GCA’s Open Call to encourage graduates into industry

Geoff Sanderson and association aim to bring in fresh creative talent via student initiative

 

Greetings to graduates is the aim of the GCA’s new Open Call programme with Geoff Sanderson, the former Hallmark, Moonpig and Tigerprint/M&S creative director, leading the bid to show just how brilliant the industry can be for students.

And Geoff’s blog on how graduates and the greetings industry can be good for each other is now live on the GCA website, while he’ll also be expounding on the subject at the association’s AGM and annual conference at Nottingham Trent University on Thursday, 29 September.

“We are delighted that Geoff has agreed to lead this project for the GCA,” ceo Amanda Fergusson told PG Buzz, “bringing his skills, knowledge and many years of experience. Attracting new design talent into the greeting card industry is vital for the future of our industry and we are excited about the opportunities for GCA Open Call.

Above: The GCA’s AGM and annual conference
Above: The GCA’s AGM and annual conference

“We want to bring the industry with us on this so are keen to offer those publishers who are interested and able to get involved the opportunity to help us develop this initiative. Also, we want to hear from publishers who are keen to offer work experience, etc, so that we can start looking to help build connections.”

Having started on his own market stall, Geoff has worked with cash-strapped start-ups and corporate PLCs, amassing 35 years’ experience in the world of cards, gifts and licensing as a creative director, consultant and advisor.

And he’s begun the process of reaching out to universities and graduates already, by picking a number of students, from Birmingham City, Manchester Metropolitan and Nottingham Trent universities, at the New Designers showcase to shortlist for the inaugural Open Call, several of whom will also be attending the GCA conference.

Above: GCA Council Members Chris Bryan, Second Nature; Mark Callaby, Ohh Deer; and Rachel Hare, Belly Button; joining Geoff and Amanda at the first online meeting with Maisy Lewin-Sanderson from Manchester ,and Helen Wheeler from Birmingham, to start the planning for the Open Call project
Above: GCA Council Members Chris Bryan, Second Nature; Mark Callaby, Ohh Deer; and Rachel Hare, Belly Button; joining Geoff and Amanda at the first online meeting with Maisy Lewin-Sanderson from Manchester ,and Helen Wheeler from Birmingham, to start the planning for the Open Call project

Geoff said: “This curated sample is a taster of the talent available each year and this annual GCA conference is acting as a pilot to assess the potential and interest within industry, while gathering opinions from all for future years.

“Having the right creative recruitment in place, from a graduate level upwards, is essential for design innovation. The development and nurturing of fresh graduate talent straight from degree shows, through offering placements, work experience, and freelance commission, can then organically lead to contracts and full-time jobs.

“I feel the industry could visibly do more to open its doors and provide a pathway to graduates of illustration and graphic design in particular. Many graduates don’t know the industry exists and, if they do, they don’t know how to tap into it.

Above: Geoff with (left) MMU Illustration graduates Georgina, Poppy, Eve and lecturer Maisy Lewin-Sanderson; BCU illustration graduates Bethany, Erin and Katie and course leader Helen Wheeler; and NTU MA Illustration graduate Anna
Above: Geoff with (left) MMU Illustration graduates Georgina, Poppy, Eve and lecturer Maisy Lewin-Sanderson; BCU illustration graduates Bethany, Erin and Katie and course leader Helen Wheeler; and NTU MA Illustration graduate Anna

“This is a wonderful industry for creative people to join. Tell any senior lecturer about the scale and size of the industry and the opportunities that exist, and they’ll marvel at its potential for graduates, especially in the scary post-Covid world where opportunity is scarce. There are thousands of willing entrants but no main doorway, often leading to missed opportunity, misunderstanding, and frustration.”

With the GCA, Geoff is set on building Open Call into an industry-wide programme with placements like those already run by Hallmark, who also pick two graduates from New Designers each year to work with its creative studio for a month – this year’s pair can be found here and the publisher boasts at least four current staff who came to the company through the scheme.

Above: BCU illustration’s Get Lost degree show stand
Above: BCU illustration’s Get Lost degree show stand

And the plan is to make the GCA a credible point of contact for information about the industry, graduate work-placement opportunities, jobs etc.

Keep an eye on PG Buzz and visit the GCA website for more on this project, including further information about the 2022 shortlisted graduates. If you’re keen to get involved please contact Geoff and Amanda via the GCA, and use the same link to let the association know of any experience and views you’re able to share.

To hear Geoff speak about GCA Open Call and to meet some of this year’s graduates, book your ticket for the AGM and conference, which takes place on 29 September in Nottingham Trent University.

Top: Geoff Sanderson is sourcing new talent

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