Featured Studio


July 2018

We recently spoke with Claire Johnson and Dale Lawrence of creative agency HOICK about finding the right intern for the studio, not having all your eggs in one basket, and why they think small agencies should band together to support each other more.

Where did you study and what were some of your first jobs?

We both studied Brand Communication which consists of a practical design course which was accompanied by art and design history, photography and marketing modules. During our final year, our lecturer suggested to us that it might be really useful for us to do a post graduate diploma in art to supplement what we learnt during out design course. These 2 areas of study overlapped perfectly for us - the design course taught us about conceptual development, crafting and execution, while the art course taught us to make critical thinking an integral part of our practice, and the perspective to know what we want to do with design.

My first job was actually working as a retoucher with a really good team of people, and from then I went into freelancing with a couple of different clients. From there we freelanced with a creative director, and this gradually grew into a small design studio which is where we both where before starting Hoick.

Whats your take on internships? (do you take interns now?)

Internships are interesting as they can be incredibly productive for both the studio and the intern, or they can be really frustrating for both parties.

Our take on internships is to consider a few key things. Firstly do we 'suit' each other - do we have a good connection, sense of humour, design style, etc.

Secondly - what do they want out of the internship - what are their expectations - to be sure we can match these.

And lastly, do we have the right mix of work in the studio at the time - a balance of work that will inspire the intern that they can take ownership of, as well as work that the intern can do to help us elevate our workload. There needs to be something that the intern can really feel like they have done and achieved and enjoyed, paired with the kind of work which makes up a good portion of a design studio - to have a real experience.

What do you look for in a great client?

For us a good client is one whose project has integrity and who is doing something unique that we can jump off from and be inspired by.

Another key component is that they respect the design process and are excited to engage with design a whole rather than just a quick graphic job.


Try to get as many different experiences as you can - freelance, intern, do little collaboration projects - keep busy and keep meeting new people.


What have been some of your biggest disasters and how have you learnt from it?

The biggest disaster we have had is to loose our big retainer client which we relied on for all of our overheads.

This client meant we where able to step out and start our own studio, but the truth was that once we broke away from them we had to courage to do it on our own, and we just needed to find the means.

It was really difficult but we learnt how to build up the studio again with resilience and flex and also not to be scared of taking risks and accepting change. The biggest lesson is not to have eggs in only one basket!

What advice would you give students starting out?

Give yourself time to figure out who you are and where you want to be - try to get as many different experiences as you can - freelance, intern, do little collaboration projects - keep busy and keep meeting new people.

I found that the people I started to know through different jobs and projects became one of the most important part of my career. Also always keep doing personal and side projects, these are so important to your practice and your portfolio.

What do you think the design community could do more of to give back?

The number one thing we could do to give back to each other is to share resources - especially small agencies.

Whether it be business tips, suppliers and people we network with - I feel that we would all do much better if we had a small community of support.

It is so difficult as the pond is small and we want to protect ourselves, our work, our resources - but this is something that would make us a healthier and more resilient design community as a whole - its all about reaching out rather than trying to defend ourselves.

Website: hoick.co.za

Instagram: @hoick


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