So how naughty have I been?! It’s been over a year since I’ve written a blog. Bad Alex, very bad.
But, oh and here comes the excuse, we all do it! We need to prioritise and in this case, my precious blog took a back seat. Clients came first, which I think is fair enough.
However, and here comes the ‘head hanging in shame’ bit, another typical business trait occurred too – I got out of the ‘good practice habit’. The safety net we put around or under us only works if we keep checking it for damage, and repairing where necessary. And what is a technique that helps us keep it in tip top condition? Yes, good practice habits. We’ll always been thrown challenges but as well as being adaptable to these challenges, upholding good practice habits helps too – they are after all our USPs; the things that make us stand out from the crowd. And keeping my blog up-to-date was something I was proud of. So, chastising over, time to get back on it. Repair, move on and up!
“Well, what have you been up to this past year Alex?” I hear you think. Yes, mind reading is another USP (insert winking face here!).
“Charity work”. I respond with a wee halo hanging above lifted head.
This last year I’ve been working for an incredible charity; Lincs and Notts Air Ambulance. Like all 30+ Air Ambulances in the UK, the entire service is funded by the general public, with the NHS seconding amazing paramedics to the service. These men and women are literally life-savers on a day to day basis. Lincs & Notts is a particularly busy region; the team fly on average 3 life-saving missions a day, but that can increase to anywhere up to 11! Mind blowing stuff.
I helped the charity get up to speed with their marketing and PR. It was a truly inspiring year. What I’ve learned has been invaluable; the challenges and opportunities for charities such as this are immense. It was an honour to work with them. The testimonial from the Deputy CEO, Sally Crawford, which I’ll soon put on this site, means so much to me.
Right, enough halo polishing, time to talk 2016. New clients are on their way and a project I’ve been working on for over 2 years may finally be hitting the shelves soon. And here it comes – the obligatory ‘watch this space!’.
Speak soon …
A few weeks ago I decided to try out a new eating plan; no not diet, eating plan. The basis of which is eating according to your blood type. So I’m as common as you get, O positive, which means wheat and dairy aren’t my tummy’s friends whereas meat is a true buddy. This is hard for me; I’m a vegetarian.
Determined not to be put off by some of the plan’s not so Alex friendly options, I delved deep to find some positives within this ancient diet. ‘Ancient’ as supposedly your blood type’s preferred food is based on how your ancestors lived.
Upon delving deep I found some true favourites; oh yes baby! Spinach, broccoli, spelt, rye, tomatoes, soya milk, rice, rice and more rice.
Now why on earth am I wittering on about food? Well if any of you know me, you will be aware that food is one of my favourite subjects, however this isn’t the reason. It’s all to do with a design project I’ve been working on.
This project has really pushed my design skills and self belief. The client wanted the extraordinary; an extremely complex vector design with a limited budget. Could I do this? Would I start to wane mid-design? Well, nearly! Like the food plan, sometimes a brief can seem to be just filled with obstacles whilst the positives, the fun, exciting, mind blowing end product can get lost amongst a sea of hurdles and “this is crazy!”s.
Now my advice and learning in such cases is simple:
* Stick to the brief
* Don’t be a child in a sweet shop, nail your design inspiration and thoughts with your client early
* Don’t let the client be a child in a sweet shop and confirm their expectations early
* Tell any silly “but you’re a vegetarian, you can’t do this” thoughts to take a short walk off a long peer
* Stick to the brief
The design I’ve created for the client is most certainly my most challenging, most complex and most rewarding. I can’t say that the 25 hours staring at a computer screen didn’t leave me slightly bozeyed but boy was I elated when the client used the word “incredible!”.
During the 25 hours I was challenged by design and technical complications but I kept searching for the positives; that spinach and broccoli: “This is so on brief”, “the client will love this”, “I couldn’t do this last week” and “this is awesome fun, who needs non-blurry eyes?!”.
And what’s next? The product will be launched internationally this year, I will be sure to send it to as many contacts and friends as possible to show off and remind them of what I do exactly and I will continue to have a happier, less rumbly tummy.
In this fabulous moment of indulgent coronation-celebration reminiscing, I’ve understandably been pondering the past. Learning from our past and taking inspiration from it is great for personal, work and creative life. Emotional, financial and design decisions all take influence from past experiences of our own and those of others. Semantics aside, whether ‘inspired by’, ‘influenced by’, ‘imitated’ or simply ‘copied’, ideas and thought processes are recreated by all of us everyday. It could be a moral value that comes from parental or social influence, it could be a business decision found in a millionaire’s autobiography or it could be a label design bursting with homage to Great British regalia (so beyond ‘on trend’ right now …)
On the opposing side, when we’re looking to the future, can we have original thought or are we always influenced, no matter how hard we try not to be, by our past? Well I lean toward a Roland Barthes (ish) theory; interpreted into my own brain-dump: There is no such thing as an original idea, but when collated these unoriginal ideas can become brand spanking new combinations, and therefore, in a manner, become original.
That’s why when I find a few moments away from work, I like to truly ‘experience’ that moment and look around at whatever is there. This may sound trite but what I mean is, even when you’re sitting on a smelly, soggy train or stuck watching a film with too many advert breaks, read that newspaper (all the way through – even the boring sport bits) and watch the adverts (all the way through – even the boring mis-sold PPI bits), because every day I am surprised and influenced (in varying degrees) by at least one idea; be it a view point, a new fact or a new look & feel. So when I feel I’m lounging around, feeling lazy I can naturally just tell myself that I am educating and inspiring myself, and that’s the story I’m sticking to!