Firstly, can you tell us a bit about the internship itself and how you found the experience?
In January, I had an interview with a photographer that my uni tutor, Steph, suggested I reach out to. But that photographer actually recommended that I approach creative director Harris Elliott instead, saying that he was a better fit for me. After viewing Harris’ website and projects, I agreed.
We started working on a project of his that was influenced by Nigerian culture, which was perfect. I’m Nigerian, so I had a lot of cultural insight to offer. It was a reciprocal working partnership; I learnt a lot about design and the industry from Harris. I also got to do research for an exhibition, and the content was everything I’m into. I may have not been paid as an assistant, but I gained a lot of invaluable skills. It definitely would have been better if I was paid, however.
What made you decide to have this conversation with Harris?
The topic of unpaid internships has been widely discussed, especially now in these precarious times. We were also taught about getting paid fairly for work on DPS (Diploma in Professional Studies at LCC). So when the New Agency project [a student-run publication and conference in September 2020] began, it just seemed a natural fit, as I was the only one who had done unpaid work, and we wanted to have a discussion about exploitative internships.
What were your biggest learnings about internships after talking to Harris?
I learnt that the creative industry – at every level – is made up of artists taking on projects or creating projects for themselves. Each one comes with with different levels of experience, networks and budgets. You’re either making work for yourself or for other people. Talking to Harris definitely demystified this hierarchical system – something I already assumed the industry was made up of.