We spoke on 13th October 2020
Hey Jaheed, I’m a huge fan of your work and I have been following you for a long time. You studied Graphic Design at the University of Salford. Tell me more about yourself.
Thank you! I appreciate the kind words. I’m a graphic designer and writer! I’m also the founder of Fuse - hosting the Manchester chapter and creating content every day. I also freelance for various clients and have worked in the past with the likes of Yolklore Magazine, Unmasked Zine, Ace & Tate, and First Street Manchester. I live in Oldham - just up the road from Manchester, but I’m always in the city. (Not much during the pandemic of course!)
How did you get into graphic design?
I studied graphic design and photography at Oldham Sixth Form college just before going to Salford University. Before college, like every other secondary school student, I did Art and Design and Tech, but I barely remember anything we did at the time! I knew that I wanted to do graphic design during college after researching various creative work and practitioners, being inspired by the trends during the time, and find out how powerful it can be in communicating a message. Since being at University, my practice enhanced and I learned a lot of what the industry is like; good and bad. More importantly, my confidence grew, and that helped turn my earliest ideas into actual outcomes, which has somehow led me to where I am now.
You have worked for Design Manchester as well as PechaKucha Manchester. Tell me more about this.
Design Manchester noticed the work Fuse had done! Fuse launched in April 2019, and a few months after, hosted its first event alongside Do That Thing & Fresh Magazine. We then got in touch with Design Manchester and talked about how we could take it further through collaboration. We eventually figured it out and around September, we started to plan a panel and exhibition to take place on the conference day. Before our events, I had previously tweeted about Design Manchester’s 2018 conference lineup, disappointed with it having no people of colour. So, since then I have had a few conversations with them about improving diversity and inclusion for the event. Kyle Soo is the host of Pechakucha Manchester and we had been talking since I graduated from University, about Fuse. Kyle wanted to invite me along to speak at their September event, at the People’s History Museum. Thanks to that talk, Kyle then wanted to bring me onto the team to help out with future events - since November onwards, the team expanded and I have been a part of the events since.
Life is extremely uncertain right now. Do you have any advice for current students?
With all honesty, I don’t know what the future holds for our industry. But for now, my piece of advice for students (and even graduates) is to find what you’re passionate about and create your own space - by creating your own space I mean, build your platforms, your self-initiated projects, and set the foundations right now. If it’s based around what you’re passionate about, you’ll be able to expand the projects way beyond what you think could be possible. Research, write down what you want out of the projects, and figure out how to start. Also, use the network you have. Fellow students and graduates are part of your network - invite others to collaborate. Once the project foundations have been settled, you can start working on it slowly and add to your portfolios - it could turn into a business in a couple of years too.
So, let’s talk about Fuse. For those that do not know, please explain what Fuse is about.
Fuse is an inclusive platform, elevating the voices and work from creatives of colour! Fuse posts daily content across social media, publishes weekly articles, has various directories of creatives, and also hosts events! It started in Manchester, but now is in five countries - thanks to several hosts who have taken on the Fuse brand to their local cities. It currently has 10 chapters in cities like Berlin, Chicago, and closer to home, Leeds, Birmingham, and more. Fuse shines the spotlight on those of colour, creating a more representative industry and offering a safe space to those who need it.
How important is using your voice for good and change?
Massively important. I think this year has already shown just how it needs to be used for good and for change with the heightened conversations surrounding Black Lives Matter, communicating the need to protest for human rights. As designers, we can communicate whatever message we’d like to, but it’s up to each designer to choose if it’s for good and change. If you’re not designing for good, then what are you truly designing for?
My last question is, what is next for Jaheed Hussain?
Right now, there’s an open call for Fuse Magazine - something that I’d always wanted to do. So, hopefully, the first issue will be published soon. (Published here) One day, it could get to print too! For Fuse, that’s the next step. For me, I’ll probably take a bit of a break! I’ve been working on a freelance project for just under two months now, so when that’s done I’ll probably be sleeping.
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