How did you get into graphic design?
I’ve always had a strong penchant for design and being creative in one form or another. From a young age I was always drawing, painting, meticulously copying illustrations, posters and anything that took my fancy and inspired me (think my mum and dad were even worried I might get into counterfeiting at one point!), through to creating my own typographic briefs and mini design projects in and out of school and through to early college life.
After finishing A-levels, I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do, I’d already been accepted onto a Foundation Course in Bradford, and I knew it was going to be design related, but I was torn between design disciplines, so the year in Bradford was a perfect opportunity to explore a range of disciplines. By the time I was required to make a final decision about what to do next, it was a shortlist of: Interior Design/Architecture; Fashion and Graphic Design and after discussing long and hard with my older brother, we decided that Graphic Design would be the discipline that ticked all the boxes. So the decision was made, and off to Newcastle I went… and this was the start of my cough, cough 25-year plus career in Graphic Design and visual communication. During this time I’ve produced a wide and varied range of effective online and offline solutions, with a peppering of award winners to boot.
What qualities do you think a good graphic designer needs to have?
Not necessarily in priority order:
Intellect; a great idea; a simple idea; lots of ideas; an open mind; spacial awareness; a feel and appreciation of typography; ability to challenge; being able to share your ideas; don’t be too precious, learn to accept and take criticism (some of my most rewarding and challenging projects have involved some form of criticism); have high standards and expectations; be funny; have fun; be moody (well we can’t be fun all the time); love all things design (it is everywhere and we interact with it day in day out in all aspects of our lives); have an appreciation of good design; have the appropriate technical ability; have more fun and love what you do; also be business savvy, or you will go bust!
What do you most enjoy about working at Forepoint?
Considering I’ve been at Forepoint for over 22 years and worked my way up from Designer to Director, there must be something about the business. Every day is different and although we all have core roles, everyone’s actual role and experiences can be very different. I’m very proud of the team at Forepoint, we’ve had some great characters over the years, some are still here and some have gone on to build successful careers elsewhere, we have some extremely talented and also very dependable individuals, which is crucial when working collaboratively with some great clients, in order to continue to produce quality work that we are exceptionally proud of. It’s not always a bed of roses, I’ve experienced times of major stress and frustration in challenging environments and whilst working on challenging projects, but these instances have often provided me with the greatest reward and also recognition. I’ve had the opportunity to discover behind the scenes of some highly sensitive and intriguing business across the UK. So in short: the people (colleagues and clients), the opportunities, the potential and the work.
What projects are you currently working on?
Due to my current role, my workload is very varied. I can be working on anything from recruitment, general business development, day-to-day financial operations, through to comms campaigns, new brand development, website strategy, creative concepts and design and art direction.
Due to the sensitivity of some of our client work, I’m not at liberty to share the exact projects that I’m currently working on but they are for some extremely well known national brands/businesses.
I’m also actively involved with the current planning and concept design of our new office space which we are due to move into next year.
Who has been most influential in your career, who inspired you to become a graphic designer?
As mentioned earlier, my brother Dr Simon Gill was very influential in my early career choice. Prior to this, so were my art and design teachers at South Craven School (proud comprehensive school upbringing). Other notable influences came from the likes of: Cassandre; Shaun Stüssy; Ian ‘Swifty’ Swift; Neville Brody; David Carson. Album artwork and the music industry as a whole has been a major influence on wanting to pursue a career in graphic design and visual communication. The aforementioned Stüssy, Neville Brody, David Carson and Swifty are still well respected graphic designers in their own right today. Swifty’s early design work, included logo design and record sleeve design, for some of my favourite artists of the late 80s and early 90s on the Talkin’ Loud label, which were: Incognito, Young Disciples and possible my all-time favourite (certainly at the time) Galliano.
What do you do when you’re not working?
Seriously though, I’m quite fortunate that I have a career doing what I love, so work doesn’t feel like work, I don’t always get to do as much design work as I’d like, but I’m directly involved with design and art direction on a daily basis, so seeing my influence on projects as we work collaboratively as a team gives me a tremendous buzz. My role and work can be difficult at times, as the line between the work/life balance does get blurred, due to the pressures of deadlines and working in the creative services industry (it’s difficult to explain to those not in the industry, but it’s just expected and it’s what we’ve always done and know). This does however mean the need to be able to prioritise quality time with loved ones. So I try and cram in as much as possible, namely: quality time with my partner and our children, along with a (albeit now greatly reduced) time for socialising, partying, chilling and music.
Tell us about a memorable moment about working here or a project you’re really proud of?
There have been so many memorable moments over the years, far too many to recount and mention in total – so here goes with two, one truly work related, being shortlisted for two national CIPR awards for BAE Systems in the same year, and the other as a Forepoint team, when we completed the 100km nonstop Trail Trekker challenge, which demonstrates the commitment, hard work, graft and tenacity of the Forepoint team involved.
Tell us a fascinating fact about yourself?
I used to DJ on a pirate radio station in Bradford (Paradise City Radio) in the late 80s/early 90s and have been involved in club nights around Preston and surrounding area. My alter egos are: Jammin’, Louie Costa and Steve Jalapeno, as a rare-groove, funk, disco and soulful/deep house DJ.
I’m also a proud Yorkshire man, living in Lancashire (erm, scratch head!)
What’s your favourite TV show?
I don’t watch a lot of live terrestrial TV, due to workloads and other commitments so most of the time it’s via catch-up. If I do happen to catch live TV and Dragon’s Den is on, I love that along with 8 out of 10 Cat’s Does Countdown. Most of the time I’m on either Now TV or Netflix watching US Box Sets, I find it impossible to list my top five or even top ten, but these are the shows that I’ve enjoyed watching:
- The Wire
- Game of Thrones
- Breaking Bad
- Sons of Anarchy
- The Walking Dead
- Peaky Blinders
And the one that I still need to make time for is Mad Men.
You may be thinking that’s a lot of hours of TV for someone that doesn’t have much time! Well that’s because I’ve survived on an average of 5-6 hours sleep per night for the last ten years.
If you were a brand what would your tagline be?
Understand. Challenge. Solve
Do you have a favourite quote?
I unashamedly do talk b@#!*&%$ sometimes, but I do have a number of regular sayings, namely:
“If you don’t ask, you don’t get”
“Good design looks effortless”
“Less is more”
“If in doubt, leave it out”
“Good design doesn’t date, bad design does” that one can be attributed to Paul Rand, the others can be attributed to various other influencers over the years.