David Thompson

Graduated – 2005


David is Senior Designer at Turner Duckworth London. He’s been part of the team for over two years and prior to this he worked for six years at The Chase Manchester. Over the past eight years David has worked with a variety of clients including Marks & Spencers, Royal Mail, D&AD, Adidas, Miller Coors and Coca-Cola to name but a few and over the past 12 months he’s helped to brand everything from coffee, beer, some D&AD pencils – to a state of the art ship.

David has travelled the globe with his work, from Europe to China and the United States where he’s spent time in Turner Duckworth’s San Francisco office. David’s work has been recognised by many major creative awards including D&AD, One Club, Design Week, The Roses and Fresh Awards.

The Disciples of Design Q&A

How and where did you secure your first job?
I secured my first job at The Chase, I was lucky to be snapped up by the legend that is Ben Casey on the night of my degree show. I was employed along with fellow graduate Rob Clayton to work in the newly formed Preston studio with Creative Director Steve Conchie and Senior Designer Karen Hutghes. I spent the best part of three years in Preston before transferring to the Manchester Studio for the next three.

My time in Preston was a challenge, it was a small start up, and I was thrown in at the deep end, working closely with Steve and Karen (‘Team Preston’) and the range of clients was extremely beneficial to my growth as a junior creative. It also stood me in good stead when I moved to Manchester a much bigger studio.

How has the industry changed over the years in your experience?
It hasn’t changed much, I’m still a young’un (the juniors at Turner Duckworth would disagree). The only thing that has become apparent is the change in clients attitudes. I believe this is down to the huge shift in the financial climate. Client budgets are getting tighter but at the same time they are expecting more, and deadlines are forever getting shorter. As a result, creativity can suffer (and our social lives). Saying this, the standard of work you see in awards is stronger than ever.

Do you think being a Preston student has benefited you in any way?
Most definitely. Preston graduates approach design in a particular way. We are taught to think, design around an idea, to take a problem and solve it. If we do this then the rest comes naturally.

You can see this in effect through the number of great and prominent alumni in the industry today. Being taught this way has certainly made it easier for me to grow in the industry.

Where do you get your ideas from? Do you prefer collaboration or thinking alone?
To be honest, I like to do both. I like to take a brief and digest it, mull on it for a while until I think I’ve understood the problems. Then there’s nothing better then having a chat with someone about it – over a pint is good. It’s amazing how differently we all think and approach a problem.

I believe design should always be a collaborative process. There’s no harm in friendly competition but two heads are more powerful than the one. Inspiration wise, everything! A bit of cliché I know. But it’s true for me, I’m a bit of a wanderer, day dreamer, I like to watch the world go by. I’m one of those guys that looks at the frame rather than the picture (if that makes sense?).

What would you have done differently at University knowing what you know now?
One thing - and the tutors may hate me for saying this... not to work as hard in my first year! I’m a perfectionist and will spend as much time as is needed to get something right, and then it still won’t be right.

I can’t help think I pondered and worried over my first year projects more than I needed too, rather than going out and enjoying myself more. I don’t mean to just go to the union and get pissed (did that enough already), I mean to see and experience more, meet more people other than art students and my flatmates. The second and third years are the crucial ones, I’d say try and enjoy the first that little bit more.

What’s the best thing about your job?
The next day never being the same as the last. Our industry is so fast paced that you never know what’s around the corner.

What would you say has been the key to your success so far?
Grafting (with a little talent and luck). I’ve put in some hours over the last eight years and done a few all nighters. Talent will get you so far in this industry but if you’re not willing to work hard and put in the time then you might as well not bother. Sounds harsh, but true.

As we all know, nothing in design is easy, whether it’s clients that just don't agree with a concept, or design directors who won’t support your thinking, you sometimes have to work that bit harder to prove yourself.

What is the most unusual thing you have done in your career?
Working late nights on a job, we managed to build a 7ft skyscraper out of Red Bull cans in just three weeks! It was built with over 700 cans! (Do the math.) As you can imagine I was extremely ill after we finished the job! A man cannot live on just energy drinks, KFC and no sleep. Oh and I dressed up as Pat Butcher (enough said about that).

What do you look for in graduates and their portfolios?
Easy. Creativity and personality. Portfolios should be well presented and copywritten – we do work in communication after all.

Any advice for students entering the industry?
Be enthusiastic, be confident (not too much) and don’t be scared to say you don’t know how or what you’re doing. You’re there to learn and we designers are generally nice people who love to help. Most of all, just enjoy yourself and smile!


Open Day Poster - Blackpool & The Fylde College School of Arts

Branding & Packaging - Miller Lite

Brochure - Johnsons Tiles