Jamie Kelly

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Hey Jamie, How are you doing?

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How am I doing? Yeah, that’s a good question. I don’t often get asked that. Obviously, from the initial start with Covid through that initial real personal shock and worry because I’ve got a young family, mortgage, people to pay for, offices so all the usual kinds of money worry things that you sit and panic about. And then after an initial couple of weeks doing that, I say a couple of weeks I say maybe a couple of days of worrying what’s going to happen I kind of found this thing which was like, how lucky we were compared to most of the people and how thankful we should be about what we’ve got. And you know what like the fact that we still had clients we still could keep people employed because they’ll do good work I felt like a bit of personal relief and gratitude.

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So, asking if I’m alright, do you know what I am alright. Everything’s fine. Everything could be better but personally, everything’s okay. And I’m still quite thankful for what we have got really.

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Who is Jamie Kelly?

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I am just a Northern lad born and bred in Rossendale. I have always been into designing in some form I did alright in school but did well at arts and graphics. So I always wanted to be a designer. So I did that at college, again I did alright worked a bit harder in the second year when I had to do it, I got into university I ended up going to Liverpool School of Art which was ace, absolutely loved that. Again I didn’t make the most of the course, I’ve said this in a lot of talks I have done where I wish in hindsight, that I used the people and the facilities and the environment and I could have potentially learned a lot more. I spent most of the time playing rugby and living that kind of lifestyle, which wasn’t aligned with going to art school, I was the only person to play rugby and go to art school at university. I graduated from university and went into work and then didn’t go into design for a few years I worked in sales this got me used to speaking to senior management and boards level people, the sorts of people I talk to now. I’ve always had this thing about design, which isn’t talking about me as such but it is my outlook on life that what you do doesn’t define who you are.

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I always read about other agencies in our industry who talk about living and breathing design, and, you know, everything should revolve around what you want to do for your career. I’m all about enjoying your life and enjoying life as a whole of course design plays a part in that because we enjoy doing what we do but it doesn’t define us or make us who we are. What does make us who we are is who we’re friends with, who are family are, where we live, having a good time. Seeing things and doing things that are not about design really and then you know, better work will come naturally. So if you’re asking who I am, I guess I am a normal Northern lad who enjoys sport and a good time as well as being with his family and design is just what I do for a job and I just really enjoy what I do for a job. I enjoy what I do day to day and I enjoy my life.

What is different about your agency than others, and what makes it stand out?

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Yeah, the great question again. So in this country, and within the Northwest, there are many outstanding agencies, and they’re brilliant in their own right. And, in terms of us standing out, what we like to feel we offer that other agencies don’t offer is that we’ve got a small knit group of people who are all very diverse, with different tastes from different backgrounds, different cultures, that each can offer their unique input on a project. And what that means is that we’ve got quite a small team, however from our experience we are used to working at extreme scale.

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So what makes it different from other agencies is that there is a lot of other agencies out there that offer fantastic work and can do a great job, but haven’t used it delivering it on like extreme-scale from when I say extreme-scale I mean from working at startup right through to large corporate rebrands. So people who have got a very limited budget, need to get real value out of working with an agency partner and large budgets because their actual business objectives are complex and have got a lot more what we call moments there’s a lot more interaction between humans and people and I say because we’re quite small means that we are used to be able to deal with small and start-up businesses and also work at extreme scale.

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That’s one side where we’re different the second side where we’re different is that we harness the power of objective met business strategy, and harness that into the design to make sure that identities and experiences and campaigns that we create are strategically led and match with the KPI’s their business objectives. We lead with that rather than going straight into the design phase. And so we work at C suite level with businesses and directors to help shape business strategies and then we take that into the design to inform that so that we meet our business objectives.

We spoke on 20th January 2021

What is your favourite job you have worked on?

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So the politically correct answer will be that we treat, and enjoy working on all projects, because essentially, what we like to do is see the transformation that we have created. And so the work we do is a vehicle for business transformation, whether that is creating an identity for a drinks company that is entering new markets and helping develop that brand and new flavours or whether that’s a big outdoor leisure industry like caravaning, our focus is the results at the end of it, and the work that we do, and the visual side that is a vehicle for those results.

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So we enjoy all the projects we work on. I like working on smaller businesses that we can create really dramatic changes. So, people that have got like startups or ideas that really need our help to shape it, so people like, you might have heard the company called ‘Crave’ the lady who owns it came to us with the idea that she had and the vision that she described. And then we were worked over the last two years we launched the brand, launched the drink, launched packaging, but then also then with her developing new flavours new packaging, new routes into the market and then forward with the things you see now, that’s nice where you can see the partnerships, where you have formed allegiances basically to help people so I really like smaller projects like that but as much I like working on bigger rebrand projects.

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Do you still feel a sense of accomplishment when other people see your work?

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Every time, I think every single time I see something that we’ve done. You still get those goosebumps. It doesn’t matter what it will be it could be a piece of packaging in a bar that we have worked on or a piece of signage for colleges. When you see things out in the wild it feels really worthwhile. On the flip side to that, you will probably know yourself you will definitely get to that. It doesn’t matter how long you have been working for, I’ve been doing this for nearly 16 years now. When creating print design, it doesn’t matter how many times I’ve done it, you still have that nervousness that eventually everything that you do will be seen in public. People will comment on things, and it’s not that we will do wrong because touch wood we’ve not had anything like that goes wrong but there’s still that nervousness, like will I sleep at night and whether that is like a business guy that has set the brief right through to thousands and thousands of pieces of packaging you still have that nervousness.

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It is really strange to see your work go out in the wild because on one hand it’s really amazing to see the work that you have done doing the job that it should be doing but the weeks leading up to that can be nerve-wracking. This is because it could be like that time where you’ve done something wrong, touch wood it’s not happened yet.

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Like I say I’ve been doing it a long time down so when I’m working with the guys and they’re sending anything to print I say them you know, check it twice, check it three times. You don’t want to be that person who wakes up in the middle of the night, like I am, sweating because you have sent something to print with the type wrong or something. I’m not doing our job a disservice here but it’s not like we’re an open heart surgeon or we’re an educator. Still, bittersweet because it’s really exciting when people say nice things about your work and people commenting on it.

You recently moved to a new office in Manchester from Rossendale?

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So, I’ve worked a lot of my life in the city centre and worked in and around manchester. So when I set up on my own I felt being local in Lancashire would have a beneficial impact on my life. So I set up an office near where I live which was really nice. A really lovely office. We then grew so there were two of us now there are three of us so we had to get a bigger office. We spent around 15-18 months in that studio which was great.

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However, people like Ya’Qub and Gabi coming to Rossendale for their day to day life is probably not that enjoyable for them. I love Rossendale it’s great it’s where I’m from but if I wasn’t from there I wouldn’t necessarily want to go there. I’m getting old now I’m nearly 40 and compared to Ya’Qub and Gabi I’m the old guy and I guess I want to watch them grow and blossom and they’re not necessarily going to do that being sat in four walls in Rossendale whereas being in Manchester will give them more of a platform to go out there and experience exhibitions and meet new people you know all of the things that come with having a city-center office. It’s also easier for them to come into Manchester it’s not easier for me but it’s easier for everyone else so that makes more business sense to make it easier for everyone else. At the moment we don’t spend a lot of time there, but we spend a couple of days a week there well it depends on what we need to do. I’m not a 9-5 person I’d prefer people to work in their own office so we try and do it that way.

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What’s next for Jamie Kelly?

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What’s next? I’ll be honest I don’t think many people know what next at the moment. You used to be able to have three months, six months, one year, three years and even five people know that moment because he felt like three months, six months, one year, three years, and even five-year plans for what you want to do. I like is really enjoying living for the now rather than looking for what is next. I’m really thankful for what I have got today rather than thinking about what can I have or do tomorrow. At the moment I am trying to live for each week to the next trying to enjoy every moment and I am very grateful that I can still continue the job that I like doing and to keep maintaining the work that we’re doing. The next thing would be to get another undergraduate into the industry as soon as I can because it’s hard for the people from university to get into work and it’s hard for people well established in the industry to get work. the next thing for us is to keep on going, keep doing good work, keep making a bigger difference to our client’s businesses, keep enjoying ourselves and keep pushing forward, and hopefully, some things will happen.