Newcastle local Brandon Mcintosh is up for 3 AGDA Awards this year – three! Here we learn all his secrets to success 😉 including getting thrown in the deep end after high school, asking your printer for a discount, and always present your work face-to-face!
When did you fall in love with design and how did you get started? I always had an appreciation for design but I never envisioned myself as a designer it was only by chance that I fell in love with design. After completing high school I was lucky enough to tick off a pretty major life goal and got a job working for a theatre company, Tantrum Theatre. Tantrum’s season identity was created by Heath Killen a ridiculously talented designer who is worth a google search. Being underfunded we couldn’t afford to employ Heath to do all our designs throughout the year so I was tasked with rolling out Heaths designs and turning his initial work into programs and posters. Heath indirectly taught me to be a designer; I learnt from Heath the rules of good design and knowing when to break them. Working off a style guide can seem boring and mundane but it was the best design education and taught me a lot about the importance of roll out and how to maintain a brand identity across different mediums. Most importantly I learnt not to logo slap but make each roll out item exciting and unique. After this experience I couldn’t stop thinking about design and decided to pursue my new found passion by enrolling in a course at Shillington.
‘Remember you’re a business not an employee when freelancing.’
Give us the elevator pitch on what you do.
I currently operate my own creative studio that focuses on creating and refreshing brands. I specialise in using marketing techniques and strategies to develop well-rounded purposeful brands that are consumer centric and encapsulating of the passion, culture and motivations of the people behind the brand.
What has been your highlights since you started out?
Having my work recognised online has been a huge privilege and highlight that I am so grateful for. Being featured on TDK, and blogs such as The Brand Identity, as well as being recognised by Adobe and AGDA, has really changed my outlook and helped me to build my confidence as a designer. Freelancing can be isolating and its uplifting to receive positive feedback from your design peers and idols.
‘I think designers are morphing into strategists’
What has been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learnt along the way?
1. Ask your printer for a trade discount! I was devastated when I found out I could have saved or made money on printing. Not every printer offers this but if they do it’s good for business as you can either make a little extra cash on the side or pass the discount onto your client.
2.Always take a deposit from clients or get them to sign a contract before beginning a project. My teacher at Shillington, Shanti Sparrow warned me about the importance of this numerous times but it didn’t really sink in until I didn’t get paid for work I had completed.
3. Try to always present your work face-to-face whether it’s in person or over video chat. Emailing back and forth critiques and opinions can be time consuming, and if a client doesn’t like your work email can be a brutal way to receive feedback. I always put effort into pitching to clients and preparing presentations to reveal work, it makes for a much better experience for you and your client.
4. Invest in a Quickbooks or Xero subscription to manage your invoicing and bookkeeping if you’re a freelancer. I would avoid trying to manage it yourself if you’ve never sent an invoice before. A bookkeeping software keeps everything professional and makes life easier at the end of the financial year. It also gives your clients different payment options, which allows you to get paid quicker when working with big businesses.
5. Be confident and realistic when quoting work. Know your worth and account for your business expenses in your hourly rate. Remember you’re a business not an employee when freelancing.
Who would be the “dream client” that you would do anything to work for?
I would love the opportunity to return to my design roots and create a season or brand identity for a theatre company. Theatre and arts organisations are great clients because there is so much opportunity for fantastic roll-out, you get to push the envelope, and lack of funding can really empower you to come up with some exciting creative solutions.
Where do you think design is heading in the next five years and how will you adapt? I think designers are morphing into strategists and that more emphasis is being placed on strategy and the ‘why’ behind a brand or campaign. Design studios are aligning themselves heavily with marketing principles and putting a lot more effort into selling clients their capability to think over their ability to design. Putting a focus on strategy is a great way to differentiate and develop a unique selling point for your studio. I think in the next 5 years we will see a change in the way designers are educated and graduates will be multi-disciplined. It’s an interesting time for the industry and I think we will see a huge change in the way agencies/studios operate.