I’ve worked at some really cool places.
I attended the UK’s oldest art school at The University of Derby and graduated with a First Class Honours Degree, but before completing that I took an internship with Plazm Media Co-operative in Portland, Oregon. At Plazm I got my first taste of magazine design, on their self-published arts & culture quarterly (which is now held in the permanent collection at New York MOMA). I also got involved with their type foundry, Plazm Fonts, and through their design agency I worked with such prestigious clients as Nike, MTV, Lucasfilm and Weiden & Kennedy.
Plazm taught me the value of craft in design. The best ideas in the world need to be executed with care and attention to detail, or they will still fall flat. Graphic design is an obsessive business.
After graduating, I moved to Scotland and wanted to work more in magazine design. Luckily, I arrived just as the Scottish arts Council decided to fund literature for the first (and only) time. I took a job as one half of the design team on Product, a new arts & culture glossy intended to help set Scotland’s creative scenes on an equal footing with the London establishment.
It didn’t work, of course, but it was a glorious failure. In the process, I learned a lot about the practicalities of publishing and the rush of a regular distribution deadline.
There were quiet periods in the publishing rhythm of a monthly, so I took a second job with Iso Design, who specialised in motion graphics and typography for the screen. With Iso, I created title sequences for television shows, graphic identity systems for film production companies, and an animation that was projected onto Edinburgh’s Castle Rock for the Millennium Hogmanay celebrations.
My next job was longer term, with a Glasgow graphic design company called Pointsize Associates. This was my first taste of traditional graphic design, in a structured agency with long etablished client relationships. We worked on packaging, corporate identities, annual reports and brochures.
I learned how to manage clients, how to commission freelancers, how to use photographers, illustrators and copywriters … I learned a lot about print production and the skill of specifying paper stocks.
Eventually I left because the company was shrinking instead of expanding. It has now disappeared completely, so I think I did the right thing.