Regent’s & the creative industries with Helen Johannessen

Helen Johannessen, Visiting Lecturer at Regent’s University London for the past 9 years, shares her story about teaching at Regent’s, her experience in the creative industries as well as her involvement in the 2013 series of ‘The Apprentice’.

Teaching at Regent’s and being an entrepreneur

“I initially started off teaching Creative Behaviour/Thinking at Regent’s University London, but I’m currently Acting Course Leader for the BA (Hons) Creative Industries course and run the more ‘hands on’ project based modules.

Alongside this, I have a studio in London where I use my practical creative skills and run my own business. It is important that the students learn from people working in industry today. The Creative Industries team comprises of designers of products, graphics, web, film and producers who work across industries. This diversity and accessible skill base in itself is unique to the degree at Regent’s.”

Working in the creative industry

“My ceramic design business has been varied in its output, from small batch production to medium sized and mass produced in the UK.

Distribution includes direct selling to customers via shows or my online shop. I stock independent boutiques, high end design shops, museums and galleries to high street. I have been responsible for designing products for Yoyo Ceramics that will have generated nearly £2 million pounds worth of retail sales in the UK since setting up in 2003. I currently have 2 license deals in the UK and 1 in the USA.

I have also worked with 250+ designers as a model and mould maker in my studio for over 18 years; facilitating production from the conception stage right through to the shop shelf. I also provide a consultation service to designers from a variety of disciplines, overseeing design for production, pricing work etc.”

Working with the 2013 series of ‘The Apprentice’

“My studio was approached by ‘The Apprentice’ as one their tasks involved selling high end designer products. The film crew came to my studio a couple of times with Karen Brady and the candidates to purchase stock and re-stock. They actually sold my ceramics really well during the task. There was only a difference of £100 between the 2 teams at the end of the day.”

The Apprentice

Opportunities in the industry

“The creative industry and economy has grown significantly in recent years with more individuals setting up ‘creative ventures’ than ever before. With technologies evolving and the workplace changing, there is a wide variety of enterprises that need innovative thinkers working with them; to grow, stand out and be one step ahead – be that in marketing, events, services or design.

When I went to University, I had an open mind about where my degree would lead to. The experience I gained, along with sheer hard work and passion has enabled me to work in the creative sector for 18 years now. London is probably one of the best places to do this as the industry is an exciting and consistent network of opportunities.”

The course at Regent’s and beyond

“The course is a perfect blend of experiences that are project based individual and team creativity along with modules such as law and intellectual property, management and business elements that need consideration throughout any company. For example, in the 1st year module, Developing & Marketing a Creative Project, we look at developing innovative and creative ideas that need realistic considerations to expose them to the market and to consider the relevant audience.”

Entrepreneurial opportunities

“The dictionary definition is actually about people who take risks and innovate for economic success and return. This is a characteristic or trait that I believe can be nurtured and encouraged rather than taught theoretically.

I know that opportunities are aplenty out there; I liaise with creative people every day. The opportunities need to be found or discovered and networking is the best way to do this.

There are people who have great ideas but not the business skills to capitalise or realise them. Equally, there are great business minds that could do with some innovative and new ideas to work with.

On the BA (Hons) Creative Industries we do both; we encourage independent thinking and individuals who will go out there and find the opportunities. It’s an exciting time!”

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