1) How many projects do you work on in a week?
Depends. My last commission (freelance for Siegel+Gale) I worked exclusively on all aspects of one very large scale job for the best part of a year and a half. At DD & CD level I was involved in all jobs in the studio so my time was spread very thinly but in very concentrated doses. If it’s a well run studio with decent clients and budgets you’ll probably work on one or two jobs in a typical week.
2) Is there anything you know now that you wish you knew earlier?
1. Don’t take people at their word, always get it down in writing, especially contractual stuff both with clients and companies/or people you will work for.
2. Remember it’s just work, a way of making an honest (and decent) living – there have been times when work became my life, to the detriment of other as areas of my life. I listened to a great interview on desert island discs recently whereby someone explained life’s three core areas to get in balance: Work, Family and Society… I think most people at some point in their life will have payed more attention to one than the other.
3) Other than design what other things would I expect to work on as a designer?
You can work on going to gigs, shows, exhibitions, theatre, eating well, doing creative stuff outside of design world. Try learning a musical instrument, video, animation, or writing stories, writing a blog, collecting shit, travelling, seeking culture. All the stuff that feeds inwards.
Professionally, you will be working on managing your time, developing your writing skills (client emails and copywriting), same with your typography, art direction, presentation and hand skills; learning to craft and the craft, proof-reading (developing an eagles eye for mistakes), keeping up-to-date with latest technology, fashions, trends and what the competition is up to; constantly learning more and more about your clients and the work they do and the difficulties they face (you’ll be better equipped to help them). Staying on-top, and staying creative (re-inventing yourself) year-on-year from the moment you step into the profession. You really never stop being a ‘designer’.
4) How did you get your first design job?
I rang around as many Manchester agencies as possible (almost all of them I think) and arranged interviews, collected names, made tick-lists, met lots of people, made as many contacts as possible; eventually someone said you should go and see so-and-so, I did, and so-and-so gave a job on the spot. That was in the middle of a recession also. The break will come if you really want it and don’t give in.
5) Do you feel as a designer it is better to be an all rounder or work in a specific field?
Master or Jack? I like being in an all round (midfield) position, so when I need the skills of a master (i.e. stuff I know I cannot personally do) then I will employ their skills. An all rounder is easier to employ I think and better to work with; all round skills naturally lead to leadership positions within agencies and greater control and creative direction of the projects as a whole.
6) What is your favorite piece of design work and why?
My favourite piece of design work I’ve been lucky enough to have worked on was the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan simply because of the team of brilliant people involved (including client side) and the great work that many dedicated creative minds can produce – we pushed many boundaries for FIFA and in the world of sport branding on a global level. View the work here:
2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan
I’m a big fan if the Third Reichs design system and branding, I find studying it a constant source of inspiration and see it everywhere in modern monolithic branding structures for corporates. During a recent trip to India I furthered my knowledge and understanding of the Swastika. More on that here:
My favourite piece of design work out there currently is not ‘design’ related as such, but it is very well ‘designed’ and the ‘playability’ is phenomenal, it is a game app (iPad and iPhone) called Pro Snooker (a game I love) and is one piece of the technological puzzle that has matched the real thing and makes you a better ‘player’ of the game as a result, it’s the only game I’ve not felt geekish or felt like I’m wasting valuable time that I could be doing other things, but then again I am travelling at the moment and my mind is far away from the design vortex that a working life in the creative industry brings. Remember inspiration can come from anywhere.
Keep your eyes peeled, your ears to the ground, and keep your mind open; know when to fight, know when not to fight, and you’ll go far.
Questionnaire by Laura-Marie Saul