What seems like a lifetime ago, I studied newspaper design and information graphics at college. The course was an HND (Higher National Diploma) and at the time, iMacs were first being introduced, I was lucky enough to get one, spending hours at home learning how to use design programmes after being taught the theory at college. Prior to this, I was pretty wary of technology and had started a design course because I enjoyed drawing.
I was inspired by my tutors – old industry hands who would rip your work off the wall if it wasn’t good enough (I hear they’re not allowed to do this now). It may sound like a tough school but we respected the experience of those leading us and I still remember the grounding phrase regularly used: “words and pictures…it’s simply words and pictures”.
Following this, I spent some years working at BBC Television Centre in London. Just walking into that iconic building everyday was an inspiration, as was the team I worked with. We were young designers looking for some way to make a mark, and when the breaking news came in, we were in the trenches together, helping each other and collaborating to ensure we delivered the goods. As a designer, the buzz of seeing your work online or in print is something that keeps you coming back for more and looking for the next problem to solve.
When I returned to the North East, I found myself working in education – running the course I had previously graduated from. While I never felt I had the worldly wisdom or the folklore-like experiences of the tutors that inspired me, I hoped that by showing a passion for design and creativity – along with a potential route to employment – the young designers I stood in front of would too look to seek careers in an industry where you can make a name for yourself.
I now run my own design agency where inspiration is easy to come by. Just a few days ago, I stopped for a minute to observe the team as they created reports for regional organisations, brought digital solutions to life for national companies and developed brands for notable North East attractions.
At Cargo, we’ve worked with some of the region’s most prominent business leaders and while I personally struggle to refer to myself as a ‘businessman’ or ‘entrepreneur’, having seen various approaches to leadership within a range of companies over the last ten years.
It is clear to see why the North East continues to flourish, not only in the creative industries, but across the board.
At Cargo, I feel we’ve played our part in this.I still see myself primarily as a designer, inspired by the work we produce and the clients we work with. However, my main focus now is to ensure our team have everything they need to not only to carry out their work, but to enjoy doing their work, and – hopefully – be inspired by the environment we work in which will in turn positively impact the output we produce, and inspire the future.