Inspiration

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Phillip Powdrill's Love for Learning

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Luck is an important factor at any given time in life. There is always a certain degree of planning ahead, but you would be surprised by the amount of sheer luck that is needed to actually break through. Now, you could argue that opportunities don't fall from the sky and you must work to create your own luck. And this is where senior creative Phillip Powdrill comes in.

Phillip was lucky enough to be offered a job straight out of university thanks to a digital firm noticing his work, but what he doesn't say is how much hard work was needed in order for that luck to materialise. And Phillip is certainly a hard worker; a lover of learning, technology, software, creativity and everything that can help him become constantly better at what he does.

For this Member Spotlight, we've had the chance to have a chat with Phillip to discuss his past career and future dreams, including his hope that the creative industry could welcome more learners aboard in a future not too far away.

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How did you get into the industry?

I've always loved drawing and sketching but I think having an interest in software early on (my brother and I made a clip-art stuffed magazine on MS Publisher while at primary school) led me into studies which progressively became less about illustration and more about graphic design.

I took a break from studying to do some volunteer work abroad, and ended up designing some artwork for my friend's band. I think that was a key decider for me. A few years later, at my end of year show for my HND in Graphic Communication, I was fortunate enough to have my work spotted by the CD of a local digital firm, which led to my first 'proper' job in design. I'm now based in Leicester and work for local agency ZZ Creative.

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If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?

I was really into traditional print at one point, screen printing and etching. Probably something along those lines or maybe even photography. But I think I'd still be a maker.

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Can you explain your creative process?

It really depends on the project but for me research is key. Often briefs don't give you the full picture but a mixture of asking the right questions, and investigating the sector at hand often uncovers the best solution. Not settling for your first idea and trying to expand concepts as far as they'll go also leads to a better result.

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How has technology affected the way you work (if at all)?

I use design software for most elements of my job, so it's essential for me. I'm one of those terrible geeks who watches the Adobe MAX conferences. Learning new and better ways to do things is amazing.

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What’s your secret to staying inspired and motivated?

I try and find inspiration everywhere, on sites like Creativepool and Behance, but also in the books, signage and packaging I come across day to day. I'm trying to limit my social media intake at the minute but Instagram is fantastic if you follow the right creatives. Motivation comes from putting myself in the customers place and trying to create what I think they'd want (or need) to see.

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What’s the work achievement you’re most proud of?

Most recently the Light As A Feather project (featured on Creativepool). I had only recently joined COBA and had to come up with a campaign to showcase their anti-fatigue matting at a key health and safety event. Despite being a somewhat sterile sector I discovered the brand had a definite irreverent side.

My concept featuring burly labourers who felt ‘Light as a Feather’ once they stepped onto the anti-fatigue matting (and into a tutu) highlighted the mattings properties while being striking and eye catching. The campaign ended up being featured in industry press and three major events across Europe, and had fantastic results with the global MD calling it their most successful exhibition so far.

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How do you recharge away from the office?

I've recently got into running which definitely helps clear your head after a busy day, while during the summer doing a little gardening with a beer in hand is always a winner.

What advice would you give to other aspiring creatives looking for work?

Always be making and learning. You never know where that self-initiated piece or new skill could lead.

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What’s your one big hope for the future of the creative industries?

In Britain there was huge investment in the arts after WW2, and the result was an explosion of incredible art and music that changed the world. Since then funding has gradually been cut back, I'd love to see that investment return and inspire more people to create.

If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?

I was fortunate enough to be given a chance to get a job in design straight out of studying. Many of my classmates weren't so lucky and only a few work in design today. I'd like to see creative leaders and businesses supporting learners more and giving them the opportunity for a career in design.

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