Yesterday was the last day of our London trip and we arrived home in the late evening. I have only been to London once before, and that was years ago when I was too young to even remember, so I found London absolutely incredible. There was so much to see – everywhere I looked I felt inspired – from the huge and beautiful buildings, to the amazing art and design plastered all over the city.
Day 1 – Sunday 21st February:
After a long bus journey, during which we all watched 22 Jump Street, we arrived in London at about 3pm, and after collecting our suitcases, went straight to The Generator hostel at which we were going to be staying. After being given our rooms and picking our bunk bed, my roommates (Emily, Abbi and Aimee) and I, headed out for dinner. We made our way to Chinatown, and searched for the cheapest Chinese buffet meal that we could find. Eventually, we found a rough looking place, with a hygiene rating of 2, called “Mr. Wu’s” – it was exactly what we’d been looking for. Although the interior wasn’t the nicest, the food was delicious, and at a great price too.
Day 2 – Monday 22nd February:
We were up bright and early this morning, ready for the 4 Designers conference which started at 10am and was being held at the University of West London (UWL). The conference was actually really good – the speakers were brilliant and hugely inspiring – they reminded me why I began doing Graphic Design in the first place and why I love it so much.
Carol Whitworth, Home
The first speaker was Carol Whitworth, founder of her business and director of innovation and inspiration, ‘Home’, an award-winning internal communications agency, launched in 1981 and has now been going for 34 years. Carol was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyme, and is from Ashington, and her business is now based in Bristol, UK as well as having an office in New York, USA.
Just some of their projects have included working for, Lloyds TSB (bank), Royal Mail, The Guardian (newspaper), Mace and Hershey (chocolate company).
Carol believes strongly that their are not enough women in Design, so ensures that her employees are made up of an equal mix of both male and female. Her passion for her area of work was inspirational and I felt almost empowered by the way she spoke, and connected a lot when she spoke in a feminist manner about women in the Design industry. After her presentation, during the questions time, a member of the audience asked, “As a woman in design, what have been some of your biggest challenges?” Carol responded, “Women need to be better than men in order to stand out – Design is a masculine dominated industry.” She also speaks about how she is in the position to able to actually turn down what she doesn’t want to do, and that she can pick and choose projects that she enjoys working on. Carol claims that she does not have a specific house style, instead she says that “it’s all about authenticity”.
What inspires Carol?
- young, raw talent
- hunger to learn
- those unhinged and unrealistic ideas
- pure magical genius
- “eager beavers”
What are Carol’s top tips?
- be authentic
- mediocre is just average
- lead with your heart
- live life with purpose
- don’t just do it for the money
- make yourself indispensable
- be enthusiastic
- never stop learning
- flattery gets you everywhere
- be good at attention to detail
- stand out from the crown
- dream big!
- have fun; don’t take yourself so seriously
Note to self: They are hiring, for placements! Write to Ben King (creative director) – email@example.com
Simon Manchipp, SomeOne.
The second speaker was Simon Manchipp, Co-Founder of company, ‘SomeOne’, an award-winning London based design practice, which has been going for 10 years now. The company prides itself in the fact that it is not run by a single individual – for example, there is no CEO, etc – it is ran instead by, ‘a bunch of creative people’. Working in this way means that clients meet and work with the designers themselves – this direct contact with SomeOne’s creative minds means ideas flow more freely.
Just some of their projects have included working for, Cancer Research (charity), Zinc (finance), The Children’s Society (charity), Crystal (ski holidays) and Compare The Market – they made the meerkats.
One of the company’s beliefs is that “people often ask for things to be consistent. What they generally need is for things to be coherent.” Simon Manchipp tells us that brands need three things – purpose, scale and influence, and then to achieve these things, you use three design routes – play, colour and entertainment. Backing up this claim of his, Simon’s entire presentation was filled with funny cat GIFs, keeping the audience chuckling and entertained throughout – I thought this was extremely clever. Simon agrees with Carol Whitworth (founder of Home), saying that he doesn’t have a house style, “[he] does things individually for the client and the client’s needs.” During the question time after his presentation, Simon was asked, “At what point did you realise you wanted to be a designer?” To which Simon told the story, “At the age of eleven years old, I walked into a Curry’s store and told them that their window display was absolutely rubbish – they had all of the televisions turned off, with nothing showing on the screens. I told them to simply: “Turn them on!” They paid me in computer games, to create a short animation which they could display on their screens. That was when I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up.”
Alan Ainsley, The Leith Agency
The third speaker was Alan Ainsley, creative director of ‘The Leith Agency’, which has been going for 30 years.
Alan has been working in the creative industries for the past 27 years. During the question time after his presentation, he was asked about how to create a good portfolio. Alan said, “It needs to be something that will stick with them.” He also said, “Don’t ever work for nothing – stand up for yourself and your work, make sure you ask for money.”
Just some of their projects have included working for, Irn Bru (energy drink), Aldi (supermarket), the ‘country road campaign’ (safe driving), Great Western (trains) and the England Football team kit.
What are Alan’s top tips?
- Don’t be shy – confidence is key
- Adventure – push the boundaries and try new things
- Bring the outside, in
- Share and test your ideas early on
- Let yourself come out through your work
- Know who you’re talking to – be aware of your audience
- Don’t be precious – if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work
- Take time out to recharge, then have another go
- Do what you want; you’re allowed to say ‘no’
- Believe and achieve – prioritise a main focus
- Have fun! Enjoy what you do
- Opportunities can be small and accidental
- Find a story; tell it well
- Set the standards; be the next step
Jonathan Sands, Elmwood
The fourth and final speaker was Jonathan Sands, Chairman of company, ‘Elmwood’, a leading brand design consultancy, renowned for winning more Design Effectiveness Awards (DBAs) than any other consultancy in the history of the scheme. After launching in 1977 as a small local design studio in Leeds, Elmwood has now been going for 38 years – it is now based all over the world, including Leeds, London, New York, Singapore, Hong Kong and Melbourne. The company follows the quote (by musician, Jerry Garcia), “It’s no longer good enough to be the best of the best, you need to be the only ones who do what you do,” as their ethos.
Just some of their projects have included working for, Coca Cola Euro 2016 – France, Lynx, Cow & Clover (New York restaurant), Ann Summers, Pizza Express and Tesco.
Jonathan left school at the age of 16 years old, he studied business for a couple of years and then joined an advertising agency – now look at where he is today! Jonathan says, “Setting up an agency, there will be a period of up to 9 months where you won’t be making profit as a business – make sure you have enough funds to keep you going during this time, it’s very easy to go bust – you need a client.” Jonathan also agreed with Alan Ainsley, saying “Don’t ever work for nothing.” During the question time after his presentation, Jonathan was asked about what makes a good portfolio, to which he replied, “You tell a story through each piece of your work that you put in your portfolio – your story has to be based on an insight; a reason why the consumer would want it,” “Less is definitely more,” “Create a clear message on each page – one story per spread – simple focused and easy to read – impact!” Jonathan was also asked about creating a personal brand or personal identity. In reply, he said, “Find something that’s authentically true to you, in the way that you interact as well. Having a brand both attitudingly and visually pleasing, is important. However, don’t be a know-it-all, big-headed or arrogant – first impressions tell everything!” He says that, “Perseverance is key – if you don’t succeed the first time; try again. Use a unique approach. Empathy and engagement is really important.”
What are some of Jonathan’s top tips?
- Have the right attitude and believe in yourself – be confident, but not arrogant
- If you aren’t making mistakes, you aren’t pushing yourself hard enough
What are Jonathan’s tips on getting a job?
- Research agencies and get a placement
- Find a name, write a good email/letter, or send a PDF, or something different and original, e.g. an animation.
- Make a portfolio – stuff you like, stuff that’s relevant, stuff that’s eye-catching
- Write a relevant and passionate CV
- Portfolio 50%; YOU 50%
- Listen and watch others in order to learn
Day 3 – Tuesday 23rd February:
Today we had studio visits. My group and I visited ‘Dare’, a new digital agency founded in 2000, who focus on solving clients’ business problems, by digitally connecting the customer experience – they have 50-200 employees.
Just some of their projects have included working for, Aviva (car insurance), Ryanair (airplane), EE, Vision Express, BMW (cars), Channel 4, Starbucks and Barclays. They use a range of creative outputs when working with clients, including websites, mobile apps, content programmes and advertising.
We were shown around the studio by Mark Bell, and he then did a presentation for us on the approach he uses in his work, which he calls ‘experience planning’.
After the studio visit to Dare, we had the rest of the day off until we were due to get on the bus back to Cardiff at 6. A group of us decided we would visit London’s, Camden Town. Camden is known for it’s wonderful markets and shops. The food and drink market in Camden serves food from all over the world – the smell when you walk through the gates was delicious – my friend and I spent our time going round and making sure we try a taster from every stall. Music is also a big thing in Camden, with live music in bars every evening, and buskers along the street in the day. The atmosphere was amazing! We discovered a gorgeous little vintage shop, called Rockit, where we all bought some clothes as a souvenir of Camden.
I thought London was amazing and I had an incredible trip – everywhere we looked there was more and more sights to see and opportunities to take. I definitely want to go back again soon, so I plan to go there again perhaps over Easter, but most likely Summer – maybe I’ll spend time doing a placement there.