Question: “I want to move to London and try my luck in the industry over there but I’m not sure how my folio will hold up in an overseas market. Should I be measuring myself against the type of work coming out of London studios or is good design universal?” – Katie, 27
Answer: While we both know this question is laced with complex emotions and difficult terrains, the answer to every question is found in Peter Saville’s album cover for Joy Division’s first release Unknown Pleasures. Saville founded Factory Records and basically made British design shit hot again. Along with Neville Brody, his work with the music industry and identities for the cultural sector essentially defined UK design for an era. The lesson here is that people worked with him because they liked his work. Suggesting, of course, that people are in demand for their style, artistry and philosophical approach to the world – not the place they were born.
You don’t need to redefine British design, Katie. You don’t need to lead a new design movement, either. You just need to be a good designer. I’m not saying individual style doesn’t exist or isn’t a key part of our work: Melbourne studios have a look, which differs to the look of other Melbourne studios, which differs again from studios in London. But measuring style is largely a waste of time. No one wants a chameleon in their studio. They’re hiring you because you’re interesting. You have an interest in Burt Bacharach and playing chess on a Saturday. You. So don’t get too caught up in them.
What you should be really measuring the work up against is your ability to produce a good idea. Did this idea have the right tone? Did it sing? Did it have a smile in the mind, and did it employ a good user journey from start to finish? We’re not just stylists, Katie. Our record sleeve days are behind us. Put some faith in your curiosity and an interest in the project you’re taking on, and that will put you in good stead anywhere in the world.
Dizzee Askall will be delivering a weekly lowdown on your design-related dilemmas. If you’re in need of advice or answers, send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @sdhelvetica with the hashtag #dizzeeaskall