Baseline Shift: my experience


Baseline Shift is a real job that involves a group of students collaborating to organise weekly lectures given by professional designers during autumn and summer term. These talks enable students of the Typography and Graphic Communication department to gain insight into the design industry and potential career options after graduation. The team held multiple responsibilities such as hosting lectures, writing blogs, and creating weekly printed material and social media posts for students of the department to be reminded about the upcoming guest lectures.

Baseline Shift 2022/23

During the Summer holidays of first year, this Real Job was announced for students in my year group to become involved with the Baseline Shift team. From reading the description I was adamant on joining the team. Having the opportunity to network with designers in the industry and working alongside my cohort were the main reasons I wanted to join the team; hoping the experience would enhance my skills that would become applicable once I graduated. At the start, I was introduced to my team leaders comprising of Sara Nogueira Pérez and Adam Powell, and students in my cohort, Mia Bryan, and Habibah Begum.

The Baseline Shift team 2022/23 outside department with book cover designer, David Pearson

After becoming acquainted, we began organising everyone’s primary role as part of the team, which lead me to take responsibility for blog posts and copywriting. This role played to my strengths, hoping to show the team that I could keep quality in all written aspects of the job. During the summer holidays it was my responsibility to produce a new logo for Baseline shift. After Habibah’s choice of the typeface Montserrat, I created a design that reflects InDesign’s Baseline shift function icon, replacing it with the team’s name. This was our brand identity throughout my time as a member of the team.

The Baseline Shift logo I designed, used for all promotional material

This first year of baseline shift encouraged me to engage with my team and being responsible for the roles I performed weekly. Blog writing was the main responsibility I had throughout second and third year, ensuring that blogs could be posted weekly. However, this was not always the case, as coursework and deadlines would collide with my role on the team, resulting in some blogs being posted later than expected. Managing to allocate time to this real job was the largest struggle during this period, as second year work began taking priority of my time. On occasions, the team would help me to write the blog posts by providing notes that could be used later for the blog development. Performing mine and other’s distributed roles allowed me to experience range of tasks that are applicable to designing in the industry. Working every week on this real job was very rewarding, being able to see the fruits of my labour each week through successful lectures with professional designers.

The job allowed me to develop a range of skills that I would not normally say I was confident with. Designing the Baseline Shift logo and writing weekly blogs helped me to further develop my ability to take criticism and continuing to pursue the best results for my work. The hosting role was intimidating for me before engaging with it later in my experience, this was because public speaking in front of a lecture theatre was out of my comfort zone. However, with preparation and support from the team I was able to become more comfortable with public speaking for in-person and online lectures. Receiving feedback for how we performed and the quality of the lectures was always a supportive reminder that the team benefitted the learning of all students.

Baseline Shift 2023/24

Becoming one of the leaders of Baseline Shift was exciting for me, as it was now my opportunity to see whether I could efficiently lead a team. Becoming leaders in third year meant that two second years would join the team to aid in Baseline Shift consistently performing tasks each week without hinderances. Tilly Dobson and Amber Jones joined the team in the summer of 2023, helping us throughout our final year on the team.

One of the most valuable ideologies I learnt was that building a rapport with team members is a main component to whether the job runs smoothy each week, with members needing to communicate effectively to ensure the future lectures happen successfully. Because the team managed to bond quickly, working with deadlines became less stressful as communication was easy. But, on several occasions members would forget to remind the team of other commitments and issues that would affect job roles and planned events. To overcome this, the team would construct new schedules to adapt to these slight hinderances, which in the end enabled the team to remain stable whilst organising the weekly lectures.

I have many favourite guest speakers, but one of my personal favourite guests was Malcolm Garret during my first year of Baseline Shift. Being an icon for graphic design in the music industry, I was amazed to hear about Malcolm’s experiences and thinking behind his wide array of design work. After the talks I would frequently chat to the speakers about their careers, hearing the guests share similar interests and providing me with insight into the design industry. Having the opportunity to talk to professional designers is always a beneficial experience, especially when this opportunity happens every week with designers from different career paths and design jobs. In addition, this allowed me to gain connections on LinkedIn which has become valuable to me when searching for potential jobs after graduation.

The Baseline Shift 2023/2024 team with Sky Creative designer Aanand Tank, our final in-person Baseline Shift session

Another perk of joining the team was organising events in the department for when speakers would arrive for their scheduled talk. For example, with the arrival of the famous video game typographer Toshi Omagari, several typeface-making workshops had to be organised. Arranging rooms for the event was satisfying once completed as students engaged in the activities the team produced. A fond memory of mine was helping to setup an evening event that included arcade games and party games. Playing Mortal Kombat in the department was definitely a highlight for me!

Two of my course mates and I playing games at the Toshi Omagari Pixel Party

Final thoughts

Being part of the Baseline Shift team was one of the best decisions I had made for my future whilst studying the Typography and Graphic Communication course. This real job is one of the most rewarding amongst the selection that is offered to students on the course. The range of roles that members undertake, along with the amazing designers you are able to contact and network with are only some of the benefits to being part of the Baseline Shift team. If I was asked whether partaking in this real job would be worth it, it would be a definite yes. Any student willing to give their time to help run Baseline Shift will find it useful to their future career. I would recommend this job to any student looking to develop their skills towards professional practice and other applicable knowledge gained from two years of experience on the team.