NCFE helps meet the creative needs of the future

One of the North East’s leading creatives has backed NCFE’s Technical Award in Art and Design.

Darren Richardson, co-founder of creative communications agency Gardiner Richardson, said the Level 1 / 2 Award was an important contributor towards ensuring the UK develops the creative skills needed to remain competitive.

“The UK plays a huge role in the worldwide creative industry, we are renowned internationally – in music, in fashion and in art,” he said,

“The creative industry contributes significantly to this country’s gross domestic product which is why it’s so important that we recognise creativity as a vital skillset for the future.”

Darren set up the internationally successful Gardiner Richardson in 1998, along with co-founder Lucy Gardiner.

The Newcastle based agency now employs 27 people and offers services in design, digital, social, PR  and content. It works with regional, national and international brands including The Royal Institute of British Architects, Metro Tyne & Wear and Egger.

Darren is also Vice Chair of Trustees of the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts and is an Associate Member of Chartered Society of Designers.

Darren’s credibility within the creative industry speaks for itself and it’s fantastic to hear that he is passionate about the value of vocational education and in particular, this qualification.

Darren said: “It’s vital that the education system continues to develop vocational courses to meet the creative demands of industry now and in the future.

“Creativity doesn’t just mean being a great artist! Creativity supports big thinking, it supports positive communication, it supports being inquisitive. NCFE’s V Cert is a modern qualification for modern life.”

Drawing upon his years of experience and wealth of knowledge, Darren offers some fantastic advice to young people: “Believe in yourself and follow your passion. Through working hard, and unlocking your talent, you can turn that passion into a career, commercialise your skills and do a job that you really love.”

This advice reflects how Darren built a successful career in an industry that he loves. He discovered at school that he had a skill in painting, driving him to complete A Levels in Art and Design and Technology, after initially struggling with dyslexia . He then completed a Foundation Degree and then a Degree in Graphic Design.

After pursuing creative opportunities in London, working for award-winning agencies of varying sizes, Darren came to a ‘sliding doors’ moment; go to San Francisco to work or return to Northumberland. Upon returning to the North East, Gardiner Richardson was born.

Darren is determined to play his part in nurturing the creative talent of the next generation in the region, both through his work at Gardiner Richardson and other avenues.

It’s with this in mind that Darren, through his work with the Sorrell Foundation, holds masterclasses on Saturday mornings for learners, to allow them to experience what work is like in a design studio; showing them how to brief in work, come up with creative concepts and pitch ideas, gaining skills similar to those achieved as part of the NCFE V Cert in Art and Design qualification.

Darren said: “It’s great to see young people express themselves and gain confidence through the masterclasses. That’s why I would say this qualification is important. It gives people with varying learning styles a way to access the arts and express themselves differently in a way they know how.”

V Certs are high-quality technical alternatives to GCSEs for 14-16 year olds. Many of our popular subject areas will benefit from the combined Level 1 / 2 V Cert model, which provides schools with a range of benefits, including the option to teach classes of mixed ability.

The NCFE V Cert in Art and Design is designed to provide learners with the skills, knowledge and understanding of the applied study of good art and design practices and an understanding of working in the sector.

Find out more about our new combined Level 1 / 2 Technical Award in Art and Design, including potential career paths, on our website.

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