In the Hastings Press!

I’m delighted to have an interview published in the Hastings Independent Press about my life as a designer and lecturer. The full unedited interview is available to view below:

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Where did your passion for graphic design begin?

I studied for a degree in Art & Design with a specialism in Graphic Design in the late 90’s; up until that point my education had focused around Fine Art and drawing but I quickly became fascinated with the potential power of visual communication. I was a mature student and a single parent with small children so studying for a degree was also about ultimately providing for my family whilst enjoying a creative and challenging career myself.

Tell me more about your career

I was offered my first graphic design job at my Degree show and cut my design teeth working within a marketing and business environment for companies such as BT and Astrazeneca. Following this I free-lanced for a while getting involved in every opportunity that came my way; this included packaging design, design for print, web, book design and illustration, which lead into my next job at Dorling Kinderley (part of Penguin Book Publishers) where I worked as a Project Art Editor on The Strand in London. I absolutely loved that job!

Following this I ran my own company for 8 years, employing several members of staff and providing print, web and motion design. We worked for a wide range of companies but became known particularly for working with charities and not for profit organisations, which was incredibly rewarding.

I started teaching 7 years ago following a request from a friend to teach a logo design workshop and haven’t looked back. I went back to studying too and completed a PGCE teaching qualification in 2009, followed more recently an MA in Sequential Design and Illustration. These days I both teach and practice as a graphic designer and illustrator, whilst trying to fit some personal projects alongside too.

Who is your favourite designer? And why?

I have several favourites and my influences are quite broad but I’m definitely a big fan of Alan Fletcher – his work is so loose and playful. In contrast I love just about everything that came out of the Bauhaus, from Annie Alber’s woven rugs, to Paul Klee’s paintings and Herbert Bayer’s theories on typography; I think it’s the geometry that particularly appeals. In terms of more contemporary designers I love Marian Bantjjes and Jenny Holtzer’s completely different approaches to typography. I think it’s important to be open to influence from lots of different sources, after all graphic designers don’t only communicate to other designers.

How does other design work influence your own?

Teaching is very much a two-way process. The students often inspire ideas or discover insights, which are exciting and new. Breaking design basics down into briefs and workshops can also help me see a problem from a different perspective. Being enthusiastic with the students about design is inevitably infectious and keeps me excited about the subject. The fact that I’m still practicing means my knowledge is up-to-date and I understand the challenges of clients, technology and carving a creative career.

What is the best project you have worked on?

I designed a set of books from scratch for Dorling Kinderley called the 15 Minute Language series. The idea was that if you spent just 15 minutes a day learning the basics then you could master a new language (I never tried it out!) They were very visual and used colour and photography as tools for learning. I spotted them in an Airport once on my way to a holiday and took a photo of myself beside them – the thrill of seeing my work out in the real world never diminishes!

If you could do a one off design project for any brand, which one would it be and why?

I’d love to design a book for Phaidon Book Publishers – their work is stunning!

Why did you start teaching Graphic Communication at SCCH?

I relocated to the South Coast from Suffolk about 3 ½ years ago and came across the advert for the job I have now. I looked like my dream job, and I was lucky enough to be offered it. I wanted to teach Graphic Design at University level in an institution where students come first and the course size allows plenty of time for teaching one-to-one or in small groups. I also believe that everyone who wants it should get the opportunity to study for a degree; in Hastings many of the student’s live locally for a variety of reasons, courses like mine make studying possible for them.

What is the best thing about teaching a degree level course in Hastings?

Hastings is vibrant, diverse and creative – the perfect place to be a graphic design student. The Art Department at the College is supportive and welcoming. I’m also still rather excited about living at the seaside and I love my short commute into work along the seafront!

Do you have any exciting projects lined up that you want to tell us about?

I have an exciting stop-frame animation illustration job for a large British food retail brand that I’m working on right now, with more work to follow in the autumn. They are rebranding so my drawings sequentially tell the story of their brand development over about a dozen pages of a sketchbook. Stop frame is a very slow production process; each page took several hours to film and I went through a whole stack of pencils and paper, as each element was hand drawn. This job is the perfect opportunity to apply my as a graphic design branding knowledge to my illustration skills.

I’m also running a personal project, which has developed from my MA and I hope to feed into a PhD, inviting people to stitch their perspective on women and domesticity onto a duster. To date there have been over 70 submissions, four pop-up exhibitions including the Geffrye Museum of the Home in London and I’ve spoken at a seminar exploring relationships between the home and art. I’m now seeking funding to take it further. (More info here: https://domesticdusters.wordpress.com/)

Ultimately I am passionately creative and insatiably curious, and this is what I’d like to inspire in my students. Graphic design is so much more than just posters and websites, it’s way of thinking, looking and communicating to the world around us.

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