Designer Talks Podcast

Designer Talks podcast Ep. 1 - Jamie Ellul

May 06, 2021 Jamie Ellul FCSD Season 1 Episode 1
Designer Talks Podcast
Designer Talks podcast Ep. 1 - Jamie Ellul
Designer Talks Podcast +
Help us continue making great content for listeners everywhere.
Starting at $3/month
Support
Show Notes Transcript

Designer Talks podcast asking designers, how they do it, why they do it and what makes them tick and what design means to them, hosted and produced by Lefteris Heretakis aCSDf.

In 2007 as a senior freelance designer, Jamie worked with The Partners, 300million, fivefootsix and Wiedemann Lampe before establishing Magpie Studio in a pub in early 2008 with two of his best buddies. Magpie Studio went on to become one of the UK’s most internationally awarded agencies (6th in the Design Week Creative Survey 2013) working with household names from Apple to the British Heart Foundation, Nike to Royal Mail.

In 2013 Jamie relocated to Bath where he started Supple Studio (not in a pub this time). Bringing with him a wealth of experience and an enviable list of clients. Over the years he's written various articles for the British design press and has been awarded a plethora of pieces of wood, metal and paper – eighteen D&AD Awards (including three silver nominations, an Impact Award and two Yellow Pencils), thirteen Design Week Awards, two ADC NY Silver Awards and a Cannes Gold Lion for branding. But he never got himself the elusive record deal he was really after. 

Twitter: @jamie_ellul @supplestudio

Website: https://supplestudio.com


Follow us at @csdminerva
Read our latest news on Linktree
Membership csd.org.uk

Lefteris Heretakis:

Hello, and welcome to the very first episode of designer talk podcast from the charter Society of designers. I'm your host Lefteris Heretakis. And our guest today is Jamie eylul. Welcome, Jamie.

Jamie Ellul:

Hey Lefteris.

Lefteris Heretakis:

Its fantastic to have you here. It's great. Great.

Jamie Ellul:

This is very exciting to start. I'm honoured to be the first guest.

Lefteris Heretakis:

Fantastic. So tell us about you.

Jamie Ellul:

Okay, so I'm Jamie Alo. I'm a graphic designer, I run an agency called software studio, based in Basque, in the UK, we've been going almost eight years. So it'd be our eighth birthday at the end of this month. So end of May. And we're a small agency, a team of five. And that's kind of purposely quite small, kind of, you know, and I'll talk about that, I guess, as we as we chat later. And be a team of five new project managers or anything like that. It's all just purely design. And we specialise in brand identities and brand campaigns. And that's kind of us in a nutshell. Really. Fantastic, fantastic. So when did you realise you want to be a designer. And I think I was always, you know, an arty kid, I was always sitting and drawing. And, you know, looking back, I was that kid in the class that was good at bubble writing, and those kind of things. And I think I was about 10 years old, when I got bought a set of pencils that said graphic designer on them. So they were like a set of kind of different grades of pencil. And I've still got the box and only found it a few years ago. But you know, I think that was the first time I saw the term graphic designer written down, didn't really still understand what it was, you know, because it the drawing on the cover was like a kind of like Celtic knot work was needed that nothing to do with graphic design. But yeah, and then I did a, I did a graphic design, GCSE and a level. And to be honest, they put me off graphic design, because now looking back, they weren't, they weren't graphic design at all, it was very much product design, really, and a lot of kind of orthographic and planimetric, drawing that kind of stuff, which is, you know, obviously a good basis for design. But it wasn't graphic design. It wasn't kind of typography, it was quite free computers, it was in the 90s. So we didn't really use computer software or anything like that it was all on a drawing board. And I got to the end of the a level and just felt like Actually, I don't think I want to do this, if this is what graphic design is. And I basically got a job. So I kind of I didn't go to university straight off. I worked at a software company. And I got a job through the job centre actually, as a marketing assistant there. And it was through that job by obviously, as a software company, I was sat at a computer all day. And I've never really worked at a computer before I had that job. And I started to use this programme called hot metal pro that was like a very early into that web design bit of software. And I used to look after the internet company and design that. And also use this thing called freelance graphics, which was which sounds very cool. But it wasn't it was just like a really bad PowerPoint. And but through those things, I started to design stuff on a computer and started to experiment with that. And around the same time I was I'm also a musician. And at that point, that was what I felt like I wanted to do so I just had this day job at a software company and I wanted to play in bands. And you know, I was gonna it was the 90s Britpop was blowing up and I was like, yeah, I'm just going to be the next big thing on the Britpop scene, which obviously didn't happen. That's another story. But I guess as part of that, I started to design posters and CD covers and tape covers and all that kind of stuff. And it was through that really, that I've properly discovered what graphic design was, and also the software company that I worked out employed a freelance graphic designer who came in and worked on projects, and whilst I was there actually rebranded the company. That was my first experience of that side of graphic design, I guess. Not that they did a particularly marvellous job or anything like that. But yeah, it was just interesting to sort of see that from the inside as part of the marketing team. And so I guess, I guess it was probably by that point about 21 and decided that you know, You know, just hang all my hopes on becoming a musician, professionally. So I decided to go back to college. So I signed up, I actually went for an interview to do a Art Foundation. And the guy that interviewed me said, Well, I think you're a natural graphic designer, because I had all these posters and things that are designed, as well as you know, my kind of our portfolio. And yeah, he just said, what do you do instead of doing a year? As an as an Art Foundation, why don't you just do a year of the Diploma in a national Diploma in graphic design? So I kind of did that in a year rather than two years. I kind of fast track that. And I guess it was by the end of that, but I felt like yeah, I can do this. And also, at the end of that, I was really lucky. One of the cheaters there knew a guy called Rob O'Connor, who started stylo boosh, back in the 90s. They were like the album cover designers, you know, they were doing incredible stuff. But Blair, cooter shaker, and David Bowie, loads, loads of different artists. And she got me a wet placement there only for a week. But that really just kind of opened my eyes up to studio life and designing as a as a as a job rather than a kind of hobby. And yeah, I guess that was the point where I really painted sort of 2122 that I really felt like, yeah, this is the job for me.

Lefteris Heretakis:

That's fantastic. So tell us a little bit about the code a bit of your education. It was very interesting. You You went later into education? Yeah. But how did you feel that that contributed to your,

Jamie Ellul:

I think actually, like, at the time, I felt like, I felt a bit annoyed that the a level that I'd done, it kind of put me off design and almost stalled my career to a certain degree. But I think actually, I kind of felt like, also, you know, just coming coming over only, like, you know, I don't have three years of education, but it just gave me a very different outlook on the way that I approached my design course. So I'd kind of been working nine to five, and I just treated going to art college like that, you know, I've got their nine, and I finished at five. And, and so instead of like, you know, both people would kind of wander in DOS about leave a lunchtime. You know, I didn't kind of have that approach. And I also just felt like, I had an urgency, I guess to, to do well, and to sort of speed through that course, and come out of it and get a job. And partly because I was then, you know, living at home, I'd been paying rent and stuff to my parents before that. And now I was a student, I couldn't afford to do that. So yeah, so I think actually, in hindsight, it was a good thing. And it just made me get my head down and really kind of apply myself. And yeah, and then I and then I was just super lucky. So I'd signed up to do this foundation at Somerset College in Taunton in Somerset. And I'd ended up on this national diploma. And then there was also a course upstairs to do a degree in graphic design. And I kind of felt like I should move to London and, you know, go to St. Martin's, or somewhere sort of famous like that, but I'd sort of heard of, but the tutor the kind of course leader from the from the BA, came down to where we were studying in the in the basement, and he did this amazing slideshow of the work that comes out of that course. And then he kind of gave us a tour of the studio space upstairs. And the walls in the hallway were just lined with DNA ID certificates. And the work was just amazing. And, you know, he did a really compelling talk. And, you know, I just felt Well actually, this course seems really good. It's on my doorstep. I'm already here. And so I applied to that course got on. And then another stroke of luck really was there on my first day. Our tutor that was supposed to be teaching us for that first year was basically on long term sick, which we didn't know but we turned up in the first day and we got an intro from the course leader just saying, actually your lecture is off Second Amendment say you're going to have the part time lecturer as a full time lecturer. So four days a week. And those lectures were a guy called witch hunt. And a guy called Malcolm's watch church in which they were both in there kind of like I guess they're sick early 60s at this point. And maybe maybe late 50s, maybe I'm doing them in justice. But it turned out as we progress through the course that we found out, they were both on the legends of widget worked in advertising. Malcolm was one of the founders of the partners, very famous design agency, who are now part of CP union, this sort of BM off of the design world. And so yeah, so we just got this amazing grounding in graphic design. And they introduced us to, you know, at that point, I felt like I just want to be know, I thought graphic design was style, I guess, and I, I wanted to design album covers, and I wanted to do this stuff that I sort of saw on posters, and I, you know, I just wanted, I just thought it was all kind of about trend and fashion, and art direction and stuff. And first day of the course, they just gave us this reading list. And everyone's kind of shot to the bookshop. And we all bought these books. And top of that list was a book called smile in the mind, which is all about ideas, and, and wit in design. And, yeah,

Lefteris Heretakis:

I think you can see Yeah, at the edge, I could see it in the background.

Jamie Ellul:

And it's kind of it's not, you know, these days, it's not a fashionable book, it's not, I think there's, there's, there's a bit of a kind of division in the graphic design world of like, this smile and the mind people in the style people. And for me, it's never been about that. I think it's about blurring and mixing bait, and I think having a foot in both camps. And you know, I think these days, everything is a mixed important part anyway. And I just think there's no kind of barriers and divisions between things. But I think what that book did for me was just sort of opened me up to the, to the idea of coming up with ideas. So I've kind of starting idea first and then choosing the style appropriately to wrap that up. And, and so that was a real turning point. For me, and a lot of the people on our course, was the we were just purely just thinking about ideas. And we weren't allowed on a computer for the first year, even though this is to probably 1998 or 99, that that was our first year of that course. And, you know, we were like, Oh, we just want to jump on a Mac and get it done. But they were like, No, no, no, you know, you've got to hand render all your typography, you've got to get these type books out these specimen books and kind of trace and it was like, at the time, we were like,

Unknown:

Oh my god, what

Jamie Ellul:

is this all about? And I remember like doing a Swiss typography project and being there on a lightbox until like nine or 10 o'clock at night and tracing Helvetica and kind of like swearing about it, and you know, just being really annoying. And then, and then, you know, looking back, it was kind of like that Karate Kid, Mr. Miyagi moment of like wax on wax off, you know, cleaning cars, and painting fences. And it was we were just learning all these craft skills, learning to curve and learn to really think about typography, not just typing it into computer changing the typeface. And that's it, you know, you, you were just thinking about the space between everything. And so yeah, so that that first year of that course, and just so lucky that, you know, not to do a disservice to the cheetah that we were supposed to have. But we ended up with these two legends for a whole year. And I think that just completely changed my pathway, in my view on graphic design. And also just, it just meant even actually, after a year, I had a really good portfolio. And say, I then spent my second year trying to get as many work placements as I could. So we had a really good industry connection at Somerset college, there are a lot of alumni out in the, in the world working in industry. And so yeah, so I just kind of whenever replacement would come available, you know, they'd put a notice up on the board, and I'd just apply for it. And so I ended up doing about five or six placements in my, in my second year. And, you know, and also trying to juggle my coursework and everything at the same time. But it meant that, you know, I basically left that summer. And I managed to get a job by September, and I didn't go back and finish my PhD basically. So not a good advert to that, of course, but you know, we were lucky we could do, we could do a hnd in two years, and then a top up ba so you had an option to to not go back and I just felt like well, if I can make this happen if I can get a job at the end of this year, then I'll do that if I don't get a job. I'll go back and finish the BA and I was just really lucky and I got a job with Patrick design and that's where my Korea started in 2001.

Lefteris Heretakis:

Fantastic, fantastic. So how about your background, you come from a creative background and that was your background sort of approving of your of your choice.

Jamie Ellul:

My parents were really supportive. But not not creative on paper, like my dad was a policeman. So my dad was in the met in London. And when I was about nine, we moved to Somerset, and he transferred to the police in a tiny village called Barrington, Bristol. And then he kind of left the place and had a stint running a shop, a clothing shop for kids, which was a disaster because he was kind of important, amazing, the latest kind of kids fashion from London and trying to sell it in Somerset. And at that time in the 90s, late 80s, that wasn't really working out. They weren't quite up to speed. And my mom was a kind of homemaker and, you know, an amazing, amazing mom. And before that she was a bookkeeper. But um, but my dad, you know, my dad's kind of creative, you know, the only I love what he got was inside it. He wasn't particularly academic at school, he was more kind of sporty and stuff. But um, yeah, my dad's always been good at calligraphy and things like that, and kind of grew up with him, you know, having a calligraphy set in the house and things like that. And my mom is kind of naturally quite musical. So yeah, so not like, not the kind of classic thing that didn't quite work in class. But even to this day, my brother and I are the only people in our entire family network, and we've got really big family who have been to university, and my brother studied music at university. And, you know, and even now, none of the kind of cousins and things have been to university. So we're very much kind of that kind of working class kind of approach. But, but my parents were just super supportive of us. And just let us do what we had a passion for, you know, they just were very, you know, like, when we were in the music, my dad sold his car and bought a kind of like, people carrier so that we could get the band in and get all the it was like a splitter thing where we could get all the gear in the back and, you know, drove us to gigs and stuff, particularly for my brother, he was too young to drive. And so yeah, so they've always been really supportive. But no, not not, we're not like, you know, the parent of an artist or architect or even that.

Lefteris Heretakis:

The you would you have done something else, if you had not chosen to be a designer,

Jamie Ellul:

I think I think, you know, if the music thing that happened to me, then I would have done that. My brother, my brother was different to me. And he was like, This is what I'm gonna do, I'm just gonna be a musician, and he never, ever took a day job, or, you know, he's never gave in and just kind of stuck stuck at it and is kind of late 20s, he got a record deal. And now he's pushing 40. And he makes it really comfortable living out of being a musician. So yeah, that would have been the other calling for me, I guess, you know, it'd still be you know, I've actually, in the last few years, as my kids have got older, and I've got a bit more time on my hands. I've got back into play music and play with my brother and some other musicians. And we're definitely play by play the electric bass and double bass and a little bit of guitar. Yeah. Not to a decent level. So yeah, it would have been that I think those are the only ticket. No, two things I'm good at. Basically,

Lefteris Heretakis:

I almost became very interested in this very interesting parallel between design. And I think there

Jamie Ellul:

is I think there is the faith, obviously, very creative. And I think also, for me, music is, you know, there's a lot of parallels design, you know, I much prefer designing with other people and working in a team and bouncing off each other and sharing ideas and massaging those ideas into something interesting. And similarly, with music, you know, I like to do a thing with my brother at the moment. And a friend of ours, he's playing drums, and we just literally would, walking into a room with a rough idea, or sometimes No idea. And maybe putting on a record that we like, and then trying to write something in the vein of that, you know, whether it's like, you know, might be Bowie or it might be the Velvet Underground or something we will listen to and then we'll try and write a song. And we were sort of pushing ourselves to write and record that. Some that same session, so we might have like a four hour session. And that's a really interesting way to work and you just sort of, you know, you just read You're really working super fast. And there's a spontaneity and an energy to that. And you know, I think it's similar in design Really?

Lefteris Heretakis:

Absolutely. Absolutely. So who has been your biggest influence?

Jamie Ellul:

So I think that's mine in the mind, but was a big influence. And through that, I think the sort of, I guess they're Heroes for me. And they're sort of peppered through that book, massively. Fletcher books, Gil, said this godfathers of pentagram, you know, for me that that kind of a lot of that work is still really timeless and still stands up. And although some of the star things maybe look a bit dated, the ideas, and in fact, some of the stuff stuff looks like it was done yesterday, which is amazing. Yeah. And so yeah, that, that they were real heroes, for me, particularly Bob Gill, just in terms of, you know, his sort of writing and education stuff. And, you know, just real inspiration, he just he just like an ideas machine. And just so versatile and not kind of scared of just doing anything. And sort of seeing designers just like, well, if I want to design some film credits, and I'll do some film credits in if I'm going to do a stationary range, or this station range, and I'm going to design a book, and I'm going to do this poster and you know, just kind of no barriers. And so that's been a big inspiration. And then I guess, also, I was lucky. So my first job was at hattrick design. So by David Kimpton and Garth our, and Jim Sutherland. And Jim is, to me is kind of like, now that we've lost Alan Fletcher, he's the kind of closest to that, I think, in the desert design industry. Just in the in terms of the sort of, you know, very prolific, prolific and very playful and what he does, and there's just a real joy to his work. And, you know, he's a, again, our count him as a very good friend, but also a mentor and a big inspiration. And so yeah, those are my sort of top ones.

Lefteris Heretakis:

brilliant, brilliant, what has been your biggest mistake,

Jamie Ellul:

I think I've probably deleted most of my big mistakes of the hard drive have, I think there's one, I think my first big mistake is you always learn from these things and never do them again. Again, this is a how to design and we were designing like a marketing suite for property development. And I had, it was back in the day when Getty would have to scan transparencies and send them to you. Rather than everything being digital. We basically had this like things like a four by three metre wall that was going to be covered in this massive grass imaging, Getty sent me the pirate scan, which was huge. And I stupidly didn't kind of zoom in and check it in detail. And it got printed, and that had this huge hair on it, which, which, you know, on my screen would have probably been about, I donate to Milan, but on a huge walk. It was about 40 centimetres long or something, and I got a lot of shit for it. And obviously it had to get reprinted. And so yeah, but that was, you know, a kind of classic Junior designer moment of just like, making a huge screw up and having to fix that. And, and yeah, you know, I think we make mistakes here all the time. And we're only human, but we always try and rectify them as quickly as possible, empower hands up and be honest about it, and, you know, come up with a solution. And so, you know, I'm not scared of making mistakes, or my team making mistakes. But, you know, we try and put things in place, particularly in terms of like, the sort of the last 10% of a project is really important here, we make sure that the stuff that goes out the door is very kind of tight and looked after and, and crafted. And, you know, we've got our word checklist, everyone kind of goes through and usually get a second pair of eyes on things. And so we try to avoid past mistakes. But yeah, they happen.

Lefteris Heretakis:

I remember a similar story within overprint preview

Jamie Ellul:

code. Yeah, we have one of those. We've had those as well. Yeah.

Lefteris Heretakis:

What are your, your principles, design principles.

Jamie Ellul:

So I made a note of some of these actually, because, yeah. So it's hard to remember these things. And I think as I've kind of mentioned Honesty is a big one. So, honesty and transparency and with our clients and and as a team, really important. Hard work, you know, I think I'm super dedicated to this into sort of the clients that we work with and to making them look good. And, you know, I've kind of come to realise that our job is, you know, required from working with a marketing manager or brand manager, whoever it might be, and they've got a boss, you know, he's probably got a boss, and it's all, it's all just about, making people look good. And say, helping them you know, through the process, and, and that kind of stuff. I think empathy is really important, again, as a team, but also with your clients. And, you know, more and more the sort of values for me, and the principles for the supple are about doing good design for good people, that hopefully does get to the planet. So we're kind of one of the things we're talking about a lot at the moment, and we're just starting the ball rolling on this right now is becoming a B Corp. And where, you know, I'd say probably about 30 to 40% of the clients that we've got at the moment and not for profits, or some kind of social or environmental impact organisations. And that's what I'm really passionate about, at the moment is is an hopefully will be forever. It's just sort of seeing that design can make a bit of a difference, you know, I'm not going to solve everything, but but I feel like we have a duty to use our creativity to help solve some of the issues. And, you know, we're working with, we just achieve today working on a project for the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which is all about the circular economy when you're working with clients, so that is a real education for us. And hopefully, we can create content from their thinking and their research that communicates and hopefully engages more people and gets more people involved in that way of thinking. So that's the kind of stuff really that is core to how we want to be working.

Lefteris Heretakis:

Yeah, you just picked up on one of the questions. Should designers be expected to solve everything these days? It's like, okay, you just apply design? And how is that? How's that working?

Jamie Ellul:

Yeah, I mean, we can't, we can't fix everything. But I think, I think creative thinking can be applied in all walks of life and all types of disciplines, whether that's science or, you know, kind of policymaking or whatever it might be, I think, thinking laterally and thinking outside the box. And and, yeah, I think challenging the norms, you know, that kind of design thinking can be applied across the board. And I think that, that can help solve lots of bigger issues. I think designing a poster to stop climate change isn't going to work.

Lefteris Heretakis:

So how do you relate to Design Awards? are they important? Or do you think they just scraped the surface of design?

Jamie Ellul:

Well, he can see all the ones behind me, I'm in the meeting room here, and there's a big pile of pencils on the wall. And I've got a kind of love hate relationship. I think, I think they are important in that they're good, with the good, the good ones, and, you know, the DNA, DS and DBAs, and the kind of very rigorous Design Awards. I think they are, they are good benchmark of creativity and effectiveness and things like that. And, you know, they've worked for us in the past, from a sort of new business point of view, they attract good creatives that equip they attract talent, particularly younger talent. You know, they'll see they see our work in DNA D, or they see our Instagram post that we want to do an ad or something, you know, they're like, Oh, I want to work somewhere like that, because obviously doing good work. So from that point of view, I think they've got a role to play. I think on the flip side of that, you know, that can be very expensive. You can have ideas where things don't get in, and it's not, you know, I've judged these things and, and it's obviously always about the mix of people in the room judging that work. So, you know, I think you could put that same room full of work and change the jury and you'll get a different result. Basically, so there's a certain lottery to I think, you know, there's a certain randomness to it. But, you know, having, you know, I'd kind of I, you can tell that I'm kind of divided here, I took a year where we took a year, a sample, where we didn't enter any awards at all, as a bit of an experiment, and we used the money that we would have spent on awards, and the time that we would have spent entering them, because it takes time to put together these boards and things, of course, to design a book, and an oily bathroom, bird landed during lockdown one. So we haven't even been able to really launch it, because we've wanted to have an event. And, you know, that was always part of the plan. But you know, we've still used it as a new business tool and things like that. And so we have that year. And I felt like, Well, you know, I could spend 1000 pounds into an awards and maybe have the wrong jury, or they just wouldn't like our work, or maybe we wouldn't hit the mark, and we'd walk away with nothing. Or I could spend 1000 pounds and printer really lucky. But I will definitely get at the end of that, because I pay 1000 pounds, and you definitely get something, there's no lottery involved. And so we did that. And, and also just to see if, you know, stop new business coming in, and things like that. And it didn't to be honest. But we definitely found you know, there's a couple of Design Awards that we enter electrons for, and DNA D, where they have led to new business things, particularly transformer, it's very much about rebrands, and brand and branding from scratch, which is a lot of what we do. And so we decided this year to enter those two, purely from a kind of new business point of view. But to kind of limit it to that, really, we've entered a couple of packaging ones strategically for a packaging project that we've done. Because we don't do that much packaging, and we want to do more of it. And hopefully, IBM at that will kind of get our name out there, and that kind of stuff. But you know, I think I think Design Awards, you know, when I graduated in 2001, I think they were really important because that was the only way that you saw the best work. And you know, as a student, I would pour through DNA Daniels and look at all this amazing work. Partly because hardly any design agencies in the late 90s had a website, you know, they might have a holding page with their address on it. And that would be it. These days, the landscape is totally different as social media, there's amazing websites, people are launching projects, onto their social media and their websites, you know, the day that they launch as a brand, or whatever it might be. And so you can just get your work out there much more quickly. There's blogs that then cover that there's magazines, online magazines, you know, it's it's changed? I think so I think that

Lefteris Heretakis:

they caught them. Yeah, of course, you know, about portfolios, and having the A to portfolio opening on a wall. And, you know, while you're sort of looking at other work,

Unknown:

yeah, yeah.

Lefteris Heretakis:

You know, it's,

Jamie Ellul:

it's, you know, I think, I think the ennedi, you know, having touched it last year, it was really rigorous and really fair. And we spent a long time debating things and the work that what was the best work in the room, you know, and, and then plus the money with the lady goes back into education, any surplus becomes, you know, bring it on the next generation, and they're doing a lot more stuff with things like DNA, the DNA D shift, where they're trying to target more of a kind of widening participation is kind of the usual crowd. But hopefully pushing diversity in design and getting more working class people into the design world, which I'm really, you know, very passionate about as someone who sort of come from a working class backgrounds and not kind of been given this all on a plate of how to, you know, work for it. And yeah, I think, I think so. So yeah, yes and no, is the answer.

Lefteris Heretakis:

Yeah, what what are the skills are needed? For designer? And what and what how do you find the research, but really about the skills that the designer needs?

Jamie Ellul:

I think, I think kinds of skills, I think it's about being obviously you need to be able to use a computer and, and that kind of stuff. And I think that's those skills are given these days. And I think, particularly new designers are just coming through they've grown up with touchscreens and computers and all those things. And so they're just very computer literate. That stuff I think, can be taught and it's really easy, I think. I think the design thinking and an idea generation is, is the key thing and that's what What really differentiates designers? For me, that's what I'm really looking for, particularly undergraduate is someone who's thinking outside the box, and just doing interesting work and thinking about things differently and very laterally and stuff. I think the other skills, you know, which I think then as you develop as a designer, are really about time management, a lot of design and what people don't realise that being a professional designer is just about managing your time really well, absolutely, I feel like the more senior you get, you obviously get quicker on the tools, they also get quicker at making decisions, and you get quicker at deciding what to prioritise. And you get used to working in chunks of work, and maybe doing an hour of this and an hour of something else and dipping in and out. Whereas I think when you're a junior designer, you might sit down and just design one thing for three days, or whatever it might be, you know, you don't get that luxury as you become more senior. And you're managing more and more things and more and more projects, to get the best designers I worked with just really organised. You know, it's kind of pretty basic stuff. But, you know, if you're really good at design, you can design your time, and you almost invent time, in a way, by doing that, you know, he kind of been a deadline driven, business and sector that we're in. That's, that's like, what everything's about his time Really?

Lefteris Heretakis:

How do you maintain enthusiasm? And where does your inspiration come from?

Jamie Ellul:

So I think, I mean, my enthusiasm comes from the fact that we just get some amazing briefs for amazing people who we get to work in all different sectors and all different sizes of company. And, you know, that kind of keeps it interesting and spicy. And it means that, you know, as a team, and as sort of business owner, I don't get bored. So, so that keeps me interested. And also just get the fear still, for a new brief, you know, I always feel like, we're only as good as our last project. And so, when a new brief comes in, you know, I just want us to do the best work that we can do, and say, this kind of feeling of fear, you know, positive feeling of fear kicks in where it's like, like, that's my, that's my motivation is to not let the client down and to just design something and present something that's going to knock their socks off. And that, I think, is like the biggest inspiration. You know, that's what keeps me going. I think.

Lefteris Heretakis:

I found that there are these 10 year cycles, the strange 10 year cycles in, in the creative, and you found that every like, every or every certain period of time, you have to kind of see your work and and take it in in a different direction. Because you have changed direction.

Jamie Ellul:

Yeah, yeah, definitely. I mean, I've kind of had like a, until supple, I've never worked anywhere more than five years. And so I get this kind of itchy feet kind of moment. So I worked at Patrick for about four and a half, five years, an animator, an agency called blast and the work there for two years. And then as well then a freelance for a couple of years. And then I set up an agency with a couple of mates called my quest studio. And again, I did that for five years. And then my priorities changed, had a family and stuff and decided to move to bath and leave London. And I think as well as my priorities changing, I think I've I've sort of become less of a designer and more just kind of running a business and doing a bit of creative direction. And, you know, really only opening InDesign to, to send an invoice or write a proposal or put together a presentation or whatever it might be. And I kind of felt like I was missing the bit that I really enjoyed, which was still, you know, like coming up with ideas, but also like, designing them and making them come to life and, and so I you know, I have these moments and that was one of those moments where I'd sort of fallen out of love with my job. And so I've i guess i reinvented my job and and left agency started this one decided to keep it really small so that we could kind of stay very hands on not have loads of admin stuff and kind of account handlers and that kind of stuff. And yet it just kind of stay stay on the tools to a certain degree and obviously I can't do that all the time. And I have other Have commitments and things and there's a business to run as well as is that stuff. But yeah, and that's kind of kept me I think, in love with what I do, because I still do get to design things and see them through to the end. And for me, creativity is about creating something tangible at the end of it. And whether that's recording some music, or designing a logo or designing a book, or whatever it might be, I just love that process of starting with nothing and ending with something. And I just want to keep doing that, I guess.

Lefteris Heretakis:

Absolutely. So what would be your advice to somebody starting out now as a designer? And at the same time, what would you advise to clients?

Jamie Ellul:

I think it's the same for both really, I think it's, it's like, be kind and honest. And, and, you know, be build relationships. I think I'm really lucky that we've got one client in particular, so royal mouth, who've been a client that I've worked with since the hattrick day, so since 2002, to now suggest, like, 19 years, and I mean, from a continuity point of view, really lucky that the same team is still there, 19 years later, which is obviously very unusual for any client really to stick around that long. But that's just the classic example of just something that's purely just a relationship. It's not just about us doing good work in and then being happy with that. But there's a there's a friendship and a trust that's built over that time. And, you know, I can point to lots of different clients. And, you know, I've got clients that have moved from company to company and taken us with them multiple times. And that's led to multiple client relationships. But yeah, it's all just about people, really. And you've just got to remember that, that everyone is trying to do their job. And they're, they've all got the same worries and anxieties and things like that. And, and, you know, it's just the kind of relationship that should be to weigh in. It's not just about, hopefully, we're not just giving them a service. We're kind of going beyond that. And so yeah, and I think that just runs across the board. And it runs both ways, from client to designer, and back again. Yeah,

Lefteris Heretakis:

absolutely. What's the most important thing you've learned as a designer?

Jamie Ellul:

I think it goes back to that time management thing that I talked about earlier, actually. Yeah, the more and more I think about it, the more I realised that, what I get better at, you know, obviously, I learn things all the time, and I'm learning from clients, I'm learning from projects, and, you know, I'm running better ways to do things. But I'm also just getting better and better at managing my time, realising I can't do everything, delegating, you know, I'm really lucky that I've got super talented team. And I feel totally confident giving them projects to do and, and then looking after them. And obviously, I'm, you know, as a creative director, I'm overseeing those things. But, you know, not being afraid to let go, I think is really key. And idea, and then just being able to manage your time and prioritise your time, I think, realising what's most important today, making those quick decisions on that kind of stuff. Is, is the is the kind of key to being being good at what you do, I think, and I do really feel that, you know, even just watching the design team here, you know, people that have come in at junior level and then become seniors. And you just see them grow as a designer, and they get better the ideas thing, and they get better at decision making, and they get better at crafting an idea and styling and things like that. But the key thing they get better at is managing their time, being aware of that lines, and really just prioritising what's important. And that stuff, yeah, it's kind of hard to teach really just sort of learn it on the job. I think that and I think that's, that's been my biggest learning. And that just again, not just as a designer, but as a business owner as well.

Lefteris Heretakis:

Any last piece of advice you have for our listeners and viewers.

Jamie Ellul:

I think, I think just be open minded. I think the best designers that I work with and have worked with in the past, the ones that they just sort of live and die by design, you know, they're not just into design. They're into other things, too. I think if you're just spending your time looking at design blogs, in design magazines and design books, everyone's going to be doing that. And you're just gonna end up kind of coming up with the same kind of ideas. I think, obviously, you need to have a knowledge and an awareness of what's going on now and what's gone on in the past. But I think if you look in more unusual places, and and soak up more unusual influences, then you're, you're going to become a more rounded designer. For me, ideas are all about just grabbing things from different parts and re mixing them. So if you've got more pots to paint to play with, then, you know, he's just going to come up with much more interesting ideas. So you know, I'm always reading books and listening to podcasts and things that are for the moment, I'm reading a book called out of our minds by Sir Ken Robinson, he's, yeah, cool. He was he sadly passed away last year, he's a, he was an education specialist, and partly reading his book because I'd seen his TED Talk years ago, which is super famous. And then last tail end of last year, we got an A project to create an identity for a festival, that's a celebration of his life called imaginefx, which we did launched in February, March time this year. And that was a really interesting project and took a deep dive into him and his learnings, and I've been reading that book ever since which is just amazing. really recommend it. And, again, that's about creativity across the board and applied to all sorts of things, whether that's, you know, science, or town planning, or whatever it might be, you know, it's all that kind of stuff. And then there's, there's some really good books that I've read by kind of founders say that my people go surfing by even seanad is the Patagonia founder is amazing. Shoe dog by Phil Knight, which is he's the founder of Nike, which is again, amazing. And I listen to lots of podcasts, like walking to work, or, you know, just kind of doing the cleaning or the tidy in the kitchen, wherever it might be. And I'm really into desert island. This is something that's just an amazing resource. And you just learned loads of stuff in there. And it's sort of super entertaining, really into a geeky podcast about sound design called 20,000 hats, which is really good. So yeah, just kind of finding influence, outside of the usual places, I think makes you a more interesting and interested designer. So that would be my absolutely my final word.

Lefteris Heretakis:

Well, it's been a real pleasure, Jamie, thank you so much. And listen to viewers please also visit a csd.org.uk for more interesting information on design and possibility jostle joining, and again, thank you so much. Hope to see you soon now you have another podcast to be listening

Jamie Ellul:

to my list. Nice one. Thanks so much.

Lefteris Heretakis:

Cheers. Take care. Bye.