Design Talent Taster at The Loft


It’s a clear autumn morning in October. I’m waiting outside South Block, an artist’s collective based in Osborne Street near Glasgow’s Merchant City, for today’s Talent Taster students.

The four young people are from secondary schools across Glasgow. All have an interest in art and creative industries. They’re here for a ‘Design / Web design’ session at The Loft run by creative entrepreneur Benedetto Bordone. Benedetto is going to help the young people design their own personal brand. This is going to be great!

Talent Tasters, by MCR Pathways, are two to three hour sessions for secondary school students who want to learn more about the jobs they think they might want when they’re adults. The Talent Taster team is working with organisations like Wheatley Group, the Citizens Theatre, The Loft and many, many more to deliver these sessions. The aim is to create a spark in the young people that will make them want to stay on in school, gain qualifications and get the job (and life) of their dreams.


Back to the Loft…

We all make our way upstairs to the airy, bright studio where Benedetto and his team work. They work with organisations like Alexander Dennis, Percepta, worldwide software companies, whisky distillers and global automotive companies on their brands, websites, publications and videos. The team of 5 does the work of 20 but they’ve set aside the whole morning to work with our Young Glasgow Talent to help them find, grow and use their talent. We can’t thank them enough.

Benedetto first takes the group of young people on a tour of South Block, showing the youngsters what a creative work space is like. It’s an amazing place – there’s even a ping pong table.

Then he pairs each of the young people up with one of his designers: Reiss, Aiste, Charlie and Adèle. They’re given an introduction to the creative process from mood boards to finished products.

It’s amazing to watch. The young people come out of their shells, start chatting, interacting, engaging, having fun. This is what we at MCR Pathways have always known. Young people just blossom when they get one to one attention from someone who cares. That’s why mentoring works.

The personal branding exercise starts with a questionnaire. What’s your name? What’s your favourite colour? What’s special about you? What logos can you think of? What are your hobbies? This is followed by a creative exercise as the young people start to design their logos based on who they are. Suddenly the room is quiet. You can hear the scratching of pencils. Quiet laughing. Intense discussions between the designers and young people. Everyone is smiling.


It’s time to fire up the Macs – we’re going to use Adobe Illustrator to make the young people’s sketches real. There’s some amazing, really inspired work here. We’ve got one young man whose personal brand is his glasses and hairline. It looks amazing. A young woman on the Taster has created a flowing, stylised version of her first initial – K – cutting through a bevelled rectangle. It’s really beautiful. The designers scan in the sketches by the young people and start work on making the finished, professionally-designed product.

You can see a light in the young people’s eyes – they’re watching the designers closely, taking it all in. It’s such a buzz for everyone. Their designs are becoming real.

And all too quickly, it’s over, but the young people have something great to take back with them – their own personal brand – and a more realistic view of what it means to be a designer. You get the feeling some lives might have been changed for the better today.

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