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Ey Up! Episode I: Chloe, Graphic Designer

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Chloe is the newest member of our studio team and brings a range of skills to the agency as a graphic designer. We sat down with a cup of tea and discussed her routes into graphic design, working with ‘weird boys’ and why excellence in design might not be purely down to design skills.

Q) What is your background in design?

A) I studied Fashion Communication and Promotion at university which was more like a lifestyle marketing degree. I got into graphic design through this because I had to do a lot of print design to present my dissertation and reports. My first job was a PR and Design Executive so I had to teach myself a host of design skills.

Q) How long was that process of going from testing the waters to feeling proficient as a designer?

A) After my first job, I was doing part design and part PR for two and a half years. After this, I felt confident enough that I could work solely on design because I’ve always been a creative person. 

Q) Was there any part of that process that was particularly hard despite you having a creative background?

A) Yes, learning that creativity for art’s sake is very different to creativity for design because design is fulfilling a brief, selling an idea and fitting a purpose whereas art is just expression. Learning the difference between the two throughout degrees and various courses at college was a challenge.

I believe if you’re a talented designer but can’t communicate, the job could become difficult

Q) How would you describe your approach to design?

A) Always listen carefully to the client first, and that means whether you’re doing something internally or for a paying customer. I listen to what the client has to say but to get it right, I have to learn about personality as well. For example, I worked on something a few years ago and my contact there was quite straight-laced. He made it clear that when I did the work, I didn’t need to do anything too crazy and he’d appreciate that. Other clients, on the other hand, may be more liberal in attitude towards the project. So I wouldn’t say I have an approach as such to design, it’s the bit before that I have an approach, knowing your client and trying to pre-empt what they want so I’d actually say there’s a degree of interpretation there. 

Q) What do you enjoy most about your role?

A) Working with a great team of people. I’ve always worked better with boys, I don’t know why, I just always have! That’s not to say I struggle to take a brief or work with girls but I just find it easier working with boys on a daily basis. It’s great for me working in a team of lads and I love that they’re all a bit weird — like me! What I love most about my role is working with other people to produce high quality work.

Q) Do you think that’s prevalent in any role or do you think that’s a specific feature of working in a creative team within an agency?

A) I like working with others and this certainly makes my graphic design role in this agency perfect for me because I get to work with different people. In previous roles, I’ve been on conference calls and I’ve been into meetings and presented to clients. I like collaborating to find a creative solution which is what I love about my career, whether that’s in this agency or where I’ve been previously.

Q) Where do you look for inspiration and ideas when it comes to your work?

A) Pinterest and Instagram are huge for me. The audience for Instagram is quite young, meaning there is a more youthful audience on there so you see trends emerging visually all the time. You see what people are taking photos of and uploading so if the younger generation is a forecaster of trends, most elements of design - no matter who you’re targeting - need an element of currency about them otherwise they’re not going to do well.

There's a degree of interpretation in trying to pre-empt what the client wants.

Pinterest is just full of everything that thousands of people grab from different corners of the internet which makes it very exciting. The branding content on Pinterest is brilliant. For example, I saw a photo of a shop sign in Amsterdam, and because I’m not going to visit Amsterdam soon, I won’t see that but when I click on it, Pinterest shows me thousands of similar things that visually appeal to me and I can pin them all in one place. It’s also ideal for wedding and home inspiration because it’s a place where you can collate all your different ideas.

Q) What would you say is your biggest skill and how have you sharpened it over the years?

A) Working with people, definitely. Before I moved down south [Leeds is southern compared to the North East!], my Dad advised me to change the way I spoke to people as people might not understand my strong northern accent but as soon as I got down there, people buzzed off it and my manager asked me to start going to client meetings because “people would love me and my crazy northern accent.” I still maintain to this day that this helps me maintain relationships with clients because I’m always myself and I also think this has helped me in interviews in the past because people remember my accent and the kind of person I am.

In a design sense, I’m starting to pick up the basics of animation but it’s certainly not my best skill by far. I’d say Indesign is my favourite software and print design is my ‘thing’ right now but that’s all open to change!

Q) If you think communication is your biggest skill even within a design setting, what do you think the risks are for someone who is the best designer in the world but struggles to communicate with people?

A) In my personal opinion, I don’t think you can be a good designer if you can’t communicate properly… Design is all about visual communication. I think the two have to go hand in hand because you have to know how to interpret briefs confidently. 

Q) Have you ever seen people who have the one but not the other?

A) I think if you’re great at communicating, you don’t have to be a designer but I do believe if you’re a talented designer but can’t communicate, well, the job could be difficult. I’ve seen in agencies previously where a designer’s career hasn’t progressed very far because they’re stuck in their own little bubble. While I think communication is important, one thing I absolutely hate is public speaking and even in front of my colleagues, if I was told I had to do a presentation in front of everyone - I’d feel sick. I could sit at a table with a client all day long and talk through an idea and really sell it in to them but if I had to stand up and present it, I would be pretty nervous!

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