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Interview

“A Creative Designer needs to balance artistic skill with a strategic approach”

3 minute read

Holly has worked in the creative industries for over ten years since studying Graphic Arts at university. Keen to jump straight into the workplace, she undertook summer internships at graphic design firms while studying and got a taste of the reality of the job.

“In some ways I learnt more about the work there than at university,” she says. Holly started her professional career in junior designer roles and has worked her way up.

She became Creative Manager at Nominet two years ago and, as lead of the creative team, is responsible for the hiring of junior designers and ensuring the business’ creative briefs are met.

“When I’m hiring a Creative Designer, I start by checking their application and CV to see if they’ve got the specific software skillset I might need – say Adobe InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop as a minimum – but also to see if there’s any creative flair,” she explains.

“Have they designed their own portfolio or done something imaginative with their application? I want someone who can be their own brand, someone who enjoys making things jump off the page – even something as potentially mundane as a job application.” 

When it comes to the interview stage, Holly seeks candidates with passion, someone able to talk freely about their previous work and demonstrate a genuine interest in creative projects beyond the day job.

“I want to hear about art galleries they’ve been to, other styles and brands they admire or which journals and magazines they enjoy reading and learning from,” she says.

“Or perhaps they designed a great logo for a friend’s online business, or a mood board for their cousin’s re-decorating project? It isn’t just a nine-to-five job – you’re either creative to your core, or you’re not.”

That said, Holly isn’t looking for the ‘finished product’ and would recognise even minor work experience on a CV, such as a candidate having responded to briefs via a site like Hive or done voluntary work for a local SME.

Importantly, a good Creative Designer is someone who’s willing to learn and remain inquisitive, whatever their level of experience:

“Even though I’ve been doing this for a decade now, I’m always learning something new – plus software, styles and trends are always changing and we have to keep up! I’d like to see a candidate with that open-minded attitude, a keenness to embrace the learning opportunities available in a role like this.”

While creativity is obviously key when working as a Creative Designer, there are many other skills you need to have too; these can vary depending on the environment in which you are employed, explains Holly.

For example, working in an agency – on briefs for lots of different clients – requires a high level of organisation skills, an ability to turn briefs around quickly and communicate clearly, being persuasive when pitching your ideas.

If working in-house for a company, the client is usually a colleague and so teamwork becomes more crucial. There, the role becomes more about building relationships and working together towards a final product.

You’re helping your colleagues find the best way to communicate their message while remaining on-brand for the company – adhering to colour palette guidelines, for example, or preferred fonts.“This is a creative role, but you also need to have an analytical and strategic approach to work,” Holly adds.

“You need to understand technical requirements and sizes, such as how to make something a third bigger, or a quarter smaller. You need to recognise the rules and be able to stick to formats and restrictions. It also helps to have an interest in marketing so you can understand what the purpose is of the work you create. It’s not just about making something aesthetically beautiful – it has to be right for the audience, the brand and the business, delivering the right message in the right way to the right person.”

For Holly, her job “doesn’t really feel like work – it’s a passion! There is so much variety and it’s always pretty cool to see your work ‘live’, say on the back of a bus or in a magazine ad. As a career, being a Creative Designer is really rewarding, but competitive. You have to work hard and remain focused, but if creativity and communication are in your DNA, they’ll be no stopping you.”  

Feeling inspired? Find out more about starting a career in Creative Design by listening to our THIS IS HOW podcast, where we chat to Daniel Obichukwu, Creative Designer at TikTok.