Helen Ferguson: Fostering creativity for future designers

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Helen Ferguson: Fostering creativity for future designers

In February, senior brand designer at Hulsbosch, Helen Ferguson became a mentor for Graphic Design students at Enmore TAFE to guide group entry submissions from Australia for the 2024 D&AD New Blood Awards. The D&AD New Blood Awards is a prestigious annual awards program that invites students from across the globe to creatively respond to one of many industry-style briefs set by international brands, from Airbnb, Coca Cola to Universal Music and many more. Students share the hope of winning a famous pencil award, recognised by many as one of the world’s most prestigious benchmarks for creativity. Here, Ferguson shares insights from her experience as a mentor exclusive to CB.


Every Tuesday for the past 6 weeks I have been mentoring a talented group of forty students on the Advanced Diploma course studying Graphic Design at Enmore TAFE in Sydney.

At Hulsbosch, we work with and invest time in student program pathways like the D&AD New Blood awards competition to inspire and support students at a critical time in their learning with the aim to kick starting their careers and gaining exposure in the creative industry.

Award programs like this open amazing opportunities with internships and firsthand experiences with creatives from industry, bridging what can feel like a daunting gap.

Each of us at Hulsbosch has experienced what it’s like starting out, so it’s our way of giving back to the next generation of designers in a highly valuable way.

And you never know, some of these students may become future team members, so it’s also an effective way to seek out new talent to join us on our internship program we run with students and graduates.

Our mentoring sessions are fast-paced and energetic, and we cover a lot of ground in our time together, for me and the other mentors.

It’s a rigorous process for the students: from understanding the challenge and the boundaries of the creative brief, to discovering insights within their target audience, through to idea generation and execution.

My job is to guide, support and challenge their ideas to push their thinking and stretch their imagination.

Questions from students are plentiful, which reflect an abundance of curiosity and are far-reaching, but the central one is “how to bottle the best idea?”.

Coming up with the most original, inventive but appropriate ideas is key to producing the best outcome and answer the brief itself. Embracing the power of the imagination, thinking big and trusting the creative process is crucial.

But with so much stuff out there in the world and so much stimulus overloading our brains daily, it is necessary to let your imagination run free and give it space to grow and breathe, to find a way to bottle those ground-breaking ideas.

The big ideas are what we strive for in the Hulsbosch studio and that is something that’s been engrained into my brain since I was a student. It’s important to push these students into this headspace and pass on this aspirational way of thinking.

It’s never a straight line. Just when you think you’re on the path for a great result; the one serendipitous moment when the uncontrollable is nearly controlled; it’s often a bumpy ride of creativity but trust your training and instinct.

Sometimes the fast-paced agency process diminishes inspiration, but a rich source can be found in out of category norms. This can prevent drifting too far in strategy and be the surest form of innovation and creative breakthroughs.

For example, the brief may be for a medical technology brand but exploration of language and semiotics for a fintech or neobank could reveal an alternative approach to the brand expression and in-turn, creation of a successful identity that has high stand-out against competitors.

It’s been a rewarding 6 weeks for me and have thoroughly enjoyed giving back. My parting words of wisdom for the students? Give space, away from the noise to allow your imagination to run free; always focus on and lead with big ideas; and consider how that idea is scalable for different touch points on the customer journey.

For both students and industry professionals there is no perfect formula to create meaningful and distinctive work: each brief requires a creative process that works for the individual, client, and agency, and therefore a one-size fits all does not exist.

The power is in the hands of the creatives to dig deep, escape cluttered thinking and uncover those creative gems.

Now in its 16th year, Hulsbosch offers an annual student and graduate internship program that is tailored to participants learning and progression, with their future development and career path in mind. For more information email: info@hulsbosch.com.au.