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A world of creativity at college ‘expo’

Posted: 13 March 2023

Experts from the creative sector have joined together in a creative extravaganza at an annual expo hosted by West Nottinghamshire College.

Guests at the Create Expo on Friday 24 February, were able to meet with specialists from the digital games and 3D design industries, as well as meet those in top careers within graphic design.

At the expo, which is in its sixth year and devised by the college's design and media learning company specialist Tony Hall, guests could see live demonstrations and gather expert advice from the speakers, who have many years of experience in the sector.

First to take to the stage in the college’s Create Theatre was Paul Colls, the creative director of Sheffield-based company, Sumo Digital. He shared his passion about the evolution of the medium, from design and technology and the opportunities this affords game developers with the audience.

With over 20 years in the games industry, Paul has worked across many disciplines at internationally renowned studios, including working at Rockstar Games, he has worked on some of the world’s biggest gaming internet protocol including Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption and Call of Duty.

The audience also welcomed Tina Brown, creative director of Summit Creative design, print and digital agency. She spoke of her experience within print marketing as well as her work now with clients who require brand promotion across social media, print, email marketing and websites.

Tina, who graduated from Nottingham Trent University, often delivers lectures on career development to undergraduates and also supports the Business and IP Centre through webinar programmes on brand development and design to help small businesses progress.

Illustrator Naomi Tipping spoke about the colourful and fun world of illustration and gave a presentation about how observational drawing feeds her published illustration work. She spoke about using her sketchbooks as a place to experiment and play and how she uses characters and scenarios from her sketchbooks within her picture book and editorial work. She has worked for well-known clients such as The Independent, The Daily Telegraph, John Lewis and Hodder and Owlet Press.

Visual effects and 3D artist Simon Smalley spoke about his career move from freelance animator to games artist and art director for a mobile games company. He is now involved in creating visual effects for television and film on a freelance basis, having worked recently on programmes such as BBC’s Death in Paradise, Sky Atlantic’s Gangs of London, ITV’s The Suspect and Amazon Prime’s Your Christmas or Mine.

Co-founder of Nottingham-based Brainbug Design, Aidan Wilson, spoke about how he got into the industry and set up in business – sharing tips and advice of how other people may venture into self-employment. He spoke passionately about how his lifelong interest in art, home computers and games and his biggest highlight is doing something for a living “that I’ve literally wanted to do since I was a child.”

Aidan has worked on games with worldwide recognition such as Sonic the Hedgehog and Sea of Thieves. He said: “Just as important in this career is the need to constantly be engaged in technological and artistic advances – the games industry has always been at the cutting edge of new tech, and that doesn’t show any sign of slowing down anytime soon!

Hopefully, I communicated some of the opportunities and excitement available in this career path to the audience. It was a great day and the other speakers were very inspiring too. It’s always a pleasure to hear other professionals talk about their passions and what drives them!

Councillor Stuart Richardson from Mansfield District Council attended the event and said: “What a wonderful day I had at the Create Expo. The presentations and talking to the students has reinforced my belief that this is where we need to be as a town. The students and the staff seem so invested in everything that is happening and there is so much to applaud, I have to say I feel inspired by it all.” 

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