As a teenager I was obsessed with photography. I’d walk around with my Canon AE-1 and photograph pretty much anything that wasn’t moving. I’d develop the film in my almost dark enough sink at the back of my garage.
In the late 90s I did a Photography A Level. I’d manipulate my images (in Photoshop 3.0), changing colours and overlaying them with type. Grandiose, existential statements. I was probably already starting to think like a designer. My approach really upset some of the more traditional members of the group, which I kind of revelled in!
My next move was to start a design HND at Suffolk College. My work was terrible but I was lucky enough to be surrounded by really good, supportive people. By the time I started a BA at the University of Portsmouth things started to click ands my confidence grew. I got the opportunity to work in all sorts of medium, I knew at the time that when I left, I wanted to work in print design… I just wasn’t sure where.
On leaving education I found myself at small contract publisher, this was a great proving ground. Then I moved on to Hodder (designing educational books) before moving onto health and lifestyle books at (then independent) Virgin Books. The truth is I REALLY wanted to work on fiction covers, it looked fun and in some ways kind of cool.
Several interviews with art directors ensued. I was told I wouldn’t make it until I had fiction work in my portfolio. While considering this chicken and egg scenario I was lucky enough to interview at Harper Collins with the brilliant AD James Annal (now at Pan Mac), who either saw some potential in me or the begging worked.
Nine years of working on all sorts of projects followed. Working on some of the biggest authors on the planet, seeing my book covers on the tube, on giant posters and projected on buildings. It felt a little bit rock ‘n roll and also at times rather surreal, especially to the young lad who doctored his photography to annoy A level tutors. I was also lucky enough to make some friends for life in the process. It was great time.
All things change. Two years of tough but rewarding freelance followed, then the realisation that I didn’t really like working on my own found me working back in London at SPCK Publishing. While we’re a Christian publisher, the aim hasn’t really changed, our covers need to compete in the wider book market and be as appealing as possible. I’m lucky enough to work with and a really talented team and Art Director as we look to produce work to be proud of.