Two Times Elliott Managing Director Review
Hi James, can you tell me how your career has developed so far, I hear that marketing is notoriously difficult to get into?
When I left university I applied for about 10 jobs at large agencies, luckily I got an interview for the first one and started three days after. The agency I worked for were responsible for the Pigsback promotion where the stress ball pigs are handed out and my role within the agency was to oversee brand initiatives. Unfortunately, I was made redundant after a year and a half and in marketing this is not hugely uncommon as, during hard economic times, one of the first thing that companies cut back on is advertising.
It was at this point that I decided to go freelance in order to build my portfolio. The work I won as a freelance designer wasn’t the most inspiring creatively but allowed me to develop as a designer and have a better sense of what it would take to set up my own design agency. During this time I learned that your portfolio is the single most important thing to show to clients and agencies, it is also important to go for quality as opposed to quantity.
In February 2009 I set up my own agency 2*Elliot in order to offer a niche service where we have a number of freelance designers that work with us and then once a client chooses the designer they find best suited to them they work with that designer, as opposed to having one look, which is what a lot of other agencies do.
We also take on a lot of graduates on a freelance basis as I want to assist designers in building up their portfolios.
What is a typical day like for your designers?
The designers are freelance so they will get called in when we have a specific project that matches their style. I will have spoken to the client previously and it is likely they will have filled out their questionnaire to give us guidance on what they would like.
For example…if we were working on a logo project for a new client, the designer would spend an hour being briefed on the client with me. The designer will then come back to me with a research document, which we will present to the client for them to give feedback on. Finally the designer will be sent away to brainstorm and develop which can take a few hours or a couple of days…it’s a creative process so its not an exact science.
What are the things that interest you about your job?
I love the freedom of working in a design company as you spend a large part of your day being creative, I also really like working with a group of freelance designers as all the designers I work with have worked at top agencies and al of them have a unique perspective on design, which really helps you grow as a designer.
What sort of hours were you working when you were in a large agency?
Large agencies work long hours, I was in the office for 8.30am and would usually leave around 6.30 so a 50 hour week. However, if there was a deadline to work to, you would often find yourself staying later than that to complete the work.
What skills do you need to do your job?
You need to be able to listen to people and understand what they want. Working as a designer you need good people skills too as you need to be able to win a clients trust that you will deliver what you have promised. You also need to be fairly competent with at the very least Adobe and Photoshop on the design side. If you are on the programming side you will need good coding skills in a variety of languages to give yourself flexibility.
How important is your degree?
I don’t think that your degree discipline or class is hugely important, I would always choose to work with a designer who had a strong portfolio over a degree.
What/where did you study at undergrad?
I studied at Nottingham Trent – personally I felt that it was a great university for design as you were given the opportunity to express yourself.
If you were leaving university tomorrow and wanted to get into design how would you do it?
Design is one of those businesses where you have to start at the bottom, unfortunately there is no shortcut… If I were leaving university I would apply for every internship or graduate position available. If that didn’t work, I would approach a number of companies who currently outsource their design and try and encourage them to allow you to design for them, the idea being that you eventually bring the design in-house and are left to run the design team!
If you do manage to secure an internship, don’t get stuck doing the photocopying as you will never be able to exhibit your talent in this way. Try and get involved s much as possible in as many projects as possible, or you could knock on the creative directors office as I did and sit with him for the duration of the internship, it worked for me!
Finally what's your top tip for students?
I see far too many CV’s that look like people are applying for accountancy firms! If you are applying for a position at a design company your CV should be used to show off your ability as a designer and jump off the page.
Want to know more? Their Grad Diary profile is packed with info on Two Times Elliott Graduate Jobs.
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