Covid-19 / Design Strategy / Remote Working

Why I won’t be going back to the way things were before Covid-19

The past weeks have been challenging for all of us. Not only have I had to work from home instead of travelling to my studio every day, but I’ve had to adapt to meet the needs of my clients, too, many of whom have either reduced hours, reduced workforce, or, like me, are working from a different location to usual.

Add to the mix sharing my new office-space with my family – which means answering questions from my currently home-schooled kids (I’m at home, so of course I’m available 24/7, right?) and fitting in with my family’s routines, which don’t always align with mine, and you’ve got something between chaos and, erm, utter chaos!

But even though it has taken me a while to settle into things, I’ve discovered that there are actually some positives to all this, and, dare I say it, a subtle realisation that the way I worked before wasn’t always the best and most efficient way of working.

My biggest revelation – and I’m certain that many of you will agree – has been Zoom. Ok, so we’ve used Zoom before, but the normal thing to do was to arrange to meet prospective clients in person, even if that meant travelling an hour or more each way for a meeting which may or may not result in a few days’ work.

I’ve realised that in reality, many of those meetings are better to arrange through Zoom. It works more than a phone call, because you are able to see the person (always helps), but you are also able to view each other’s screens, show each other images and examples if graphics, and send over files etc while you’re talking. All of this means that I’m saving loads of time, I don’t have to waste hours driving, and I don’t need to spend too much time looking up and sending over information when I get back to the studio.

Zoom has become the new norm for most of us, even the News on TV. I think it would be a shame to revert back to how things were, as we’re in a fortunate time where technology and virtual meetings are so simplified. And aside from the huge time-saving advantages, think of the environmental impact it could have with so much less time spend on the roads.

But apart from that, working away from the studio has made me realise that I don’t need to be tied in to working in the same place. I don’t know if it’s just coincidental, or down to the type of projects that I’m working on at the moment, but I’ve found that working from home (aside from the obvious distractions), can be just as achievable as working from the studio.

As long as I’ve got the right set-up on my laptop, and a decent internet connection, it’s viable that I could work remotely. I’m not saying that I’m going to become a digital nomad and work from coffee shops and libraries all the time, but it’s certainly feasible that I could spend the odd day working from home.

Working this way has actually shown me that a change of scenery can be beneficial from a creative perspective. So perhaps in the future, when all this is over, that’s another thing I can incorporate into my normal routine. If I could manage to spend even a couple of days a month working away from the studio, whether that’s from home or somewhere else, it might just be the tonic I need to revitalise my brain, help to spark some fresh ideas, and just give me a break from the ‘norm’.

So, yes – the way things are right now might have forced us all to rethink the way we work. But, like me, perhaps that’s given us an opportunity. Maybe we’ve been stuck in a rut, simply because that’s the way we’ve always done things. But it doesn’t have to go back to that, and I think that we’d be foolish not to take on board some of these new habits when the world, eventually, returns to normal.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Has the current situation made you reconsider the way you work?

Collaboration / Design Community / Education / Graphic Design

Reasons for Graphic Designers to go back into education

Graphic Designers – never stop learning

I’ve worked as a graphic designer for a long time, graduating from Wrexham Glyndŵr University in 1993 and working in various studios, bringing me to launch The Severn Agency in 2017. You might say that I’ve made it – that there’s nothing else that I need to achieve from here. But you’d be wrong. Graphic design is a fluid industry, ever changing, ever evolving, and to stay in the game, it’s important that I don’t sit still, because chances are, if I do that, I’ll fall behind, and things will move without me.

Digital Evolution

In the early 90’s, things took a real leap in the field of graphic design, as it was in 1990 when we saw the first version of Photoshop arrive on the scene. This changed the industry a lot, as it meant that designers could experiment with graphics in a way that we’d never seen before. The techniques it allowed were ground-breaking, with overlapping text, image overlays, and faded elements, which previously had been impossible to achieve on-screen.

By the 2000’s, the tech had become much more powerful, and we saw a surge in portable devices. Graphics evolved again with this new technology, and images with movement came into focus. Corporate design and logos began to look much more like they were in motion, using new techniques with angles and shadowing.

Now, trends change year on year, and there are so many styles and techniques open to us in the graphic design industry. But both design and technology continues to change and evolve.

The next step

This year, I have embarked on a Master’s Degree in Graphic Design. Why? Because I want to safeguard my future in this industry, and I want to be the best that I can be.
And that is the reason for my writing this article. Whether you are a graphic designer, are looking to get into the industry, or are pursuing another job entirely, I think there are huge benefits in going back into education in order to get better at what you do and advancing your knowledge.

It can be a great refresher on what you’ve already learned, or it can take you to the next level in the evolution of your career. And of course, it gives you the opportunity to learn about advancements within the industry, whether that’s technological changes, changes in trend, or changes in the industry that you might otherwise have missed out on.

As well as this, you could be connecting with people who are at the same point in their career as you, which gives you the opportunity to learn about what others in the industry are doing.

Why go back into education?

For me, going back into education, to get my Master’s Degree in Graphic Design, is about me keeping up with the industry, and becoming an expert in what I do. But there are many reasons for you to seek further education, whether you’re already working in the industry or not. And you can do it at any age.

It could be that the career path you’ve chosen is no longer a good fit for you, and you’re looking to change. There are plenty of people who decide very late on in life which career path they have a passion for – it’s a myth that everyone who leaves college or even university has a clear idea what they want to do for the rest of their lives. People change, and so you shouldn’t be afraid to make changes in your career, no matter your age.

Perhaps you are in your chosen career, but have come to the end of your potential, either by salary or skill. If this is the case, you might decide to take the next step and go back into education in order to climb the ladder and further your career.

Or it might be that you simply want to learn something new, to accompany the education you’ve already got. There are plenty of jobs in which graphic design feature, and having some kind of formal education can do wonders in enhancing your skills.

Graphic Design never stays still – and whatever your reasons, learning the skills needed to keep yourself current in the industry is always beneficial.