How I became the graphic designer I am today
I was born in a market town/small city called Hereford. At this young age, I will admit it, I really wasn’t that good at design. Many of my early efforts were centred around ‘wall art’, during these early years my preferred medium was pureed vegetables and wax crayons. Despite my best efforts to communicate with my parents they clearly didn’t understand me which often led to a feeling of frustration on my part, I could never understand why they called me a clever boy but then proceeded to put my artwork in the bin or wipe it off the walls?
I took my first steps into design during my time at primary school, I became a master of drawing ‘Chad’ peeking over the wall, my paper aeroplane designs were legendary, and I was recognised as the ‘go to guy’ if anybody needed something cutting out neat and tidy with a pair of safety scissors. My palette expanded at this point in time and a whole world of new visual mediums opened up to me. Powder paint and PVA glue I seem to remember were favoured by me during the 1980’s
High School – at a mere 5ft 4″ when I finished High School in 1991 I got bullied a lot and have tried to forget much of this traumatic period in my life. I was loud, annoying and very small, almost freakishly tiny! During this time in design, my interest was peaked at a new medium called the ‘BBC Micro’, unlike felt-tip pens this medium didn’t leave my hands covered in ink which was also appreciated by my parents.
1991 - 1994
Having not been academically brilliant at high school (possibly linked to being run over by a car in the February before my GCSEs and being a jibbering wreck for the following year or so) my time at Art College was somewhat longer than my peers. A year’s foundations course was required to qualify me to attend my preferred course in visual communication. It was during this time at College that I perfected my 8 ball pool and football skills with many a long afternoon spent in the bus station cafe and on the football pitches. 4 to 6 weeks at a time was more than enough time to allow me to diversify into recreation and learning. While I wasn’t the best illustrator, the best airbrusher, the best painter, the best photographer, the best art historian, I decided to become the best computer aided designer (that I could be) and it was in this format that I started to ‘find my way’.
1991 - 1994
Having managed to land a one-day-a-week release from Art College to gain work experience with the local newspaper in Hereford I was lucky enough to turn that into a full-time position, once I had passed my college course with honours. Armed with a copy of Corel Draw for Non-Nerds hidden away in my lunchbox as I was a MAC Monkey and not a Windows Guy I proceeded to blag my way into the industry. So successful was this blag that within a few months I was training other graphic artists in the newspaper group how to use Corel Draw successfully. During the next 4 years I gained a wealth of experience in dealing with advertisers, sales reps and angry printers who were frustrated in my ability to create complex full-page adverts that were FAR too large to go through the rip and would constantly crash the print servers… causing many late nights and anger at the Worcester Evening News printworks.
Staying within the newspaper group I was selected to be the lead designer for a new venture called ‘NewsQuest New Media‘ where we would be making something called a website? At this early time, it was not really known if this internet craze would continue to gather pace but it was decided we would take a chance and see what happened… I soon became a designer in notepad and much to my utter disgust… Microsoft Frontpage (((shudder))). At this time I became a HUGE fan of Macromedia and its software called Fireworks & Dreamweaver.
In 1999 my first child was born. On that day I left my role in the newspaper group and moved on to become the graphic designer / web designer / I.T guru / odd job man / and any number of others hats that would fit over the next fourteen years.
Working for a very successful specialist training company where most members of staff entered the building through the window via ropes from the roof and had black lines over their eyes so that they couldn’t be identified by the inquisitive public I spent many happy years here. Beginning with a staff of just three in the early years and leaving as a Company Director with office locations worldwide I am incredibly proud of the part I played in the successes we had between 1999 and 2013. Leaving here in 2013 was the hardest decision I had ever had to make but it was now time to step up and see what I could do moving forward.
And so it begins…
Armed with a new laptop, new software (which I later find out was pirated) and eager anticipation I wait for my phone to start ringing… and I wait… and I wait! It was in these early days of setting up the business I failed to understand why people were not jumping at the chance to work with the greatest designer in the world, or possibly just the UK…, maybe Hereford… or at least in my house (excluding the dog).
I had a clever play on words with my business name which I thought should do me well in regards to Search Engine ranking Here For Design and very slowly the work started to come in. In all honesty, rather than the flood I was expecting I could say it was probably a slow trickle at best. It was at this point that I decided I needed to consider my options! I would continue to run my business but I needed to earn money doing something else… A builders labourer and an apprenticeship in the renovations of sash windows was the way it went.
Having realised that windows were better being restored when I was nowhere near them and the building site is cold, wet and darn right tough on my soft hands the good people of the world realised their mistakes and started to call 07764 150923 whenever they were in need of a new logo, a business card, a flyer or a website.
I love what I do, and I would love to do if for you too! Basically, I paint with pixels! I sit at my desk all day, normally listening to Talksport and conversing with my office manager ‘Phoebe’. Whilst I have asked Phoebe to contribute a little more in regards to the successful running of Here For Design she has not yet mastered answering the telephone, making tea or coffee or any form of computer-aided design – that said she has been known to bark at the router from time to time.
I would, however, like to thank the poor builder (my brother) who put up with my ineptness as a labourer during the startup – to this end I made him the most simple of websites and a set of business cards to apologise! I would also like to thank Sliding Sash Solutions who soon realised I would be better suited looking after their website than their customers’ windows (no windows were severely harmed during the process of my learning curve).