Graduated – 1992
After leaving Preston Steve founded Purple along with fellow ex-Preston graphic design graduates, Andrew Harding and Gary Westlake with a ‘Prince’s Youth Trust grant, a black and white computer and a passion for creativity’. Two decades later, they are working across a wide range of marketing, digital and design disciplines, creating everything from global websites, brand identities, internal communications and marketing campaigns for clients around the world. They now have colour computers.
The Disciples of Design Q&A
How and where did you secure your first job?
Design related – we started Purple in 1993 straight from leaving Preston so technically have never secured a job. Un-design related – post boy at my Mum’s firm, helped me pay for snakebite and black while I learnt how to think.
How did Purple get started?
We did a placement together and liked what we produced so carried on working as a team as much as we could during our final year at Preston. Being cocky students that knew everything, by the time we left we thought we’d start our own design company. Six months later we got our first project – 1993 Led Zepplin Calendar (don’t ask).
Do you think being a Preston student has benefited you in any way?
Helped me spot a good idea when I saw one. Without it I wouldn’t have met Gary and Andy, my two business partners and started Purple. Not so sure it benefited my liver though.
How has the industry changed over the years in your experience?
It’s faster – technology has revolutionised design but not always in good ways. It’s easier to visualise your ideas and produce fantastic work but also easier for people without the right training to visualise their ideas. There seems to be more crap about.
Where do you get your ideas from? Do you prefer collaboration or thinking alone?
Both. In the bath, pub, cycling to work, brainstorm. If I’m stuck, talking a project through with my wife often helps.
What would you have done differently at University knowing what you know now?
I would probably do things exactly the same – enjoy every project, experiment and have as much fun as possible.
What would you say has been the key to your success so far?
A passion for creativity and a sense of humour – looking back, without both we wouldn’t have got off the ground. Oh and the pub.
What is the most unusual thing you have done in your career?
Punched Andy my business partner for refusing to stop talking German.
What do you look for in graduates and their portfolios?
A passion for creativity, good ideas and design that I haven’t seen before and most important – desire.
Any advice for students entering the industry?
Don’t give up, keep honing your portfolio and coming up with new ideas. We nearly gave up at the start but managed to keep going in some really tough times. We got there in the end – friends also help.