Working positively with autism: Student placement raises awareness

Monday March 21, 2022

FdA Graphics & Digital Design student, Daniel McKoy, recently completed his placement at Nottingham Mencap, a local charity dedicated to the service of people with a learning disability or difficulty, and their families and carers. During his placement Daniel added huge value to a range of new promotional materials for the charity. The experience was also a personal one for Daniel, who drew on experiences of working positively with his own autism to help create awareness of disabilities.

Disability awareness

At Confetti you not only get the chance to learn from experts in the creative industries, and access to industry-standard tech in our amazing facilities, you also get lots of opportunities for hands-on experience. Asked why he chose to take on a placement with Nottingham Mencap, Daniel said:

“I enjoy designing content to raise awareness about social issues. I wanted to get involved with Nottingham Mencap so that I could help create awareness of disabilities. I used my own experiences and brought ways that I have found to work positively with my autism to the placement.”

We caught up with Daniel to find out all about his experiences supporting Nottingham Mencap, what it meant to him, and why he’d recommend a placement to other students:

Disability awareness

Hi Daniel, thanks for agreeing to be interviewed, let’s start with finding out a bit about you…

Sure thing, my name’s Daniel Mckoy, I’m a 2nd Year FdA Graphics and Digital Design student at Confetti. I like bowling, going out with my friends to the cinema, attending my film society, playing pool, and watching Photoshop videos on YouTube.

What made you want to study FdA Graphics & Digital Design?

I wanted to find a graphic design job, but I was unsure about other options I could explore. So, I contacted a careers advisor and she suggested the different routes I could take, one of them was studying a degree at university. She said it would increase my chances of getting a design job. I took some time to think about it and then decided to apply for the course. This was because the course description looked interesting, I wanted the opportunity to continue building up my skills and experience.

What do you love about graphic design?

I enjoy exploring ideas and producing designs to communicate concepts. I like to use InDesign to document my design process for my modules and for laying out images and text for editorial design. I also love to use Photoshop to develop concepts creatively and design posters to raise awareness about social issues.

This isn’t the first time you’ve done work experience, is it?

No it isn’t, I did two work placements as part of a personal development programme with the Prince’s Trust. I got the opportunity to design posters for the Prince’s Trust, and one for the Nottingham Fire and Rescue Service.

Why did you choose to do a work placement with Nottingham Mencap?

I wanted to get involved with the charity so that I could help create awareness of disabilities. I used my own experiences and brought ways that I have found to work positively with my autism to the placement. I have learned how to communicate confidently with new people, this was especially useful when I visited the charity to take photos.

What were your tasks and responsibilities during your placement?

I was asked to research Nottingham Mencap and its services, design an A5 leaflet, some flyers, and a pull-up banner to help promote them. I was required to attend virtual meetings to update my client on my designs and review them with him.

That all sounds really great Daniel, we’ve dropped some images of the A5 leaflet you created below:

Disability awareness

Can you talk us through the artwork you created for Nottingham Mencap?

I wanted to create something in keeping with Mencap’s brand and values. The charity is all about being, supportive, reaching out and lending a helping hand, this inspired the creative. I first found a stock image of hands from the internet. Next, I separated the hands from its background, incorporated images of the charity’s members into them and extracted the white background from their logo in Photoshop. Then, I created contact icons in Illustrator, and visited the organisation to take photographs in different environments for the back cover. Finally, I imported the icons to the back cover and the hands imagery to the front cover in InDesign, before finalising images and text for each service inside the leaflet. Once I had the design concept down, I imported it over to other materials I worked on, including the pull-up banner and the A4 flyer.

What skills and experience from your course did you use to complete the work?

I used the InDesign skills I picked up from an editorial design module to professionally arrange content inside the leaflet. I applied the Illustrator skills I acquired from producing a brand identity for a fictional awareness campaign, as part of a branding and advertising module, to help me create the contact icons. I also used the Photoshop skills I developed from digitally manipulating images to creatively communicate a concept (the hands) that best helps to promote the organisation.

How did you find working with the team at Nottingham Mencap?

I settled in well and my client was very friendly, especially when showing me on a tour around the building and introducing me to the staff. The working environment was great and I managed to concentrate on my design without any distractions.

What did you want to achieve with your placement?

I wanted to develop my knowledge and experience with Adobe design software and my branding and advertising skills. I wanted to apply these in a real-world work environment. I wanted to develop Nottingham Mencap’s brand to help them achieve their goals. I also wanted to add to my own design portfolio.

Would you recommend a work placement to other students?

Yes, I would recommend the work placement to other students, particularly those studying graphic design. It will give you experience in designing marketing materials for a company, which is useful if you are thinking of going into advertising, branding and editorial design, these are the areas I aspire to specialise in as a graphic designer.

Visit Nottingham Mencap’s website to find out more about the charity and their fantastic work in the community.

Disability awareness

“Daniel was a great student to work with. Diligent, conscientious and hard working. Daniel was keen to understand the organisation and achieved all that we had hoped he would in his placement. We would like to use his design in future campaigns and on our website. Daniel should be proud of the work he has done!” – Daniel Hewis, Deputy Chief Executive Officer at Nottingham Mencap

Are you interested in studying at Confetti and getting the opportunity to go on work placements within the industry? Have a look through our great range of courses and register for one of our virtual open days to find out more.