industry for students.
Will voiced his commitment to showing the more mundane elements of the day to day workings in the design world to help students grasp the realities of a career in design.
Finally, Will had advice for students. He recommended asking professionals for advice over a coffee, something informal like that, since everyone loves giving their opinion far more than reading CVs. He showed a motivational video he was sent possibly as a joke, but that he couldn’t quite dismiss, since the advice was surprisingly good. He also recommended targeting people with specific emails and tailoring your message to the individual: ‘Two or three good emails are much better than 50 “to whom it may concern”s.’
All in all, Will Hudson was very informative, down to Earth, and set a high standard for all the other speakers to follow that week. The take away from his presentation is this: have an idea and go do it. Work it out as you do it, no excuses. Keep thinking, keep doing, and at some point, you’ll get traction.
Something about the start of his journey stood out to me: as part of his university course, he was expected to raise money for an exhibition. I don’t think it can be understated how big a deal it is that he was never allowed to create work in a bubble, away from the real world. Everything he had to do, had to be costed for production, paid for, not always with money, and then sold for profit. He was doing this thing for real while still on his course. It’s a very dangerous habit to get into, thinking ‘oh this doesn’t matter. I’s just for uni.’ I know I think like that and it’s a massive problem. Good think I’m studying to become a professional problem solver right? I mean a designer. Not a hitman. I know. I thought hitman too, and I was writing this…