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Afterlife Talk – Lee Fairbrother

This week’s afterlife talk was by Lee Fairbrother, who is creative director at Accelerate Digital¬†design agency.


Lee has worked in the design industry for just under 10 years and as well as being creative director at Accelerate Digital, Lee also worked with the British Olympian Association for the London Olympics 2012 campaign – Our Greatest Team – he is the creator of Pride The Lion, the official Team GB mascot.

For his afterlife talk, Lee left us with 25 brilliant tips for preparing to begin work in the creative industry:

  • Make a plan –¬†on what you need to do, your career and where you want to go – what do you want to do? Plans can change – learn to pivot and change with your plan and always have a backup plan.
  • Your portfolio is your life story – who are you? It needs to be exciting, new and feel different, make sure to include your personality. It needs to scream, “You’ve got to meet me!”
  • Know the industry – there are lots of different kinds of agencies. The main 4: advertising, brand, digital, print. Research the agencies – know their work, their creative directors, and who’s winning the awards. Who’s your competition and who do you want to work for?
  • Never stop learning – read everything! Do tutorials, watch videos, go to meet-ups, store knowledge and share knowledge.
  • Understand the difference between an idea and an execution – an idea is a strategic driven concept; the execution is the creative output of the idea. You can’t have one without the other. Always have a strategy and always create with purpose.
  • Focus on the benefit – how is this going too change the end users’ life. For example, if it’s swimming trunks, how is going to make them swim faster? – What is the purpose? What is the point?
  • Never underestimate the power of simplicity – keep it simple, stupid.
  • Scamping/sketching = strength – attachment.
  • ‘Pretype’, then prototype, then build – ‘Pretotyping’ = faking it before making it. Test out your idea before diving in and creating it – does it even work? Prove that it does.
  • Good is the enemy of great – don’t settle for ‘good’; ‘good’ is just average.
  • Build a network and meet other creatives – go to meet-ups, ask creatives for advice, speed date creatives, use LinkedIn, stay in touch with the people around you.
  • Find your mentor, today! – they can give you another point of view and opinion, plus they’ll open you up to a whole wider network as well. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
  • Get yourself out there – get your foot in the door – brand yourself: be on trend, be true to who you are, and have your own taste. Get yourself a great website – Lee recommended, ‘Squarespace’.
  • When you find a job, make the role your own – push boundaries of what’s asked of you, don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone, ask questions, expect to hear ‘no’, ask again, don’t be afraid of anyone (they’re just people), hard work doesn’t often go unnoticed.
  • Your biggest asset is your team around you – create thinking environments (where everyone is comfortable to come up with ideas – no idea is stupid), change the scenery, consider every idea, never make fun of anyone who has an idea, make notes/scamp/save all thinking.
  • Present better than don draper – you’re not just a designer, you also work in sales – a great commercial creative is also a great client manager. Practice both selling and public speaking.
  • Be resilient – never give up, don’t accept that you’re not good enough.
  • Radical candour – bosses will use this: they will challenge your work directly, showing they care at the same time – don’t take feedback personally.
  • Choose when to take advice and when to leave it – listen to the advice, decided what is of value and what to leave behind.
  • You should get pid in more than money – knowledge, accounts, a team, leaders, opportunities. Understand what else there is to offer – shares, promotions, etc. Never sell yourself short – charge the right rates for what you do. Look online and find what the bench mark charging rates are for junior designers.
  • Know when it’s time to move on – don’t hang around waiting for things to get better.
  • Procrastination will kill you – take it head on! Know your vices and avoid them, find a new environment, get started, ask for feedback on whatever it is you’re doing.
  • No matter where your career takes you, don’t become a dick – there’s a lot in the industry. You don’t need to always be critical and mean to those coming up through the cycle – be nice.
  • Work hard + be nice + be on time = success.
  • Love what you do!