Andrew Simpson is a Graphic Design graduate from DJCAD, leaving in 2016. He now works full-time as a Junior Designer for Good, a branding agency based in Glasgow. In his spare time he enjoys playing guitar, swimming, going to the gym and travelling.
Hi Andrew! Whats your main source of inspiration when approaching a new project?
My main source of inspiration for a new project is the brief. You have to get a handle on the problem you are trying to solve and do your research on the subject before you look at how other people have solved other problems.
Do you do a lot of research before a final design?
Research is key to designing anything so I spend as much time on it as I can. Although the time constraints of studio life mean that you have to get much
more efficient at it.
Who is your favourite artist/designer, who inspires you, and why?
My favourite designer/creative is the Illustrator Christoph Neimann. His ability to distil ideas into its simplest form is outstanding. And if you watch any of his talks or read any of his books, you discover he has a pretty solid handle on the creative process. (He will also be on an episode of Abstract – the new Netflix documentary on design that releases on Friday (10.02.17))
How quickly after uni did you manage to find work?
I gained employment off the back of a placement undertaken whilst still at university so moved into a job straight away.
How much creative freedom do you feel you get in your current job/internships/projects?
Currently I have a reasonable amount of creative freedom in my job. Although as a Junior Designer you have to respect the fact that you’re no longer your own Creative Director and sometimes there is grunt work that needs done. I work with a good team who give me opportunity to push myself when they see fit and when I show initiative. I would also say that the amount of responsibility/freedom I have been given has increased a lot since beginning 7 months ago.
Do you actively seek work (how?), and what is most important – CV, portfolio, social media, blogs?
I am not currently seeking work. In the event that I was I would be looking for placements, creating a solid portfolio and networking. Knowing the right people is key to getting your foot in the door. Designers need to like the people they work with and they can’t like you if they don’t know you.
What resources and infrastructure do you miss now that you are away from uni? Do you feel connected to the people or networks that were available in uni? How do you manage to make new contacts?
I wouldn’t say I miss anything from university necessarily. It was perfect to get me where I am now such that I don’t have to miss it. I do feel connected the networks that were available at Uni – I remain in contact with many of my peers who work across a wide variety of design jobs all across the UK. I know that the advice and support of former tutors is available whenever I need it.
I make new contacts by attending design events, socialising with other designers in Glasgow, and using social media as a tool for my work.
What one thing do you know now that you wish you had known when you were leaving uni?
I’m much faster in my design process now, and much better at making decisions within my work. The ability to do that better during my time at DJCAD would have been great.
How do you overcome difficulties during projects such as lack of ideas, motivation etc?
Take a break and come at the problem again fresh – or work out a new way of working on it. (Eg – If your working on a craft beer – go and visit a brewery). Ask someone else who’s opinion you value to take a look and tell you what they think. And always try out the ideas that you think are too silly to work. Because they just might, and if they don’t, then they will often inspire something else.
How do you manage your time and adjust to going from having the uni schedule to not having a set schedule as such? Do you plan projects up front?
I’m very lucky that someone else is paid to essentially manage my time for me. But I have had to become much more aware of my use of time. If I’m scheduled to work on something for two hours then that’s how long I should be working on it. No more, no less. But the pressure of time has made me a more fluid and efficient designer.
How do you deal with clients and putting value in to your projects, cost per hour of your work, do you generally get a lot of negotiation in regards to hourly rate/selling rate?
This is not something I really have to deal with. But I would say if you area working professionally as a designer then you have to value your work. Think about what someone at your level would be earning in a studio. Then add-on the costs of overheads (Adobe, Electricity, Studio Space, Student Loan etc…) then work out what that means in an hourly cost. Just because you love what you do doesn’t mean you should be doing it for free.
Have you experienced any form of internship, and if so, is it something you would recommend? How did you go about getting one? Are there any websites?
My Internship was without a doubt the most valuable thing I did on my way to getting a job. It taught me about the realities of studio life as well as allowing me to show my value as someone who works hard, is enthusiastic and willing to learn – which is harder to genuinely convey in a portfolio or CV.
Would you consider going back to education, do you have any plans for the future?
I currently have no intention of going back into education. It set me up really well for what I’m doing now, but now learn more every day that I ever did at university.