Jules Akel

Graduated – 1986



Jules now runs his independent design studio from the old church of Glenlochsie, Dalwhinnie, the highest village in the Highlands of Scotland. Servicing clients in London, Marlborough, Cambridge, Taunton, Edinburgh and Inverness amongst others. Although he has kindly agreed to answer our Words of Wisdom Q&A here, he would much prefer to show his work properly in front of the fire over some tea and toast and a wee dram.

The Disciples of Design Q&A

How and where did you secure your first job?
At the beginning of the summer after I left the Avenham Foundation Course, my father said that I have to go out and get a job. So I got a copy of the Creative Handbook and started at A. I got a job at a company called Wings. I did the same at the beginning of the next summer. I got a job at Basten Brewer and Andrews in Covent Garden. They employed me for every summer until I graduated. After that I got my first job with one of the companies that had given me a place during the Sandwich – Bass Riley in Chelsea.

Do you think being a Preston student has benefited you in any way?
It certainly helped me get my summer jobs and my first job.

How has the industry changed over the years in your experience?
It isn’t an industry. Industries have huge steaming heavy machinery and are populated by men in overalls. We are a profession. Anyway, I don’t think it has really. It is still about telling your client’s story to their different audiences. It is still about seducing people to do things they might not have thought about doing. It is still about enhancing a client’s reputation. It is still about helping the client to organise their marketing tactics.

Where do you get your ideas from? Do you prefer collaboration or thinking alone?
I get all my ideas from meeting the client in their business. By talking, listening, looking and understanding, it is not hard to come away with a clear idea of what needs to be achieved.

What would you have done differently at University knowing what you know now?
Saying, ‘nothing’, sounds a bit arrogant. But I look back with tremendous joy at the five years I spent on the Foundation Course and on the BA (Hons) course. All I can remember is the excitement of designing wonderful things with talented tutors.

What’s the best thing about your job?
It is what I would do even if I didn’t have to earn any money. I hope I never have to retire. I love the business of communicating through my art.

What would you say has been the key to your success so far?
I love my clients and what they do. I always try to be generous to them with ideas. I send them bottles of Dalwhinnie whisky and boxes of chocolates. I hope that I am known as a thoughtful designer, who takes pleasure in the entire process. That would include research, copywriting, photography, packaging, paper, illustration, typography, print, web, film, whatever is needed to complete the job.

What is the most unusual thing you have done in your career?
When I graduated I asked for a four-day a week job. Since then, I have only ever worked three or four days a week. You don’t meet many designers who do that (Matthew 6:33, 34).

Any advice for students entering the industry?
Continue to learn.


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