20 years in design, marketing and PR and finally getting certified
Posted by jorbell on August 31, 2009
This Friday represents the 20th anniversary since I became a graphic designer or to be more precise, a Desktop Publishing Operator. Back in those days it was fairly low-level stuff where most of my work was done using drawing boards and camera ready artwork using spray mount and overlays and only sporadic use of a Mac Plus computer. It is still amazes me how we ever got anything done back then. We even needed the printers to send out someone out to collect the artwork – none of this uploading and downloading and the web? That was just a spot in the corner of the office that none of the cleaners could reach.
Just to give you a bit of background, in the summer of 1989 I was in a menial office job counting travellers’ cheques for Thomas Cook. Basically I had to make sure that the cheques returned from branches around the UK matched in value to that listed on the branch remittance. Not exactly challenging unless you were working in Japanese Yen with multiple noughts but an OK job for a while. It wasn’t what I set out to do but that’s where I’d ended up.
When I was at school I wanted to go to art college and did get an interview but my grades were very average. I decided that this indicated that I wasn’t good enough to pursue art as a career which sadly pushed me into doing clerical work in insurance and then the travellers cheque job I mentioned above.
Ultimately I had put away my art materials for about two years and then one evening I stared doodling. Doodling with a Biro and copied pictures from a pop magazine of Susanna Hoffs from the Bangles and British singer Neneh Cherry. I looked at them and thought that they were actually rather good. Then an odd thing happened – a job in the in-house design studio came available the very next week.
I decided there and then that I would get that job. I spent every waking hour building a quality portfolio. As I said, this was a time before Apple Macs and design software so I was using traditional art medias and I absolutely loved it. My problem was that I wasn’t particularly well qualified for the role but I couldn’t continue doing the clerical work because I felt I was so much more than that.
People have told me that they noticed a real change in me as a person at that time. Someone once said: “If you get this job” and I would interrupt them and say, “No, it’s WHEN I get this job. This job is mine”. To be honest I didn’t even recognise myself and for once in my life I was the person I wanted to be.
To cut a long story short I got the job despite being the least qualified of the 13 candidates, something my new boss didn’t tell me for at least a couple of years. He said it was unwavering confidence and the willingness to learn that carried me through. I truly believed the job was mine and so it came to pass.
This role eventually lead to a path into marketing, PR, event management and now social networking and all through this I have been barely qualified to do any of it. I did a Graphic Design A Level in 1992 and a City & Guilds Journalism Course some 14 years later but what I have learned as come from pure, practical experience. I’m not right out of University with a bucket load of theory to test out, I’ve seen it and done it but this lack of a formal qualification has always bugged me. For this reason I am about to embark on a Professional Certificate in Marketing course, a Chartered Insitute of Marketing accreditation from the London School of Marketing.
After 20 years it’s time I had the bit of paper to show that I know what I’m talking about.