Making school cool
Laura Cartledge discovers a design course with a difference.
Many of us will have fond memories of teachers, some might even have helped paved our career paths.
However, I would wager that few of us will have experienced classrooms graced by the calibre of internationally-renowned artists and designers who have pledged their support for a new course launching in Bognor Regis on January 9.
Bill Strohacker, whose own background includes work for Virgin and Smash Hits, has worked to create a ‘hyper-focused, fast-paced curriculum’ in a bid to help launch the next generation of graphic designers.
The Chichester businessman revealed the venture was motivated by him becoming ‘quite disillusioned’ with how the subject is taught.
“Universities are not always able to adjust courses to suit the workplace,” he reasons.
“At degree level they have to stick with modules, which is not the universities’ fault, but change for them can take years while this industry can change every few weeks.”
Having contacted agencies in regards to what they were looking for from employees and gotten feedback from students as to how courses could be improved, Bill was determined to ‘come up with something that addresses the issues’.
This includes ‘cost, contact time with tutors and providing the right skills for the job’.
“The obvious thing to do was run a 9am to 5pm course where you hit the ground running with briefs like you would in a real job,” he explained. “It will have a studio environment too.”
Plus, despite only running for three solid months, Bill says the contact hours ‘are the same as in a year-long degree course’.
When looking to the future it is obvious Bill decided to draw on the past – returning to his own time at college for inspiration.
“The next thing was finding the right people. Because I am old and have been in the industry for 25 years I called in all my friend favours,” Bill grins.
Among them is Jamie Hewlett, former Northbrook College class mate and co-creator (along with Britpop legend Damon Albarn) of world-famous virtual band Gorillaz.
“I know him really well and wanted his involvement. He has got what we need and the young appeal,” he admitted. “Plus, because we have all been through the system we know what we did at college was the right way and we are trying to resurrect that.”
Other patrons include fine artist and Sussex resident Lady Pippa Blake and Vince Frost, who is known for his work with the likes of Qantas and the Sydney Opera House.
As well as great connections, Bill says a little bit of luck has also helped the course get off the ground.
This includes where it will be based, at a rented space in the beautiful Dome Building of Chichester University’s Bognor campus.
“I thought it might be a conflict of interests,” Bill confesses, “but the start up business manager said the university doesn’t do anything like it – he has been brilliant.”
Keen to help potential students with funding, Bill was also served up a sense of ‘meant to be’ when he discovered Education Aid.
Not only did he see it as the perfect fit for his ‘alternative’ way of doing things, as it is described as being ‘like crowdfunding but for your education’, it also turned out to be run by a Chichester man who agreed to get involved.
In addition to this the hope is to team up with local businesses for a scholarship programme – something Bill deems would ‘be a really cool way of doing it’.
“We are hoping that the funding for this scholarship programme will come from donations by local businesses,” he explains.
“By empowering local communities and supporting students at all levels, we are working to remove barriers and aim to help them realise the full potential of this type of education.”
What’s more Bill is passionate for the student support to not finish when the course does.
With this in mind he’s made a year-long promise of assisting in job hunting and plans are in the pipeline for a contacts database created by all those involved.
“That is where I think we can really shine,” he enthuses. “After all it’s all about who you know.”
Course founder Bill Strohacker
Work by designers who have pledged their support including Gorillaz, Levi and a HSBC television campaign
October 26, 2016 Business and Investments