Leroy Numa joined SharpFutures on a 3 month social media placement, supported by Creative Skillset, in the summer of 2015 after volunteering on a number of events at The Sharp Project. After Leroy completed his placement he said goodbye to SharpFutures and Manchester and went to University in Aberystwyth.
Then last month Leroy got in touch with SharpFutures Director Rose Marley after his first year at University and detailed his experience there as well as reflecting on his time at SharpFutures.
How’s SharpFutures doing? The website and whole new structure is looking great!! What’s new? It may seem like I forgot about SharpFutures but I didn’t forget, I promise!
Every time I get some spare time in my day I have a look whats going on over at SharpFutures.
It’s not been the easiest task because I got to Uni and pretty much fell of the face of the earth, I literally got here and didn’t know what to do in such a small town. There is hardly a creative digital sector here it’s insane and really demotivating for young upcoming talent!
First year was horrible! Yes, I was being taught film studies and creative writing which was what I wanted to do. But I have always been the type to do actual work while studying but I found nothing! I pretty much lost all hope so to speak, but then I remembered my time at SharpFutures and I thought to myself, ‘I learnt so much at SharpFutures! I’ve been teaching people such as local DJs who host their own festivals and club nights down here how to market themselves on social media!.. and all that subconsciously! I didn’t understand how they didn’t already know and do this efficiently. The major audience for them would be students! As they are the majority in this town and they are young and fit the demographic perfectly! And they are all on social media, every year new members of their target audience gather on Fresher’s pages on Facebook.. It’s too easy!
Guess my problem was I thought SharpFutures only taught me how to work in an industry environment which it did yes but it also taught me so much more at the same time which I was totally oblivious to! For example it taught me that knowledge and experience aren’t the same thing! You can read how to do something but that doesn’t mean you’ll be perfect or even half as good at the thing you just learnt you gotta try it first and turn that knowledge into experience that you can reflect on and improve from! That’s how I feel anyway. I got better at networking with people without knowing, I find myself meeting new people and asking straight away after introducing each other..:”So, what do you do? “Only noticed that when I got here it had become second nature which a lot of valuable skills needed in the Creative Digital Sector are or should be.
So I got down here and noticed there isn’t really a so called industry but more a community of local photographers, videographers and artists who are all looking for the next tourist family that want a picture taken and the next soon to be newlywed couple. So coming from our Manchester to the small seaside town called Aberystwyth was a massive skip! It was like I went back in time, and simply put… I was lost. “Where are the clients?” I was used to doing clothing line promo shoots, music videos, viral adverts, etc. I always preferred working with like-minded people as me that think outside the box. And the client offers I got here where different from what I say I specialise in, e.g. I got asked whether id be able to take pictures of someone riding their horse at a horse show, and to be the new night club photographer, etc. I didn’t turn them down but it’s not my area of expertise so I had to adapt to new areas within photography such as using flashes in dark nightclubs and trying not to get my equipment broken by drunk students.
BUT all opportunities I got down here I got from networking (which Rose countless of times made sure I understood) was a huge necessity, a must if you wanna make it anywhere in the Creative Digital Sector.
What the biggest problem is and my conclusion about this place and my experience with it is there is hardly nowhere for young talent to gain experience down here! But I also feel I took the wrong approach to be completely honest.
I came to Aberystwyth thinking I’d find some sort of work because I have experience and while that is somewhat true it is also true that there is little to no work down here at all.
What I should have done… was branch out to other cities… such as Manchester, Bristol and London where there is always something new in development!
Anyway just wanted to share this insight of moving away from one of the main Creative Digital hubs to a place that hardly has a Creative Digital sector.
And further more to enlighten any Students, New placements and Young Talent with SharpFutures in the future or present in general what it’s actually like to be a part of SharpFutures during college and getting the first-hand experience but then leave and go to Uni afterwards which I feel is a choice not many people would choose. Cause when you’re with SharpFutures as a Teen or Young Adult it’s as lucky as you get because you’re right there in the midst of the UK’s Creative Digital Sector. All you have to do is network, meet the right people, and put the extra time in after school and college to practice whatever art you want to master! And you’ll have a nice send of into the industry when you leave SharpFutures.
Going to Uni after learning that the degree you get in Uni could be meaningless it’s definitely the tougher choice because you’ll need to put as much work into Uni as you do into your career if you want both the degree and a career. So It takes careful analysis to figure out if you need to go to Uni or if SharpFutures is the right place for you to grow in today’s day and age I PERSONALLY think organisations like SharpFutures are the way forward if your career involves content production so like I you want to be a photographer in my opinion you’re better off in the hands of SharpFutures but that is my opinion!
As to what I’m gonna do in the future is I hope to establish some connections with creative people from Manchester, London, and Bristol and work with them to make some really amazing projects all alongside Uni, so a lot of travelling to do.. So I hope…
(As I know SharpFutures you guys probably have a project on the list where something like this text would fit in perfectly so if you feel this will benefit and help people or may be an interesting read I’m okay with you publishing it anywhere!)
Thank for the kind words Leroy – we look forward to seeing you soon…