You may have noticed that up there, in the left hand corner of this page, under the floral and fauna logo a sentence reads ‘aspiring event designer & creative individual’. I feel like this blog has captured the ‘creative individual’ parts of me well, the ‘aspiring event designer’ claim however, not so much. I feel that this claim to fame has been hovering in mid-sentence without any concrete declaration for the last few years so I thought I would write a short post about what being an aspiring event designer means and how I am currently achieving my goals.
To achieve dreams, the hard yards and ground work has to be achieved first and foremost. I am a strong believer that if you haven’t built a solid foundation then how do you expect a beautiful house to withstand the test of time? So for the last three years I have been living and studying in Auckland. Auckland University of Technology offers a Bachelor of Arts in event management and it is with this degree in mind that I picked up, packed up and moved to Auckland. I think university is equally about the experience of creating home in a foreign city and networking with like minded, talented individuals as much as it is about learning and ending up with a degree. That being said, I want to write the next couple of sentences to briefly describe my degree incase any young hearted individual out there is considering a career of similar taste.
The core papers AUT offers in this degree follow along the lines of event production, event planning, an event perspective, contemporary issues in event management and cooperative learning – an industry/internship based paper. Of course this will be muddled up with other minors and majors, for example, I chose to do business and sustainable design.
The majority of my lecturers were solid in both their understanding and teaching skills. The frustrating thing about University is that as far as I understand you don’t have to have achieved a teacher’s certificate to lecture, you just have to have done the research. Unfortunately this sometimes affects the quality of a paper, although I only had two relatively bad tutors, the others were top notch, knew their stuff both academic and practical, and were everything from quirky, charming and downright hilarious. The core event papers were definitely catered towards big/mega events, Fifa World Cup, The Olympics, Cultural and Sporting Events.
Because I am a creative individual who was attracted to small events because of their personal nature, I found this difficult. However, I do think that this learning and knowledge will give me an edge in the small event design industry and give me a point of difference as opposed to someone who is simply just creative. It will be interesting to see how I can apply event knowledge such as creating an operation manual or feasibility study, risk management plans, event evaluations and business proposals to a small intimate wedding or product launch. Nonetheless learning and gaining knowledge is such a privilege and asset that it will be up to me to work aspects of these skills into small event designs.
If you are just starting to get curious about studying events or have been for awhile I would suggest work experience or even creating your own experience before jumping head first into a student loan. Previously I volunteered with two event design companies. Both were really different, one focused on large corporate design and the other was a small Auckland based prop hire / design company. It wasn’t until my second year summer break that I fell in love and found a little floral studio based in Brooklyn, Wellington. Here I found that I was desperate to learn and soak in the creative brilliance that I was sure was in abundance. Working for this company over the summer really solidified my choice of study. If I can encourage one thing to any other aspiring event designers it would be to put value in industry experience, classroom learning and personal ventures.
I am currently in my last year of this degree and the little floral studio I just mentioned above has very generously and lovingly arranged for me to work for them and complete my co-operative industry learning paper. To be able to work in an environment that is creative, encouraging and safe is a massive blessing. If you can find the right people to guide you, inspire you and correct you, you are on the right track to success. Also a quick note, make sure to look for authenticity. In the last couple of years I have heard of and come across people who leave out the ‘aspiring’ in event designer and just claim their interest and hobby as professional. Although there is nothing directly wrong with this, and I have met many a wonderful individual who has turned their passion into their work, there is also great value in experience and authenticity. Find a boss, mentor or future employer who understands that they themselves are always learning. And if for some reason you can’t seem to get your foot in the door do not be discouraged, people are busy. Be different, be genuine, honest and excited and business owners will see your radiance & remember it.
If you are still cautious about University and/or are curious about event design, then have a little look at the list of books below. At University the supplementary reading lists are as long as the towers outside my first year apartment window. They are also very expensive and very intense. The following is a short list of books I have/ or want to read in regards to events. I also want to extend an invitation to any curious creatures to flick me a message if you wish to hear more about starting out in the event design industry. I have only just tipped my toes in this industry and although my practical knowledge is small my encouragement is abundant.
- The Accidental Creative – How to be Brilliant at a Moments Notice – Todd Henry
- Reflections of a Successful Wallflower: Lessons in Business; Lessons in life – By Andrea Michaels
- Confessions of an Event Planner – Judy Allen.
- Special Events: A New Generation and the Next Frontier by Joe Jeff Goldblatt (University recommended reading).
- Into the Heart of Meetings; Basic Principles of Meeting Design – Mike Van Der Vijve
Photo credit Moon flower photography x