Common designer questions answered.

What advice would you give a graduate about getting into advertising?

Get as much ‘real world’ experience behind you as possible, freelance, work for free, you have a qualification, but no folio as yet. Provide design solutions for everyone you know… Believe in yourself. Word of mouth is the best advertising!

How does your company find prospective employees for the graphic design department?

We receive 5 – 7 CV’s a day, so we are generally inundated with prospective new staff!

What are your design disciplines?

Graphic, logo and website design

What do employers look for when hiring entry level graphic designers?

Creativity, originality, dependability, coupled with attention to the details.

What advertising media does your agency work with? (billboards, magazines, newspaper, radio, television, web design)

Billboards, magazines, newspaper and website design. We do excel at design for print.

What is the structure of your company (teams, individuals)? How does it operate?

All work is overseen by the Managing Director, creative teams or individuals are supervised, given free reign, reigned in and provide support to each other as and when required – we’re really quite a close bunch.

How does your company find /win new clients?

Word of mouth and internet advertising.

Do you offer internships, either paid or non-paid?

Yes, through an established college scheme run by several universities in the UK, alternatively, if you can get your tutor to contact us direct, we may consider taking you on.

What would you do, when a client doesn't like your work, but you really, really like it?

Clients are never presented with a final designed solution, as they are involved with the project from the outset – they commission it, and are usually provided witth several initial creative directions to consider, with consultation a creative direction is chosen and evolved. It is very rare for all concepts to be knocked back – but has happened. In that instance we would offer to put forward new alternate designs (normally in exchange for a round of revisions – if the client is adamant that we will never meet their requirements, we call it quits and bill for time spent.

What do you do, when you cant capture a new idea about your work?

Read, walk or pace! Depends on how much time is available – if a solution is not immediately apparent, it can be good to give your mind something else to do, letting the problem mull over in the background – think ‘sleep on it!’. If a solution is required immediately, we will normally brainstorm a list of solutions and run with the best of these.

How would you explain the value of creativity to a client?

This is dependent on the client and the target market. Design is frequently an industry in which you create designs for a customer that is not directly yours, rather those of the client themselves, but get paid by your client as they have a requirement to these customers. Innovation can pay huge rewards, but also carries more risk, tried and tested can be very creative too, its generally about finding the right approach and pushing that as far as possible.

How did you get started in the Advertising/Graphic Design industry?

I did my work experience in an agency at 16 and loved it. Then did a degree in Architectural Engineering as my Dad reckoned that was a good path for someone with a strong combination of Art and Maths skills. He was right, and it was good to listen to his opinion, but it just wasn’t for me. It was interesting, but was not exciting enough… I then got a lucky break in an agency in West London and have never looked back.

What do you do to stimulate your imagination?

Pace, a lot… Discuss with the team, Sketch some more!

What is your personal definition of creativity?

Problem solving in a graphic or artistic fashion.

What is the working environment like there?

Relaxed, busy, modern, stressful, fun – it feels like home.

Do you allow tours of your studio?

Yes, but by prior appointment only – happy to chat if we can though.

How do you go about creating a brand identity to suit a specific product or the particular consumer group it attracts?

Research, brainstorming, initial concepts, feedback, revision, solution.

What three factors are the most important when creating a visual identity?

The target market, The brief, The client (not necessarily in that order).

Do you use other comparable brands/ products as sources of inspiration?

No – we do check out the competition to ensure that we create design solutions that are original, rather than inadvertently emulate, but they are not used for inspiration, more to see the pit falls or learn from their approach before committing to a specific path.

Do you work closely with the clients at every stage of the design process to ensure a successful outcome?

Yes, fully. It is the best way to deliver accurate results, ensure that the call to action and relevant message is balanced with a creative solution – and just as importantly to get paid at the end of the job.

What is your starting point when given a brief?

Clarify anything we are unsure of is most important! Following that, brainstorm – as no idea is invalid… sketch, scribble, make notes, procrastinate… a bit like making any other life changing decision really!

What principles do you consider to be important for a designer?

Patience, exceptionally good at listening and acting on client feedback, taking creative criticism as a form of improving a creative solution.

Do you rely solely upon computer aided production or do you also incorporate traditional design methods within your work?

Always start with a sketch book, before moving onto the Mac to produce the worked up concepts.

Who or what inspires your styles and designs?

The brief, Client feedback, Experience, Environment

What factors in your opinion make a successful designer?

Talent, Innovative, Confidence, Enthusiasm, Receptive, Awareness, Attention to detail.

Name one brand which in your opinion has a successful graphic identity?

Its a cliché now, but we still have to say Apple corp®. Apart from being our every day hero’s, there is nobody else who comes close…

How do you keep up to date with current trends?

We don’t try and keep up… Trends move very fast… We do keep our eyes open however! We are subjected to the same influences as any other consumer, its just that we may absorb influences that others overlook..

Could you walk me through the process that an ad / project takes from start to finish.

Discuss client requirements, aims and message or ‘call to action’. Produce initial design solutions and present to client. Revise until client is happy that brief is met or deadline arrives. Set up for print, get printed, deliver on time.

What is different, between being a design student and a professional designer?

As a student you have loads of potential, too much time and not enough money. As a professional designer you have loads of potential, not enough time and not enough money. Seriously, this is a very competitive industry, but once involved, if you have a passion for it you can earn a very enjoyable living and meet some great people along the way.

Do you think your lifestyle could influence your design?

No – but we are very influenced by what we see around us, in both urban and natural environments.

What would you do, when you working? (e.g: listen to music)

Always music, we have diverse musical tastes, but believe there is always a tune to fit the mood.

Which colour do you especially like?

Depends on the application its to be used in! I am into working with neutral, earthy tones at the moment. I wear a lot of dark blue if that helps!

How many hours do you work every day?

Too many – I probably do around 60 hrs/week at the moment.

How much was your first job pay?

Michael started on around £10k – but that was in 1995!

How did you find your first design job?

Each of us has a different story, for Michael Mursell (MD): I had friends who worked in an agency – but I had no skills. Fortunately the owner thought it was better to have a ‘team player’ than an off the peg graduate designer and I got a job as artworker before moving onto image library manager, before finally being allowed to play with actual client designs…


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