Tom Hardwick

Tom Hardwick

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background.

Originally from the depths of Cornwall I’m a 23 year old creative mind with a passion for design and storytelling. From an early age I was always doodling on the back of my maths books and counting down the minutes until my double art session on Tuesday afternoons.

It was during my GCSE in Fine Art and DT Graphic Products where I first discovered my passion for design and strategy, which I took further by studying A-level fine art and Graphic Communications where I developed a keen interest in the combined elements of theory and creativity in the crafting of my work.

I decided to continue my creative journey by studying a Foundation Diploma in Art & Design (at Arts University Bournemouth) and my BA (Hons) Graphic Design degree (at Norwich University of the Arts) where I started to incorporate the forms of design and storytelling through my work.

What made you want to apply to your MA course and to Leeds?

The MA course provided me with the opportunity to take my knowledge of design and understanding and application of brand strategy to a new level. It gave me the opportunity to not just design visually appealing outcomes, but to learn how brands operate and understand the process of how I can help to make them grow and expand.

The course is the perfect combination of design and theory. It gives you the knowledge to understand how brands work and gives you the skills in how to apply them in real world situations, to help bring your initial thoughts and conceptual designs to life.

What is it that makes you passionate about your area of study?

My aim is to connect perspectives, unify cultures & voices by building bridges using the language of Graphic Design & Communication. I work by uniting strategic thinking and creativity to craft new and unique directions to create meaningful brands which can grow and engage with people.

What excites me most is the work I haven’t done yet. Your best project could still be one you haven’t even started yet. The opportunity to work in industry with global brands that people see and interact with everyday is amazing to call my job. It shows that art, design and creativity can lead to great amazing outcomes and to those opportunities that you used to dream about when you were younger.

Having the the opportunity to work with brands to help them grow, develop and change to help benefit people and make a meaningful impact in peoples lives is what I think about every time I put pen to paper at the start of a project.

In short, I’ve turned my hobby into my job and childhood passion into my career.

What aspects of the course did you enjoy the most?

The course is a precise balance of guidance and independence. It has provided me with the opportunity to curate projects according to the area of design I am interested in which has allowed me to create a portfolio I am confident with; which also showcases my skill set.

The freedom to pick or make up my own brief within the course is making me feel more like a creative director everyday. The tutors listen to your opinions and respect your thoughts when it comes to design; they always encourage you to think bigger and aim higher.

Did you work closely with a particular tutor or member or the University’s academic staff? Tell us about that experience.

It has been so nice and refreshing to know that our course leader is so invested in the course, where others stay more in the background. Mike has attended our class socials, leads a number of course lectures, always offered one-to-one help for anyone who needs it and is always there to answer your questions. As a tutor he has gone above and beyond the support a tutor is expected to give, and as a result gives you the confidence when approaching a new project. By knowing that there is someone behind you who believes in you, and is also is there to provide you with support and guidance if you need to help bring the best out of you, is what makes a course truly worthwhile.

Can you tell us about taking part in the D&AD New Blood Pencil Award competition – the inspiration behind your entry, the journey of creating your submission, and the general experience of taking part?

Inspiration can come from the smallest thing. The inspiration behind my D&AD entry came from Mike’s presentation about how to layout a professional creative brief. He brought up the D&AD Tesco brief on screen and talked us through the fundamentals of the brief, and as soon as he started to unpick it ideas came flooding into my head. At the start it was a brief that I hadn’t considered attempting, but after just being talked through the structure and key elements of the brief, I was able to understand exactly what the client (Tesco) was asking for and how to apply my initial concept into a winning combination.

I am a firm believer than the first ideas that comes to your mind after reading a brief are some of the best. A designers first ideas are instinctive, and therefore contain that little bit of magic that other people can’t match, as everybody thinks differently which is exactly we produce such diverse range of different ideas and creative outcomes.

What would you say to anyone thinking of applying to your course?

During the course you’ll meet people from different background with a large range of different skills who you can learn from. Even at MA level you’re still learning, so make sure to go into things with an open mind. The tutors you work with on the course are past and current industry professionals, with years of experience to get the best out of ourselves, and puts our work towards more meaningful outcomes. Have a passion for design and strategy, that’s the key for enjoying your work and when your enjoy your work your produce the best results