Dear young designer

Ever wondered how a Deputy Creative Director gets there? Mike Griffiths took a moment to tell us how he got started in as a designer, and what he does now to give others a step up the ladder to success.

Dear young designer,

Many years ago, more than I’d like to admit, I was a fresh faced Preston Graphics (UCLAN) graduate, ready to take the design world head on – or should I say stand there like a deer in the headlights? And like all the students who graduated back in the two thousand and somethings (yes, writing it out makes it not seem that long ago) we had the honour of being taught by the new Preston Graphics fresh faced young(ish) tutor Andrew Bainbridge – or &y as he’s known.

After selling his soul on the Manchester design scene for most of the 90’s, he was looking for his way to give a little back. &y was a treasure trove of old creative materials, a toolbox of ideas, a hands on creative doer. If you worked in the creative industry and did’t know him you probably weren’t worth knowing. You couldn’t ask for a better tutor or a more inspiring creative to look up to. 

But after graduating we lost touch for several years as I tried to make my own way in the Manchester design scene. Then out of the blue via the little black book that is LinkedIn, there he was in the ‘people you may know’. Even after all that time he was the same old &y. After good old chin wag, a few beers here and there and popping down to a few UCLAN Degree Shows, &y asked if I’d be able to help him out with a few of his 2nd year potential placement students. 

At the time I had no placements to offer, but this was my opportunity to try and put a little back and maybe tell those young designers all those things I wish someone had told me back in the day. To take a look at their portfolios and give them an open an honest opinion in a mock interview, impart my words of wisdom on them, tell them it’s not all about that shiny finished product. That the scribbles, ideas and thoughts are just as important. I could give them the benefit of my years of bullshitting… come on, everyone in the room at some point is bullshitting… and then send them on their way feeling a little more prepared, equipped and ready to take on their placement year interviews. 

So for a good few years now every June, I eagerly await the email and call from &y with the list of ambitious new students and this year was no exception. I had the pleasure of seeing 4 very different aspiring creatives. 

Olivia Kelly – LinkedIn

Harrison Cornelious – LinkedIn

Nilesh Kawale – Behance, Instagram

Matt Duncan – Instagram

So if you have space in your studio or need an extra creative hand, take a look for yourself and hit up one of the four students and see if &y and I have done our jobs properly. Or if you’re reading this after August 2022 give &y a shout and see who he’s got that fits with you and get yourself on his need to know list. 

So what one thing would I have loved to know? It’s okay not to have an answer, it’s okay not to know everything. Okay that’s two things. But also to understand that most people are in their 30s before they find that dream job, in their 40s before they become that Creative Director.

Mike Griffiths 
Once a fresh faced graduate, now Deputy Creative Director

Seventy7

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