I'm the Head of Creative at Bailey Nelson. We're an Australian eyewear company with 60 stores in 4 countries. We're on a bit of a mission to make eyecare simpler, more fun and a much nicer experience. We not only design and hand craft our own frames, but we offer the best optometry in nice stores filled with great people.
I studied Graphic Design back in the UK for 5 years. I studied at a small regional college, initially studying for a diploma for 2 years, then finally a degree for 3 years.
I pretty much threw myself straight into internships, starting with The Chase which was a bit of a design institution for any British designer; they were known for their award-winning, often very witty design. Chances are if you've opened a copy of 'A Smile In the Mind' or looked through a logo book, you've seen some of their stuff. After 3 months there, I spent some time at JWT the ad agency to see if that world was for me. It was a great experience but it wasn't the work that I enjoyed. I did 6 months of interning in total, and after a couple of months working at Love Creative, they took me on full-time.
Generally, it starts before I get in so I can quickly scan emails and what has happened across the regions overnight so that I can start thinking about what the curveballs might be. Once I'm in I'll chat through the day priorities. In terms of how the day unfolds, at the moment, it's a lot of meetings and discussions for me. Mainly it's checking in with the rest of the creative team and also the marketing team. We work really closely with all the teams in the business.
At the moment, we've been focussing on our summer product launch across Australia and NZ, so that means designing window posters, window displays, printed collateral, digital lookbook, in-store signage, social media content and advertising. In addition to that, we're doing heaps of marketing events and activations which means a whole lot more to deliver.
We're only a small team, so it's much better when I can actually help out and I'm not in meetings, designing and being creative is actually what I enjoy doing so any opportunity to do that is great.
Personally I think they are invaluable. When I studied, internships and placements were practically the only way into the industry. My 6 months of interning was unpaid but for travel expenses. I don't think that's very fair, and I understand why some people don't like them full-stop, but I think we often look at them from the wrong angle.
Many people think it's 'cheap labour' or a legacy from how the industry used to be. I looked at it like this; you basically have no responsibility and no-one has high expectations when you're interning. These are perfect conditions to be creative and show your stuff. Studios want to see how hard working and creative you are and it's basically an opportunity for the taking when you're interning. Obviously, it works both ways. If you're asked to find reference images or re-organise the book shelves, you're not going to learn anything and importantly they won't get the best out of you.
We're about to start taking internships again in our creative team and we're always on the look out for great talent and people who want to learn.
Ideas. Other creatives look for different things but I look for ideas. When I studied, it was all about coming up with great ideas and delivering them effectively and in an exciting or different way. The skill with which you Photoshopped an image was secondary. It was all about creative thinking. So I look for problem-solving in a portfolio and fun, creative ideas. The rest of your skillset (retouching, typesetting etc) accelerates on the job.
Always a difficult problem. The best thing to do is to make sure that before you start coming up with ideas, the brief or the brand is super clear. Sounds simple, but it means that when you judge creative ideas, you're basing it on whether it solves the problem the best, not only what you think looks or sounds cool. It removes the subjectivity.
That said, the job of a Creative Director is to steer the visual and verbal too, so ultimately it can be beneficial to have a hierarchy or decision maker.
When I'm not designing things, I'm here to ensure the creative output is on-brand and we're constantly evolving as we rapidly grow the business.
Lucille is our Art Director and Senior Designer. She looks after the campaign imagery and photographic output of the brand. It's her job to work with the marketing team to make sure the product looks great and at the same time, we're projecting the brand in the best light. She's got a great eye for locations, styling and talent - and great planning skills which I don't have.
Wendy is our Junior Designer. She takes care of the core brand output - from marketing emails to store windows and everything in between. Wendy is fresh out of Uni and is working on a lot, from digital and packaging to copywriting and signage. She's interested, eager and a calming influence in a hectic office environment.
Beyond that, we have the marketing team in Sydney who are part of the wider creative team; Tara, Taylor, Arabella and Sophie. There's also members of the marketing team in each region. We also have our product designers Ryan and Dom who design all the product from the same office.
Take a gap year, go travelling before you get into the industry.