Graduated – 1991
Claire started her career working for Bowes Darby before heading off to sunnier climes and the hope of better opportunities in Singapore, Sydney and Hong Kong.Working for Saatchi & Saatchi, for local and global brands on projects that spanned both size and complexity, from the Bank of China IPO launch to graduate recruitment for Singapore Navy.
Now she can be found cycling her bike along the canals of Amsterdam to Design Bridge where she is Creative Director, still working for some very exotic international clients from Finnish Rail to Saudi Arabian milk brands and anything and everything in between.
The Disciples of Design Q&A
How and where did you secure your first job?
After being on placement with Bowes Darby in my third year they offered me a position after graduating.
Do you think being a Preston student has benefited you in any way?
It’s made me a thinker – well I was always a thinker, it taught me how to put those thoughts into action and look beyond the obvious. And the value of restraint, the stronger the idea the simpler the execution. Finish is important but as we were often
told by a cantankerous individual at Preston – “ya can’t polish shit”.
How has the industry changed over the years in your experience?
The immediacy with which something can be visualized and brought to life has led to a lot of style over substance. Portfolios’ full of beautifully rendered and technically executed work – but soulless.
This immediacy means we don’t always take the time to consider and craft, the ‘torture’ that design needs to take it from average to outstanding takes time, consideration and patience. Technology is always subservient to talent, we mustn’t
think that the digital world can upload talent into our brains – it can’t.
Where do you get your ideas from? Do you prefer collaboration or thinking alone?
On my own – when I can find the time, usually late at night or cycling to work, thinking and mulling over, allowing time for things to come to life. But I love to discuss, debate talk around things. A good old chat often delivers surprising results, but the idea has to be there to discuss in the first place. Getting a load of people in a room to ‘brainstorm’ is my idea of hell.
What would you have done differently at University knowing what you know now?
Relaxed a bit more, not worried so much about the grades and been braver. Preston was a fantastic time, I made some of the most wonderful friends who have informed my life and helped shape the person I’ve become, if I could do it all again I’d make sure they all came back to do it with me.
What’s the best thing about your job?
The talented people I work with and the diversity and eclectic nature of our clients. There are 12 different nationalities in the studio that’s a phenomenal amount of different life experience, cultural influences and insight to draw upon. My role is to be the ‘what if’, to work with their ideas and help to take them that step further or to direct the thinking in the right area.
What are the ‘little differences’ to working in Amsterdam?
Cycling to work is a pleasure not a matter of life and death. On the whole work life balance is better, the Dutch know when to call it a day.
What is the most unusual thing you have done in your career?
Worn an Abaya in Riad to do a presentation.
What do you look for in graduates and their portfolios?
Big ideas, something that inspires me and a confidence and belief in the work they are showing.
Any advice for students entering the industry during the recession?
When we graduated 20 years ago we were in a similar situation, and looking back I think that’s one of the reasons I decided to head to Singapore. I was in a shared flat, on a very low salary working ridiculously long days and it suddenly occurred to me that my opportunities were not limited to the UK.
That’s the fantastic thing about what we do – we can do it anywhere in the world. The studio in Amsterdam is testament to that, so my advice would be not to limit your horizons.
First Harvest Tomato Ketchup - Heinz
Packaging - Oggu