Afterlife: Gareth Dunt

This Afterlife session was lead by Gareth Dunt, our final Afterlife presenter! He graduated from CSAD Graphic Design in 2010. Gareth is from Rhyl, North Wales, he was initially interested in architecture as a career path, but completing some work experience in the industry, he found that it wasn’t what he wanted. His brother worked in an interior design studio, which inspired Gareth to research a career in graphic design. He then went to college, and spent a lot of time experimenting with typography and photograms, which elad him to apply for and gain a place on the graphics course at CSAD. He went to the 4 Designers talk in London in his 2nd year of university, and was massively inspired by Michael Wolf. A phrase that Gareth memorised as a quote from Michael was “it’s better to be interested, than interesting” which really summed up his philosophy for graphic design (and everyday life).

After graduating from CSAD, Gareth worked for 3 months in Elmwood, London. Shortly after, he carried out a short internship at Kin, London, where he worked mainly on on exhibition design and interactive projects. He then completed a two-week internship that was unsuccessful. I felt really sorry for Gareth when he was describing this time of his life, it must have been extremely disappointing to be unsuccessful after graduating and moving to London, especially because of the price of living. He then worked 24/7 with little to no rest, social life or food because of the expense of living in London, and realised that he couldn’t go on like this forever, because he kept having creative, physical and emotional “burnouts”. His brother helped him obtain an interview for retail design agency Dalziel & Pow, London. He was successful and worked there for a short period of time before they offered him a place as a junior designer. He worked on a huge range of projects and gained lots of valuable experience, working with big brands like Timberland and Primark. However, he mentioned that he never really felt 100% on board with the work he was creating – graphic design for fast fashion brands like Primark wasn’t the industry he wanted to progress in, and he said that he felt really guilty about it. He didn’t agree with the idea of “BUY BUY BUY” and “SELL SELL SELL” and he was producing work that he didn’t even like, which lead him to burnt out after burnout. He then spent a short period of time in Thailand, where he felt that he could escape from London and recharge himself emotionally and physically until he could work out what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. After 3 months in Thailand, he moved back to London and freelanced to build upon his real passion – installation. Next, he moved to Brighton, where he worked for Filthy Media carrying out branding projects for Box Park in London and type projects for Reebok.

Box Park Branding Project

From Gareth’s talk, the main points that I have taken and will apply in the future, especially his portfolio tips and tricks.

  • Collaboration is essential: widens your connections and networks with others
  • Just do it. Don’t wait for a client to ask you first
  • You don’t HAVE to go to London. 
  • You don’t NEED to work until 2am. It’s unhealthy and you will eventually reach a burnt out.
  • You don’t HAVE to work for FREE. Because it’s good for your portfolio and good exposure, don’t feel like you have to work for free.
  • You don’t NEED to be winning all the time. You don’t have to be working 24/7, there is more to life and designing. Have a balanced life!


  • Good ideas with good execution
  • Start with your CV
  • Practice what you preach – design your portfolio so that it successfully reflects your work and skills
  • Less (really is) more – it’s better to show really good projects rather than a huge quantity of mediocre ones
  • Build a narrative to allow for a natural flow during the interview process, for example for the order of projects
  • Be honest
  • Include self-initiated work in my portfolio – it shows my true passions outside of an education environment
  • Show my working, such as sketches and initial ideas as it gives the interviewer and studios how I work
  • Proofread everything – at least 3 times for everything
  • Get
  • Get feedback – portfolios are hard to do and definitely take some time
  • Keep on top of it – look at it every couple of months to maintain your level of design and so it doesn’t become a mountain of work


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