Michelle Sadler
Michelle Sadler - BA Art & Design

Michelle Sadler

A degree student who once had designs on a career in sport has become accomplished in a creative field in record-breaking time.

Michelle Sadler (25) from Glasgow has progressed onto the BA Art and Design – from the HND Visual Communication course – at Forth Valley College’s Stirling Campus, despite having no art portfolio or experience before starting in August 2014.

The Stirling University BA Sport and Exercise Science graduated impressed so much on her interview, that she was given a chance to prove herself on the course and has paid the Creative Industries Department back in spades with her dedication, commitment, creative talent and also becoming a published illustrator for a new children’s Fair Trade book.

Michelle, who was born in Cyprus into a British military family, said:

“I was academically minded at school and was not encouraged to go down the artistic route. In fact it was thought I would enter the army like my dad. I even worked for the army in Germany for a year after school and then applied for Sandhurst.

“I ended up at Stirling University on my Sport and Exercise Science course, but after I had completed my degree after three years, I had a rethink about what I wanted to do. My gran had been an artist in her time and my mother was a seamstress by trade and I felt there had always been a creative side to me.

“I found the Forth Valley College course online. I had looked at the range of courses in the Creative Industries Department and decided to go for the Visual Communication – now Graphic Design – as I felt I would be in a good position to enter a career in that field when I finished college.

“When I turned up at the interview I had to tell Steph Toms the Curriculum Manager that I had never done art before, but I asked her to take a chance on me and she did. Since then I have worked really, really hard and I have made it this far, so hopefully I have repaid the faith Steph showed in me back then.

“It has definitely been one step at a time though but I love it here. I didn’t even know whether I would be able to stay on to do the BA Art and Design until after I had completed the HND. However I spoke to some of my lecturers and they convinced me to do at least another year and I am now specialising in hand lettering and typography illustrations. I really think that this is the ideal thing for me.”

Michelle was also instrumental in the creation of a new illustrated children’s book to promote Fair Trade – written by four FVC Early Education students - about the adventures of Jolly Trolley, which was launched in November during Book Week Scotland.

Michelle, who brought the characters to life on the pages, talked through her creative process:

“I really liked the collaboration of this project and I definitely do it again as it was a valuable experience working on a live brief. I received the story and read it a couple of times. I then pictured it in my head how I would see the characters and then I produced a story-board and narrowed down the number of images I would need in order to tell the story the best. I was very happy with the result and really proud of how it all turned out.”

On the future Michelle – who recently completed a work placement with Graphic Design Festival Scotland - added:

“Ideally to begin with I would like to go and work in a design studio in Glasgow or London and see how the industry works, but long term I would love to open my own studio and work as a freelance typographer and hand letterer.

“I am very proud of what I have achieved so far, especially with having no background in art at all. I have come along way since walking through the Forth Valley College Stirling Campus doors for the first time. To be honest the facilities are great here and the lecturers have taught me everything I know about art and have given me a huge amount of guidance. I am really glad the hard work I have put in is paying them back a wee bit.

“I would definitely recommend the college and the department and my advice to anyone thinking about art at the college would be – Give yourself a chance; an interest in arts is a great start but everything else can be learned at college. The creative process is the most important thing you will be taught here, everything else will fall into place after that. Knowing what else is out there is really important but trust your instinct with your design, as long as you have tried different options, you will reach the best option in the end.”

Creative Industries lecturer Pam Holden, said:

“Michelle is passionate about what she does and she understands that graphic design isn’t just a nine to five calling. It’s about a constant learning, always looking for inspiration and being able to come out of your comfort zone. When she’s not working, or completing college work, you can usually find her creating side projects or doing client work – this dedication and passion to her craft will take her far.”


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