The man in black
My first design job was in-house at a liquor company in New Zealand. I remember the marketing manager asking why I always wore all-black, and I earnestly told him it was because I didn’t want the reflection of my clothing to interfere with my screen.
It was also at this job that I kicked off my second career in sending regrettable emails. We were working with another company and someone there emailed me directly to request a change that I, The Designer, didn’t agree with. I thought I was forwarding the email to a colleague to complain about how stupid this person was (not a great move itself), but I replied all. Twelve years later I still struggle to look people in the eye.
– Chris Chapman, design director at Droga5, London
The token Brit
My first job was with Danish superstars, Stine Hein and Felix Nielsen at Relax, We Are The Good Guys. I was the token Brit in an office full of Danes in Berlin. I joined as a digital designer, but Felix really got me into coding. I was there a year and I learned so much. Unfortunately the agency as it was closed down, but they really are ‘good guys’, and we’re still in touch three years later.
– Jack Wild, developer, London
The first creative hire
I was the first creative hire at the mighty Work Club, and it was my first creative job. There was a set of bleachers in the centre of the office with a massive PA system. There was a Bichon Frisé who got a cease and desist letter from the Royal Mail. We framed it. There were chartered yachts during the summer and I got a singing Elvis telegram one Valentine’s day.
At first, I had no fucking idea what was going on, but seemed to get rewarded for writing stuff that made me laugh and figured it out from there. I got to make work that I wouldn’t have been allowed to make anywhere else, and then they made me creative director. It was the best postgraduate education any young messer could wish for.
– L.A. Ronayne, creative director at Stink Studios, London
The shopaholic designer
My first job was at a small brand and digital design consultancy in central London called Structure. I started as a junior designer and worked there for six years. My first pay packet was in the region of £400 per week, paid weekly and on time, which was great for someone starting out. The studio was based on Carnaby Street so it wasn’t hard to spend it all before it hit my account though – from memory I purchased adidas Stan Smiths and Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars with that first payment.
– Craig Jackson, designer, London
The carpet fitter
I was an apprentice carpet-fitter for my dad (he was a fireman but a carpet-fitter on the side). I was so terrible at it that I was eventually sacked. By my own father. I still can’t quite believe it! He just suddenly announced one day, “Son, you’re really not cut out for this.” And that was it – on the job scrap heap. I was actually secretly elated.
– Jimmy Turrell, creative director, Newcastle
The casting assistant
Once I left Central Saint Martins, I assisted Madeleine Ostlie for a few months – as a second assistant and casting for her agency AAMO. Although I worked out I didn’t want to do styling, I started to meet more people within the industry, and Madde gave me lots of advice that gave me the confidence to plunge into my career without worrying about whether I’d been to uni or not.
– Ronan McKenzie, photographer, London