Swansea College of Art alumni shared their career successes with current Illustration students at 'Making Connections' employability event


University of Wales Trinity Saint David's (UWTSD) Swansea College of Art students were treated to an interesting and rewarding event featuring presentations by two creative industry practitioners and alumni of the University. 

Headshot of James Feakins, alumni of Swansea College of Art

The speakers were UWTSD Swansea College of Art alumni Ocean Hughes and James Deakin. The virtual Teams event was attended by 18 second year students from the BA(Hons) Illustration course as part of their Changemakers: Building your Personal Brand for Sustainable Employment graduate attributes module.

Ian Simmons, Lecturer at UWTSD's Swansea College of Art, organised the session, and said: "It was great to work with Ocean and James again. I have been following their careers closely and am grateful that they took time out of their busy schedules to talk to our students. Their presentations were enjoyable, informative and also served to reinforce the professional issues we have been exploring during their graduate attributes module."

The event was a huge success, and feedback from students was extremely positive.

Details of the speakers:

James Feakins (Graduated 2013) - UI & UX Designer at Playtonic Games Freelance Illustrator at Bleached Ink

James.feakins@playtonicgames.com | https://www.artstation.com/bleachedink 

James (pictured above) talked about his, sometimes rocky path, from struggling freelancer to successful games artist and UX/UI designer. Unlike Ocean, James’ road to his ideal job was longer but no less rewarding. He had to work retail jobs to support himself whilst building a professional portfolio and talked about how crucial it is to remain focused and not lose heart; if you really want to be a professional creative it may take time, and quite a lot of effort, but you will succeed if you stick at it.

He spoke about the importance of building, and maintaining, relationships with other creatives and the importance of networking. He stressed that students should do this whilst still at university and not to wait until after graduation; collaborate with other creatives, work on personal projects, seek feedback from those already successful in your chosen industry and then act upon it. James also outlined how important it was to start gaining transferable skills now, and not wait until after graduation, and also the importance of having interests outside of your practice.

Ocean Hughes (Graduated 2019) - Digital Arts: Best New Illustration Talent from New Designers Winner of the Hayden John James Award for drawing and painting 2019


Ocean (pictured below) started off the session with an overview of her career following graduation, illustrated with beautiful examples of her illustration work. She talked about her first paid commission (whilst in her second year at Swansea College of Art, UWTSD), gaining agent representation from the Plum Pudding agency, the importance of creating personal work alongside client work and the ins and outs of being a professional children’s book illustrator.

Ocean was very open and honest about her work, breaking down each project into time taken to complete, total fee and net fee after the agency commission had been deducted. She talked about the process of working with an agent, as well as the illustrator client relationship and painted a very vivid, and entertaining, picture of her life as a freelance illustrator.

Headshot of Ocean Hughes, alumni of Swansea College of Art

Further Information

Ella Staden

Swyddog y Wasg a'r Cyfryngau

Press and Media Officer

Cyfathrebu Corfforaethol a Chysylltiadau Cyhoeddus

Corporate Communications and PR

Email : ella.staden@uwtsd.ac.uk