*FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE MARCH, IT'S DESIGN TIME...*
You're the Dauntless Senior Designer. Where did this creative journey begin for you?
"I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have some interest in the arts, and in creative things in general. There’s a really poignant memory that sticks out as an example: I was around thirteen and looking at CDs and their covers in HMV, or somewhere similar. I was told that the person whose job it is to make these covers is something called a ‘Graphic Designer.’ Obviously, my first thought was ‘wow!’ After learning that, my main goal was doing something like that for a living.
After completing my A-Levels, the next logical step was art college, and Ravensbourne stood out for a number of reasons. Firstly, it sounded like the name of a school House from Hogwarts, which was always going to be a big deal. Secondly, because they focus on the more creative outputs and broadcast, that kind of thing. In fact, they have a reputation for brilliance; across the creative industries, most employers are keen on hiring graduates of that art college.
So I thought long and hard about the various course options for my further study: all I knew I was set on becoming a Graphic Designer. So while I wasn’t totally sure I wanted to take the time to complete an Art Foundation, in the end I decided to do just that at Ravensbourne, so that my learning was as well-rounded as possible.”
Do you think you chose the right course for you?
"Definitely. Looking back, I realise the specialist niche of Ravensbourne is undoubtedly its strength. Apart from our course leader of Graphic Design, all the tutors were fully professional designers, in studios totally outside of our learning space. They brought their real-world knowledge to us, which isn’t the norm: they were always up-to-date on the latest trends and movements in the industry, and possessed the in-depth expertise on the software we would be working with.
Every term we would learn with one of these guest tutors, for one day per week: they would set us briefs, to which we would respond. And throughout all of this, they mimicked the real world as much as possible, in all sorts of ways: as part of our project presentations, we would have to present the projected costs of producing the work.
These realities of the profession – of factoring in the cost of materials and so on into the overall potential of a solution – came to be an invaluable part of the process and learning curve, for all of us.”
So you were well-prepared for life after your degree?
"Very much so. Throughout these three years, we came to be prepared – as realistically and honestly as possible – for the careers ahead of us.
Admittedly, the timing of our graduation wasn’t the most ideal; our cohort left the college around the time when the recession was beginning to bite. For me, a few internships followed, followed by a really enjoyable freelance stint at a studio called Knifedge.
This then was followed by working in a large advertising firm. While the experience was positive overall, including working on some large brands, I also think this was where I realised that working in smaller, lower-key environments was really suited to me. I then went on to freelance for about two years, before joining a studio specialising in the luxury goods and travel sectors, as a Senior Designer: there I learned an incredible amount about processing artwork for big names such as The Times, Harper’s Bazaar, the FT, and so on. Overall, that step was fine, even if I felt like my role was actually more of ‘glorified art-worker’; I knew I wanted something more creative and varied. And that’s when I joined Dauntless.”
Nice! So what have been some career highlights for you on a personal level?
"Two things stick out. For one, I was super honoured to work on the branding and print collateral for Promax UK, a broadcast conference and awards ceremony. Which meant the logo I worked on was over three metres tall, right in the middle of the stage backdrop! Seeing that in front of all those big execs and broadcasting giants – as well as the TV audience – was pretty special.
For another, while I was at Knifedge, we delivered the title sequence for a comedy sketch show on BBC 2. I was brought onto the project as the Art Director, and worked closely with the Motion Graphics Designer to make it happen. We even made it into the credits of the program as it aired on TV. That was also a great feeling of achievement.”
And what's one mistake you look back on and laugh at?
"Well, at one time I was working on a client’s website, and accidentally dragged one of the main website folders into another folder – so the entire website disappeared! Right in that moment, it was mildly terrifying. I quickly had to go through every single folder on the server to try and find what I’d misplaced, ideally before anyone else noticed! So really, the moral of the story is: beware of FTPs, as there’s no ‘undo’ button!”
For you, what's the best thing about working in creative, entrepreneurial environments?
"The best thing – especially in places like Dauntless – is that no day is ever the same. That was definitely an important factor in me going for this kind of career in the first place – alongside my appreciation of CD and album covers! As a crew, we work largely in digital, yet everything we produce is so varied.”
So for people who aspire to lead creative careers, what piece of career wisdom would you share?
"When I was at Ravensbourne, they used to tell us that being a designer is a lifestyle, not just a career choice that you clock out of at 5pm. At the time, I honestly didn’t fully appreciate what this sentiment really meant. Now, having worked in the role, I realise that you need to have the passion to be generously, unfailingly creative, because – at the end of the day – everything you create has a little bit of you in it. So if being creatively-minded isn’t really a part of your lifestyle, you’re going to struggle and find ‘switching on’ creativity in your professional life all the more difficult.
It really holds true that anything and everything can influence your output, above all the things you enjoy doing in your downtime, whether art exhibitions are involved, that kind of thing.”
Where do you go, or what do you do – online or offline – to find your inspiration?
"I love just going out and exploring London. I find it’s very important for me to take the time to go out and explore different environments: taking in the plethora of architectural styles – it really is amazing what you see when you take the time to raise your eyes just above street level.
For example, enjoying a nice long stroll from Fitzrovia, all the way south to Charing Cross, is also like walking through four different cities, in just one walk. Places like Soho Square on a Saturday are just so full of life: likewise, walking along the Southbank, from London Bridge, past the Globe theatre is just as refreshing and eye-opening. So yeah, I go walking!”
Who are your heroes?
"I’m not 100% sure I’d call him my hero, but a Designer I admire a lot is Kyle Cooper; he’s an American Motion Designer and has worked on a full range of high profile title sequences.
He was one of the very first people to use a film’s opening title sequence as a storytelling device in and of itself. With the movie Se7en, he used this segment of the film, that had previously been used only to display the names and companies involved in the production of the film.
In this sequence, he features Kevin Spacey’s character, who doesn’t really feature in the main story up until the last third of the plot: we see behind the curtain of the serial killer, and get a sense of the tone and style of the film ahead of us. Before this film, we’d never really seen anything like this, ever. And Cooper has basically built his career on this kind of thinking which, at the time, really pushed the idea of the title sequence beyond a montage of footage, with some text on-screen.”
Now, you have two options: either, you’re able to instantly teleport anywhere, for a limited number of times per day, but it hurts a bit to do so. Or, you can fly, but it gets physically exhausting, like high-intensity cardio. What do you choose?
"I’m leaning towards Teleportation. I think I could deal with enduring the pain when instantly appearing somewhere, and would just get over it and enjoy it. If I was able to fly, but it could be as exhausting as cardio, I wouldn’t really use it. What if I arrived somewhere and was so tired that I just wanted to sleep?”
And on that note, what's your super power?
"Telekinesis! Being able to move stuff with my mind would be pretty Jedi. I must confess, though: I’d most probably end up using my powers for practical jokes on my colleagues, as opposed to anything else!”
And finally, it's movie night – what's on in the Harvey household?
"Probably something like Inception, which has the kind of cerebral action to really hold your attention. It helps that it’s also visually interesting, has a pretty great twist, and an incredible score – it’s basically the complete package!”
Many thanks Emily!
That's it for June's Crew Member of the Month – keep your eyes peeled for our next entry. A little hint: it might be one of our developers...