I sort of grew up living a graphic design work placement without knowing it, my Dad was a designer and as any designer will know it tends to spread to encompass your whole life one way or another.
My Dad ran a studio in Liverpool, and when I was really little (maybe 5ish) he started doing a lot of freelance at home. Design was a lot different then as this was pre-mac so our house filled up with unusual design machinery, I was probably the only kid in school who had a Grant Enlarger in his room for tracing out of sticker albums. I’d be heading off to bed and would call in to say goodnight to my Dad who would be at his drawing board plugged in to his headphones often working until really late. So this was one of my first lessons that I learnt about design, that it means lots of hard work and long hours.
As I grew up my Dad set up his own studio in Liverpool, in the summer holidays I’d go in with him and use their machines to draw and little by little I learnt how to do things, mainly by asking everyone what they were doing and they would generally be more than happy to show me. The more I asked and learned the more they would involve me and the more useful I was to everyone. I only did little things, but there was quite a buzz when I would see something that I’d done for someone for real in a piece of print or on a product.
So that’s my advice, be interested in what everyone is doing, you’ll learn from them and they’ll involve you.
Another thing I learned from growing up around design that always made me laugh in college was deadlines, no-one prepares you for real deadlines. I’d grown up seeing things being turned around in a day, or if you were really lucky a whole week on a big project. Then in college we would get three months. Three months? And sometimes, that was only to research something! So on placement it’s always good to be ready to hit the ground running because there is rarely the luxury of time.
Finally, in college or university you tend to get the big marks for great ideas or beautiful styling, but no-one is appreciated as much on a design team as someone who is really helpful, works as hard as they can & has good music taste.
Jim Quail - Creative Director