My Grandfather took part in the Second World War, which sparked an early interest in all things military as a young child. I started collecting all the regiment badges and symbols, as I liked their interesting designs. Years later my interest moved onto motorcycles where again I started collecting badges, stickers, posters and brochures of all the bike brands and sponsors which I used to cover my entire bedroom from floor to ceiling. This obsession soon made it’s way into school as I spent most of my early years creating symbols or drawing cars with big and bold livery schemes (to the detriment of my wider education).
I studied at Northumbria University in Newcastle before coming to London for the D&AD New Blood show at the end of third year. I was fortunate enough to be approached by Browns Design as I literally disassembled my section of the stand and was offered a two-week work placement and an opportunity to work on my first design brief for the artist (now friend) Paul Davis – on a catalogue for his exhibition titled ‘God Knows’.
I have a dual role at Wolff Olins – As a Design Director my primary role is to lead and be responsible for the creative success of projects (often more than one at the same time) as well as bringing a strong, creative point of view to the leadership of the business. As Design Coach I’m responsible for the personal growth and development of designers as well as the overall shape of the community – making sure we have the right talent and skills to do the best work.
I always look for graduates that do work with strong idea flowing through it, an idea that is brought to life beyond the logo and graphics and deep into the experience of the brand, product or service. Experimentation is important too, if they push themselves beyond the traditional design principles taught in the class room and experiment with new ways of creating and making with things like technology it will set them apart. Marry these two things with enthusiasm, curiosity and an optimistic outlook and they will go far in my book.
We have ensured digital thinking is embedded in our work for some time now; you can’t create a brand system without considering its role in digital and how it will behave or how people will interact with it. As we look to push boundaries beyond our own capabilities we often partner with friends that can help us do this. A great example of this is our partnership with Onformative for our client Genesis Beijing. We started with a very ambitious idea but traditional graphic design only took us so far, so we brought Onformative in for their experience and expertise to help really push the work and bring it to life using processing. The result was something so original it won us two D&AD awards this year.