After my recent photoshoot with the super talented Marion Botella down on North Shields vibrant Fish Quay (which is where this fab shot was taken) I got reminiscing about all the places I’ve lived and worked, all the experiences I’ve had and people I’ve met throughout my career which have led me to where I am today. I’ve lived in North Shields for the last 16 years although I grew up in Gateshead, but my design career has literally taken me all over the country.
First stop Peterborough
My first job straight out of college was designing packaging in-house for Potter and Moore, a health and beauty manufacturer based in Peterborough. I'd applied for jobs all over the country and was chuffed to bits when I finally got an interview, even though I had no idea where Peterborough even was!
I really enjoyed my time there, it was such a creative and inspiring environment to work in. I was part of a team of passionate product and graphic designers, so full of ideas and creativity. Part of my job was to go on shopping trips to London, checking out aspirational designers in places like Camden and the Kings Road, I couldn't believe I got paid to shop!
I learnt so much there, about applying my creativity to commercial products. Our clients were all big high street retails of the time, like Next, Woolworths, BHS, Warehouse and Laura Ashley. It was my first taste of seeing my design work in the real world and the buzz was amazing!
Next stop Scottish Borders
My next move was up to Kelso in the beautiful Scottish Borders to work for Morton Ward, a design consultancy specialising in branding and literature. I learnt a lot about designing for print and publications, and it was great being part of a larger team of graphic designers, all sharing our different design experience and knowledge.
This is where my skill base of different design programs really grew as they were very keen to invest in staff development and sent us up to Edinburgh for training courses in different design programmes. I also gained a ton of practical knowledge about artworking and setting my creative designs up for print, which I still fall back on to this day.
Back home to the North East
Feeling a bit homesick at this point I made the move back to the North East to work in-house for Tommee Tippee, designing packaging, point of sale and creating character illustrations for their range of baby products. It was here that my love of illustration and colour really developed. I ended up working at Tommee Tippee for almost 10 years and although the work did get a bit repetitive over time, I stayed for the people. It was brilliant being part of such a large passionate team, and my confidence in my illustration skills also really grew there.
My next move wasn’t so far afield as by this point in my home life I’d settled down, gotten married, bought my first home in North Shields and wanted to start a family. I began working for full service marketing agency, Narrative based in Sunderland. Working within a team of people who all came from different marketing disciplines was a great experience, I was able to gain a much broader knowledge of all areas of marketing and branding. I also learnt a lot about using social media and online marketing campaigns as a great promotional tool.
Time to go it alone
After 5 years at Narrative it was time for my daughter to start school and I wanted greater flexibility to fit work around school drop offs and holidays. That was when the idea of freelancing came to me, it was always something I'd wanted to give a go but the reality was pretty terrifying. Two years later and it's been the best thing I've done, it hasn't been a bed of roses, especially with the pandemic thrown in, but I love working with my clients and using my design skills to help their businesses.
There’s lots of things I’ve had to learn about running a business as I’ve been going along but I can definitely say all the years and varied experience I’ve gained throughout my career gave me a really good starting point.