Two months with t&s – Joel Woodford

Roughly 10 months ago, I took the fairly risky decision to hand in my notice and leave my retail job of two years, in the hope that I could begin a career in design – something I had planned on making a reality since graduating from University with a degree in Graphic Communication some years ago.

At this point, I hadn’t gained a lot of industry experience (working in a variety of unrelated jobs and occasional short work placements) and was beginning to get very anxious about my future. It comes as no surprise that I was greeted by relief upon landing a 2-month work placement at t&s creative communications in October 2016. This healthy chunk of experience has proved to be a great confidence booster and has definitely put me on the right path to a promising career.

The experience I have gained and the people I have worked with.

I was extremely nervous for the first few days as I adjusted to the everyday agency processes, such as: saving and locating files stored on the servers, as well as keeping to brand guidelines when designing new documents. Soon though, with the aid of the extremely talented Studio team, I began to feel much more at ease with the workflow. What followed was a genuine sense of pride in the work I was creating.

My approach to design all starts with a pen and paper and strong ideas, so I particularly enjoyed working alongside Dave (Art Director) on concepts for new live creative briefs. I cannot stress how great it was to be given the opportunity to hone my copywriting and idea generation skills, as well as creating ‘scamps’ and initial visuals for client presentations (some of which were chosen as final designs). A special thanks to John (Studio Head) for listening to what I wanted to get out of the placement and for scheduling my time on these projects also.

In order to get as much out of this placement as possible, I also wanted to concentrate on developing skills that I was not so comfortable with. Sometimes, I can be too much of a perfectionist and spend long periods of time creating visuals, so one aspect I wanted to pay more attention to was production efficiency. Working on live briefs with tight deadlines meant that I could concentrate on speeding up my workflow, whilst maintaining a professional design etiquette (ensuring files were created in a way that could easily be amended by the rest of the team). I feel privileged that everyone put that much trust in me to get the jobs done, and although there were a handful of occasions where I needed assistance (I’ve now learned the importance of asking for help sooner rather than later), I coped well with the pressure of the live brief environment and as a result, have some great work to show for my efforts. This invaluable experience has taught me the right balance of perfection and practicality. I can now stop searching for perfection and instead focus on creating the best possible work for the team, and of course the clients.

I am grateful to have also gained a lot of experience and confidence designing for web-based output. I was lucky enough to produce a number of web designs for the excellent Digital team to work their magic on, including e-newsletters, web page assets, GDN banners and social media content. Thanks to Ed and David in Production for reminding me of the importance of grid structure and the spacing of elements, in order to keep layouts consistent and ensuring they translate well online.

How I feel after the placement and my next steps.

All in all, the last two months have been extremely rewarding as I have learned so much about working in a collaborative Studio environment. At the beginning, I’ll admit I felt the pressure to impress a very talented team because I wasn’t sure I would be taken seriously, but it soon became apparent that wasn’t the case. From day one, everyone treated me with the utmost respect and being introduced to a number of in-depth inductions (courtesy of Emma and Claire) ensured I felt like one of the team. This is very important to me, as it allowed me to quickly put any nerves aside and concentrate on getting as much out of my time as possible. To cap it all off, I was even invited to the Christmas party, which was such a kind gesture and an excellent night of celebrations.

I would finally like to thank Ryan (Creative Director) for giving me the opportunity to work at t&s, and would like to wish the brilliant team a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. You have all provided me with an expanded skill-set, important insight, and have reinvigorated me to the point where I feel there really is no excuse for me to not make it in this competitive industry… watch this space.