Freelance Spatial Designer - Lee Valentine

Course: BA (Hons) 3D Design: Spatial & Interior Designer

Current location: Kidderminster

“The nature of freelance design is that you have to adapt. I also do photography work, website design, and school prospectus and communication design. My main passion and work is within the architectural industry, but my work is always varied.”

Tell us about your career path since graduation.

Since graduating in 2010 I have worked as a freelance designer on projects ranging from public realm art installations to sculptures, hospices, and educational buildings. I started my career working alongside Renn Associates, coming up with concepts, creating visualisations and presentations for tender and overseeing the manufacturing of public art pieces. The public art pieces ranged from digital media installations in Queen Victoria Burns Unit to large scale parallax pieces.

I then started working alongside a company called Universal Learning Ltd as a spatial designer heading up their architectural projects. Over the past few years I have designed and built several architectural projects including a large scale sixth form centre with accompanying offices and horticultural centre, a hospice and several classrooms for schools. Earlier this year we were awarded the Local Authority Building Control (LABC) Building Excellence Award for best inclusive build for the project Kemp Hospice.

Has your career path changed since graduation?

The nature of freelance design is that you have to adapt. I also do photography work, website design, and school prospectus and communication design. My main passion and work is within the architectural industry, but my work is always varied.

What is the most difficult thing which you have faced in your career?

Taking ideas and projects from concept to reality. Having a degree in spatial design I started my career designing public art pieces. This suited my skill base well which was predominantly conceptual thinking and visualisation work, a lot like at university. I was then approached to design buildings and architectural spaces for schools and education. The feeling of immense responsibility when designing a space or building for children and the public is massive, and making sure things are correct can consume you. I suppose finding a happy balance between work and social life is hard when you are freelance.

What, if anything, would you do differently if you could?

I wish that I had stayed on and undertaken a postgraduate or a degree in architecture.

What is your favourite memory of studying at Plymouth? 

The freedom to explore your own ideas and concepts; also, having weeks to work on one project/idea. Something like that doesn’t happen in the ‘real’ world!

Would you recommend undertaking a course with Plymouth University, and why?

Yes of course! Why? Well, it’s got great facilities and an excellent staff base. Also, it has a large student population so you feel part of a community within the city.