It’s been a big year for podcasts on Lecture in Progress. Over the past 365 days, we’ve put 48 creatives in front of the mic – everyone from game designers and VFX artists to copywriters, coders, strategists and more. By the end of it, it’s safe to say we were left stewing with some serious job envy! Asking our interviewees to look back over their career journeys so far, they shared early stories of starting out, challenges encountered, favourite projects and essential learnings.
With so many fascinating guests and downright motivational anecdotes, we’ve put together a playlist for easy listening, and collected some of our highlights. So whether you’re travelling, or simply have a little bit of extra time on your hands over this Christmas period, grab some headphones and treat your ears to some of the brilliant stories we’ve uncovered this year.
The 2018 Lecture in Progress Playlist
Cait Oppermann, photographer
Who? We caught up with New York-based photographer Cait while she was in London on a visit from the States. She brought with her a wealth of brilliant advice and practical guidance that left us bowled over in this extended, 22-minute episode.
What to expect: A glimpse into shooting for sports, using personal projects to pave a path to commercial work and some stellar tips on self-promotion: “Make yourself available to the world. No one is going to come to you if you don’t make yourself known.”
Things to listen out for: Cait recounts an early commission to photograph a young, millennial republican for Bloomberg Businessweek, and being forced to find a new location. Walking into a nearby Hilton Hotel in New York, “we just looked like we knew what we were doing. If you do something with confidence, people really believe you. I’ve tried to live that way in how I work; if you need to get something done, you do whatever it takes – ethically – to get it done.”
Who? We were super-excited to meet Alex, the cartoonist behind the massively popular Webcomic Name. A deceptively simple, three-panel comic, it features a blobby pink character, and always ends with the phrase, ‘Oh no’.
What to expect: Having graduated with a degree in English, Alex tells us about his wayward path into the world of comics, and what it’s like having your audience as your client.
Things to listen out for: The (sadly) planned demise Alex has in store for Webcomic Name and its pink blobby hero.
Who? Something of an icon in the field of graphic design, British-born designer and typographer Jonathan is renowned, among many other things, for his longstanding collaboration with the late David Bowie.
What to expect: Alongside talking about a love of music and the ‘magic’ of record covers, Jonathan shares some essential advice on everything from portfolios to side projects, and starting out in the industry: “Ignorance can be a good thing in your career. You can’t control what people think, or how a job will come to you. All you can do is be passionate and do your thing.”
Things to listen out for: Jonathan describes getting a game-changing call from Bowie, and describes his first job as a waiter in a Malaysian restaurant in Croydon, and dropping a lobster on a customer’s lap.
Who? Still only two years into her career in advertising, Shannie has already co-founded her own agency, been invited to speak at numerous industry events, and was recently named one of BIMA’s top 100 talents of 2018. She is the chief talent officer of The Elephant Room and GUAP magazine’s talent and brand manager.
What to expect: Shannie talks us through the incredible fast-track into industry, when the former CEO of the agency where she was interning approached her to start a business together. She discusses the importance of growing a solid network, and how finding your voice is so important to progress. She also shares her thoughts on making the most of an internship: “Play to your strengths. You can’t take away the things you already know, and the cultural conversations you’re having with your friends. These things are invaluable to a company.”
Things to listen out for: Originally from Birmingham, we hear how Shannie started out as a dancer, before becoming interested in marketing through hosting immersive, cross-disciplinary events.
Who? Natalie is the V&A’s curator of digital design – one of the most fascinating and unusual job roles we’ve featured on the podcast. She explains the complexities of collecting digital artefacts, along with advice on social media, being culturally aware, and the importance of being open about stress.
What to expect: Natalie talks about the V&A’s Rapid Response Collecting, which exhibits everything from Katy Perry-branded eyelashes to 3D-printed guns and a hat worn at the Women’s March in Washington, 2017. “We see this as digital design object, rather than fashion object,” she says, “because it was disseminated through online platforms.”
Things to listen out for: An explanation of what it means to have ‘curator hands’, and more about Natalie’s intriguing personal project, Haunted Machines.
Who? Creative director Naresh is Pentagram’s first advertising and communications partner, and co-founder of non-profit public service Do The Green Thing. Joining Pentagram in 2010, Naresh has worked on everything from YouTube’s debut ad campaign to creating Pentagram’s first-ever music video.
What to expect: Naresh talks to us about how being inspired by music, the relationship between writing and graphic design and how creativity can make a cause visible. With a belief that creative thinking has the ability to shine a spotlight on important issues, he also explains why idealism and pragmatism as two essential skills for creatives.
Things to listen out for:
A discussion around Naresh’s side projects – including everything from writing observational poems under the pseudonym of Henry Ponder to most recently returning to his early love of music, and writing his own LP.
Who? Emma’s varied work has seen her become a bestselling author and reach millions of people with her blockbuster podcast CTRL ALT DELETE. An impassioned advocate for flexible, varied and self-sufficient working, she’s come to refer to this approach as the Multi-hyphenate Method – the title of her second book, released earlier this year.
What to expect: While multi-hyphenate working isn’t a totally new concept, Emma tells us what it means to her, its relevance today and how to make it work for you: “You can’t really be one thing anymore. I didn’t make that rule, and I don’t necessarily think it’s a good thing all the time, to be honest. Half of me is saying, ‘Look at this amazing lifestyle’ and half of me is saying ‘Look at the times we’re in. This is a necessity as much as it is a lifestyle choice.’”
Things to listen out for: We hear about Emma’s slow start after graduating, when she says she scoured the web for jobs from 9am to 6pm, from her mum’s kitchen. Finally landing a job in PR, she tells us how launching a blog helped with her next step, how her podcast came about, and her approach to productivity.
Who? We ventured to London-based production company Strange Beast in February to catch up with animator and director Anna, where she was working on her latest project.
What to expect: Anna spoke to us about her process, the importance of self-belief as a young woman in the industry, and how she first got a foot in the door. She also imparts some stellar tips to any budding filmmakers on staying focused: “Don’t look at too many other people’s work. You can get lost scrolling on Instagram, become overwhelmed and therefore paralysed. Sometimes the only way to work out what you like is to turn everything on airplane mode, and allow yourself the space and quiet to start making.”
Things to listen out for: From discussing sexuality to young peoples’ views on politics, Anna discusses her fun, relatable approach to serious matters. This includes bringing gossiping cartoon genitals to life, and capturing a sinking Theresa May in a jar of mayonnaise.
Leyya Sattar, creative and co-founder of The Other Box
Who? In this recent episode, we chat to creative and co-founder of The Other Box, Leyya Sattar, who talks openly and honestly about everything from her biggest challenges, to her ongoing work to challenge inequality in the creative sector.
What to expect: Leyya’s story is testament to the incredible power of role models in the industry. She tells us how American TV show Ugly Betty’s Wilhelmina Slater first sparked a desire to go into design: “Seeing a woman of colour in such a position of power made me feel like I wanted to be a creative director.” But once she was working in the industry, Leyya tells us how her frustration at the lack of representation led to establishing her own platform alongside copywriter Roshni Goyate. She explains why she feels the movement towards greater diversity has been able to accelerate and her vision for the future of the workplace.
Things to listen out for: Leyya’s openness made this podcast a real eye-opener on the impacts of overworking and burnout, after overcoming pneumonia. “My biggest learning was that it was from a fear of missing out on things. I said yes to everything, and wasn’t very strategic.”
Who? Rik is the founder of SuperHi. Having moved to New York a few years ago, he has grown SuperHi from the ground up in a new country, and it now services students all over the globe.
What to expect: Recording the podcast from New York, Rik told us about his introduction to coding, and why he felt the need to start accessible courses aimed at creatives. While he’s quick to admit that learning to code isn’t essential, he tells us why understanding the basics is important for those working in digital design: “If you want to learn to paint, you need to know what paint does and how it works. It’s useful to know what your medium is.”
Things to listen out for: After growing up in Manchester, Rik recounts the journey that took him from a degree in Maths at Durham University – and how he learnt that wearing a suit to a creative studio isn’t standard practice.
Who? Radiating with enthusiasm and energy for her work, we met Nicole in July earlier this year. An inspiring speaker for platforms including TEDx, multitalented Nicole is also the founder and curator of the annual Black Girl Festival and art project Unmasked Women.
What to expect: Often balancing multiple projects at one time, Nicole tells us how she’s managed to juggle passion projects with full-time work. We also hear how she went from a degree in product design to carving out her own unique path.
Things to listen out for: Looking back on how differently she saw things when she was just leaving university, Nicole imparts her thoughts for others who might also be questioning following the ‘right’ path: “Don’t panic. Those traditional routes aren’t the only way. There’s just so much more you can do. Don’t focus on what you think a job wants from you, but what you can bring to the job. Those skills make you the person you are; they should be celebrated. And have fun with it.”
Who? Independent game designer, artist, lecturer and activist Phoenix was born and raised in the States, before moving to the UK in 2015. Now working at Goldsmiths, she has established her own MA programme entitled ‘Independent Games and Playable Experience Design’.
What to expect: A great introduction into the ever-expanding world of gaming, Phoenix tells us about Code Liberation – an organisation she co-founded to teach women, non-binary and girl-identifying people to code. Plus, she shares tips for finding your way without a formal training, and the trials of making your way as an independent designer. “As an artist you’re not taking a ‘different path’, you’re getting a machete and hacking down trees to make your way through a jungle.”
Things to listen out for: For anyone less familiar with the expansive world of game design, Phoenix fills us in on the current landscape, the essential skills needed to produce a game, and funding options for independent projects.
Who? We met Mundial editor-in-chief Dan Sandison at the ModMag London event in December. Launched in 2014 as an alternative football publication, Dan soon attracted a huge and loyal readership, and now runs the publication alongside an agency, with a full-time team of eight people.
What to expect: Dan shares the inspiring story that took him from factory work and writing as a hobby, to working in Hing Kong, to eventually running his own successful company in London.
Things to listen out for: Dan tells us how he initially thought his dreams were unrealistic, “I always loved magazines and consumed them, but they seemed like this far-off crazy thing that people from London did. I applied for internships and didn’t get them; I just went back home and worked with my dad in a factory for two or three years, and wrote as a hobby, because I enjoyed doing it.”