What were your first jobs?
When I left university, I applied for a junior art direction role at a ‘customer engagement agency’ (these guys loved their buzzwords) with over a hundred employees. Went to an interview, showed them my stuff, didn’t get the job but somehow managed to get a junior designer role instead. It was ok. The people were lovely, I learned some cool design stuff but the work was a bit soul destroying.
After a year of working there, I moved on to work as a digital designer at Atomic Smash, this time as an employee of four people. Here, I really felt like part of a team, contributing meaningful suggestions and ideas to benefit the company. I was in this role for almost two years, gaining a much better understanding of how a business worked as a whole from sitting in kick-off meetings, creating wireframes, designing sites, and getting to know the clients and their needs. It was great and if my illustration career never kicked off, I would happily still be there.
What in particular helped you the most at the start of your career?
I owe a lot to Alan Smith, from WithPrint. Not only did he teach me a huge amount about printing and modern processes back at university, but he also later commissioned me to make a series of promotional posters that he sent out to a large selection of agencies. This was a big deal at the time as I’d never been exposed to so many creative businesses in one hit and it really helped break the ice with loads of them.
And, of course, I owe a lot to my tutor Ashley Potter. Not only did he teach me a lot about the industry but he also helped me land a couple jobs after leaving by putting my name forward to various clients. Through him, I worked with the National Marine Aquarium creating an illustrated map of their interior, and also drawing a three metre wide mural of Marie Curie at UTC Plymouth.