New Blood 2013: Horrible Truths by Elmwood

The night after the G&Ts ( brilliant idea that was Mr Phillips!) I have to admit, I was feeling a little groggy but the Elmwood talk by Simon and Rob (Lincoln alumni) made everything better.

After walking to the wrong talk (again, I blame the G&Ts but the Albion studio looked lovely ha) Emma & I eventually made it to the D&AD office:

The talk from Rob and Simon of Elmwood‘s Leeds studio was really helpful, taking an honest approach to the situation us young designers are finding ourselves in and talking about the ‘horrible truths’. Unless you’ve had your head in the sand, as a design student, you know things are going to be tough – long hours, small pay packets and sometimes the worst tasks. As graduates we’re the bottom of the food chain, but learn from experience, work hard and take on board these horrible truths:

1.There is never enough time.

Having a longer deadline doesn’t mean that the work you produce will be any better. Infact having a shorter amount of time makes you a better editor and teaches you not to waste time. Simon and Rob advised to be ruthless, trust your instincts and rather than producing 12 mediocre ideas, produce 2 fantastic ones.

2. There is always someone better than you.

A scary but true thought – you can’t be good at everything but you CAN work with someone that is amazing at one particular thing. Simon and Rob advised: learn from them, be inspired, work with them. Simon shared an anecdote about working on a project art directing – he worked with illustrators who had the skills and he had the vision.

3. There are lots of really boring briefs.

Well, I think we all knew about those, right? Simon and Rob advised to see ‘boring’ briefs as an opportunity to make it exciting. A lot of the time you will be pitching to a boardroom of business men in suits – show them something exciting! As an example, Simon and Rob told us about how they turned a boring powerpoint into a fun animation:

4. You are dealing with the unknown.

This is one of the things I love about being a creative – the vast range and variety of people and businesses that we get to deal with. Graphic Designers have to be intelligent and interested in everything – we have to learn about all kinds of things to understand our clients. Simon and Rob told us anecdotes about visiting a duck farm for the day to gain some hands on experience about a brand they were working with.

5. Having a good idea is never enough.

Sometimes you might pitch the best idea ever, for it to fall flat. Rob and Simon explained that in a way you are not only selling the idea, but yourself as a person. You need to be likeable and make them want to work with you – get them to buy you and the design. Tell a great story. Some agencies hire people just to ‘story tell’/ sell to clients – they have the gift of the gab! But it’s not all about talking the talk – you have to be a good listener too. If you can listen to what the client wants, the result will be better and what they wanted, rather than wasting time and having to redo work.

Overall, I thought it was a great talk with brilliant advice and helpful insights into real life in the industry. Thanks again to Simon and Rob for taking the time to talk to us, and it was good to see more  Lincoln Alumni doing well!

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© Natasha Nuttall | January 2022

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