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Q&A: Andrew Wolffe on talking shop with current students

Andrew Wolffe graduated from Edinburgh College of Art with a degree in Visual Communication in 1986. The founder and creative director of the design agency Wolffe in Edinburgh, we asked him why he now imparts his professional wisdom on the college's current cohort of students.

Andrew Wolffe

You have spoken at several events that offer professional advice to our current students. Why have you chosen to take part?

I believe students get great value when they are engaged with industry professionals. We have to deal with things that are not taught at University and have a keen interest in well-rounded students being in the marketplace.

Is advice from alumni something you benefitted from while a student?

No, there was no such thing as a formal alumni world when I graduated – and that’s a shame. Our sector has undergone huge changes in the past 30 years, and now is a good time to ramp up the alumni effort at ECA.

Why is it important that students hear from graduates who have gone on to have successful careers?

It proves that it can be done. Telling our basic life story and the hurdles one has had to overcome makes the challenges facing a student more bearable, and opens their eyes to the opportunities ahead.

Why do you enjoy helping Edinburgh students?

I like to think that a small word of advice from me might help a student find a path that helps them in their future. As an alumnus of Edinburgh College of Art, I would like to see students from there do well. I would like to see the College have a reputation as a place where good professionals are nurtured.

Do you believe an Edinburgh education is a unique one?

It certainly was when I was at college; the artistic emphasis – on life drawing, for example – was unique when I was at the College of Art. I hope that emphasis is still there.

Which moments or activities during your studies really influenced your subsequent career choices and opportunities?

Exploring many facets of design in my foundation year helped me find the area of design that was right for me. I didn’t do any graphic design until the final term of my foundation year, it was like a light switching on for me.

What do you wish you’d known as a student?

We didn’t spend as much time debating work, sharing and presenting our work when I was a student as students do now. That is a great skill and is the only thing of which I wish we had done more.

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