Jordan Stokes

Graduated – 2008


After graduating in 2008 Jordan did several graduate placements in and around Manchester before landing a Junior Designers role at Music. After four highly successful years with Music he decided to take a year out to travel. He is currently freelancing in Australia.

The Disciples of Design Q&A

As a fairly recent graduate, how did you find the transition from student to designer?
Interesting to say the least. I secured a job straight after Uni at a small agency called Parker Design, which didn’t really work out and I left after three months. I then did a placement at The Chase for four months and then started at Music when that ended. I was lucky in my timing and in the contacts I made, but I worked really hard and had to sacrifice quite a lot to get here.

As they say though it’s all a learning curve and I’ve tried to constantly push myself to get where I wanted to be. It was hard at first leaving the comfort of uni. My placement year prepared me massively but I found that I was developing much more quickly when I was happy. I still like to think I’m a student though sometimes.

What was it like working at Music?
Everyone at Music works really hard, but love what they do, as do most people who are privileged enough to work for a great agency. We were all constantly looking to push ourselves and to make things as good as they could be for Music, but more importantly for our clients. They were not that into doing something for no reason, we liked to make the people who we work for happy and I think that has helped them do some great work.

There is a real mixture of people now at Music, with a range of different expertise and everyone brings something to the table. There aren’t any slackers here. Oh and the obvious… tea, coffee, cake and lots of it.

Is there a Music 'philosophy'?
Eat cake, drink tea, do great work for great people. It’s not about working for the best or most interesting clients, it’s about working for great people. To quote Dave Simpson “There’s an unwavering belief that every piece of work that Music produces must be done for a reason” which I think sums us all up pretty well.

Why did you become a designer?
I never wanted to be anything else, honestly. It started out as wanting to be a cartoonist or an artist when I was younger, but as of high school I was going to be a designer.

Did you do a placement year? If so how was it?
I loved my placement year. I worked in London for nearly nine months at The Partners, Brand Environment, Identica, The Chase, Purple and Next Big Thing. I got to work on live jobs and even got myself a Benchmarks nomination while working on a job at The Partners.

I learned so much from working at the different agencies and something that I tell students we’ve had in at Music, is that it helped me to decide where I didn’t want to work as much as where I did. It also made me better equipped and more confident going into my last year at uni, which ultimately paid off.

Any advice for students about to enter the industry?
All the cliches probably. Work really hard but know how to have a laugh and get on with people and have a bit of banter. Be enthusiastic and push yourself all the time.

It’s not always the shit hot designers who are employable, if you make yourself part of the team and a safe pair of hands most of the time, then shine when you have the chance to, people will notice you and if you’ve made yourself indispensable. Make people tea and be up for anything.

What and or who inspires you?
As much as I can take in from everything around me. I’m inspired by my family and friends, my colleagues and people who are good at something.

How do you come up with ideas? Is it collaborative or do you prefer thinking alone?
It really depends on what it’s for. Sometimes it’s ok to just sit and have a quiet think to yourself, look through some books and jot down some thoughts.

Sometimes you’ve no control over when and where the ideas come from, I’d use the age old ‘you can even get an idea in the shower’ analogy but I can’t remember that ever happening. I much prefer to sit and bounce ideas off other people, nobody thinks the same as you and discussing thoughts can lead you in directions you’d never get to on your own. We have regular design breakfast meetings at Music as an arena to throw some ideas for work around. Some of our best work has come from these meetings.

What’s the best and worst thing about your job?
The worst things are, trying to explain to people what it actually is that you do when they really have no idea what you’re talking about, and having to endure the puzzled faces of relatives when they ask you about work at Christmas. The long hours and the unpredictability of when those long hours are is pretty rough.

The best thing is that I’m doing something I love as a job. Even if I didn’t get paid for it and I had to get another job I would still be designing. I get to work with amazing people on some amazing things, and it’s never the same from day to day, I’m constantly kept on my toes.

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever done in your career?
I haven’t really done anything that wacky to be honest I’ve heard stories of people having to source animals or strange objects but I haven’t really done anything like that.

I ended up in a wheelchair, dressed in a wig and some clothes I stole from the manikins at a black tie Land Securities event we worked on when I was on placement at Next Big Thing. I’ve got years to catch up with Robbie Laughton’s absinthe binges though.


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