How did you get into the industry?
Soon after finishing college I was lucky enough to be hired by one of the most successful UK ad agencies outside London. They had a great list of clients including Jaguar Land Rover and Hyundai.
I worked alongside a bunch of guys who had fun and worked hard in equal measure. They had years of experience and mentored me involved in all stages of the design process, providing me with the opportunity to produce some interesting and varied work.
Where are you based now and who do you work for?
I’m based in my home studio in Stourbridge, West Midlands. I do also work onsite for various local agencies and companies.
If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?
If things had worked out differently, I may have been involved in producing, recording or performing music. Its power to move people and transcend boundaries has always fascinated me.
Can you explain your creative process? What makes it unique?
I’ll take the time to develop a very clear understanding of what the brief is asking of me before I begin. I’ll ask myself and the client lots of questions and I constantly refer to the brief throughout the project. This will streamline the design process and focus on achieving a more effective solution.
How would you describe your style?
As a commercial graphic designer, I don’t have a particular visual style. I design to the brand on which I’m working, so it’s important that I fully understand the brand, so I’ll spend quality time understanding the company ethos, their story, vision, mission, and values. Whatever I produce thereafter will visually and emotionally represent the organisation.
Which individuals do you gain inspiration from? Do you have any heroes in the industry?
There’s not really one figure that I draw inspiration from. I just keep my eyes open and take inspiration from everyone and everything around me, from posters, to adverts, book covers, shop window displays, fashion, music, nature – there’s inspiration everywhere.
What tips would you give to aspiring creatives looking for work?
Make people aware that you exist and know what you’re doing. Display your work online – Post, comment, message, and call! Nowadays It’s easier than ever to connect with people.
What tips would you give to other professionals to get more clients?
It’s essential you have a regularly updated online presence. Begin with a portfolio website – It’s easier than ever to do this with platforms like Behance and Adobe Portfolio.
Updating as you go is advisable rather than wading through gigabytes of work later, this can be challenging if you’re busy. Think about the qualities that you would look for in a creative, then apply that to your online presence – It’s your shop window!
What kind of tools/kit/software could you not do without?
Regardless of what creative work I’m doing, the idea should come first. Nothing works better to filter creative ideas and organise your thoughts than a simple notepad and pen. Being overly reliant on software and mechanical processes will only divert attention away from the idea development process.
A successful creation often hinges on the generation of creative concepts during early-stage ideation and the ability to iterate on those concepts to develop final designs.
What’s your secret to staying inspired and motivated?
Design is everywhere, so for inspiration I’ll expose myself to other creative processes and ideas, such as journaling for a month, learning chess or a different musical instrument. Staying inspired requires being attuned to the world around us.
What’s the work achievement you’re most proud of?
I think my biggest achievement is surviving in the industry for the last 25 years. I’ve experienced many ups and downs, highs, and lows, and never truly felt like ‘I’ve made it it’, however, I’ve always managed to find work.
Gaining a new client or project is a tremendous thrill, but at the same time I’m always concerned if I’ll have the means to pay the monthly bills! Nonetheless, I'm very lucky to do a job I love for as long as I have.
What is the one thing that you would change about the industry?
There’s a false sense of solidarity in the creative industry and it’s down to unpaid work. Low or unpaid work has become a seemingly unavoidable factor in entering the creative industries.
Pay seems to be an ongoing problem for creative occupations. Freelancers’ struggle to get invoices paid, the scandal of unpaid internships, and low pay because of excessive working hours, are all well-known issues in the sector.
Any websites, books or resources you would recommend?
For a commercial graphic designer like myself, I find mock-ups a great resource. They really help visualise your creative work in context – See mockupworld.co and mockups-design.com
Pinterest is also great for how it allows you to organise a lot of project ideas quickly and easily.
I’ve had a lot of new business success through LinkedIn. It provides potential clients with a quick overview of who you are, what you are looking for in a job, and most importantly, what you can do for them.