Graduated – 2000
After graduating Robin worked in London for Salter Baxter and worked on projects for Cable & Wireless, Yell.com, EMI, and the Discovery Channel. He moved on to work for Ranch before returning back north to Bolton. Here he joined Fudge Studios becoming Creative Director helping to build their branding and digital arm. He is now the founding partner and Creative Director of Manchester branding, digital and marketing consultancy 22 Group.
Robin’s work has won many awards including a silver in the prestigious Roses Design Awards and several nominations in both the Fresh Design Awards and Big Chip Digital Awards.
The Disciples of Design Q&A
Tell us about your placement year, how beneficial was it?
I knew nothing about Preston, the course and the placment year when I first arrived at uni. In hindsight I was incredibly lucky that I ended up by chance on one of the best courses in the country. I started in advertising, but although I enjoyed the ideas, I wasn’t keen on the marker pens and changed to design.
I lived on a really rough council estate, drunk a lot of strong white cider and was at Tokyo Joe’s most weeks. I loved it. Before I knew it, I was half way through the second year, and Ron our tutor recommended that myself and John-Paul Sykes had a year's industry experience. I spent time at Interbrand, Newell & Sorrell, Design House, Browns and Metropolis. Great experience, but bloody hard work trying to live in London on work placement wages. When I came back to Preston I met my wife and somehow managed to get a first.
What was it like working at Ranch?
We shared a studio with Mark Farrow who has always been a big inspiration for me. Jonathan Jeffrey who later went on to co found Bibliotheque with Mason Wells and Tim Beard worked there at the time and were all good friends with the guys from North, Sea, Made Thought and Intro. There was a lot of sexy, graphic, very trendy work going on around me, and it was exciting.
What or who inspires you?
Mark Farrow was my biggest inspiration earlier on in my career, so to end up by total chance in the same studio as him was quite mental.
Do you think being a Preston student has benefited you in any way?
I met my best man there, and my wife so I suppose you could argue I benefited.
What are the benefits of starting your own design agency?
It’s an amazing feeling of being in total control. It is still very early days but I am also earning a lot more.
What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever done in your career?
Art directing a naked photoshoot with several beautiful models for cosmetic surgery specialists SurgiCare.
Any advice for students entering the industry during the recession?
Be prepared for the long haul. In the past it has taken me a year to find a job. Make the most of the fact that you have total control of what goes into your portfolio. Unlike most formal qualifications like exams and degrees, we are in quite a privileged position that we can be constantly improving, updating, replacing our ticket to getting a job, our portfolio.
If your portfolio is lacking in a certain area, then set yourself a brief. I personally don’t care if work was an actual paid job or a self-initiated brief for a friend. If it looks good it looks good. Keep up to date with what your favourite design agencies are up to, and use them as inspiration for your own projects. Remember design and in fact life in general, is all about love, joy and a sprinkling of intrigue.
Ark Design and Architecture