We cannot stress enough the importance of self-initiated work. This one small thing has been the biggest factor in us A) Winning bigger work & B) Hiring the right people.
We’ve talked in depth about the value these projects have had for us, but from a student’s perspective, they could be equally as helpful.
When it comes to leaving Uni & looking for a job, who’s portfolio is going to stand out the most to employers - The one just full of Uni work? - Or the person who has a handful of Uni work, some self-initiated experiments, a few projects for friends, maybe even a couple of real-life clients they’ve picked up?
Back in 2014 we hired our first designer, lovely chap named Luke. He had a fairly solid portfolio of Uni work, but what really stood out were the posters he’d made for his mates BBQ night. Great copy, nice choice of paper stock, some lovely hand-drawn type. To him this was a quick little job for a friend, but for us it showed he had real potential.
Our most recent hiring was a young Illustrator called Emily. We were that impressed that she’d organised her own Calligraphy Club at Uni, that we had to meet her. She started freelancing for us almost straight away and soon after we offered her a full time position.
The people who undertake lots of these projects, are the ones that see creativity as a way of life, not just a job. They live & breathe it. They want to push themselves to try new things and to improve on their weaknesses. These are the people we want to be working alongside.
Back in 2007 when we’d just finished our education it was tough to promote yourself. Websites were hard to make & social media wasn’t a thing yet. We tried setting up a little design studio back then for some extra beer money. Ol & myself printed some flyers & dropped them into local businesses. We were called Olive Design (half Oli, half Dave... terrible right?) and in short, it was a complete flop. Of the 50 flyers we printed, I think we binned 43. We didn’t have a clue how to talk to businesses, which meant we struggled to get through the doors & show people our work.
Fast forward to 2020, and the landscape is very different. Let’s say you try something new, it looks pretty cool, so you stick it on a Behance page or your ‘Gram. What’s stopping the marketing team from a big company getting in touch about using your new typeface, or commissioning you to do a bespoke mural?
Absolutely nothing. Trust us, we’ve been there. In 2015 we’d been pissing around with tactile typography in our spare time, when suddenly Sainsbury’s called & offered us tens of thousands to do it for them 😳🙌😳.
In general, people aren’t that deep. Show them something they like & there’s a good chance they’ll pay you for it.