We spoke on 3rd August 2020
Hi Jon, you studied at The University of Bolton and graduated with first-class honours. You must be pleased with your result?
Hello Morgan, thanks for having me on; I feel somewhat humbled to give back and offer a splash of hindsight. This is correct. I did achieve a first. In the creative arts academic bubble I think it’s important to note grade classifications don’t always correlate to one’s ability to design. I’d place more value on making and building meaningful connections with peers, other designers, agencies, and creating great work, over busting a gut so you can say you got a first. I did both, so it is possible.
Your final year major project was a creative networking platform called The Chinwaggers. How did you come up with that idea? What are your plans for the future of it? The mentor list on the website is a helpful resource for young creatives; how did you meet the mentors?
The Chinwaggers is a funny story. It was never supposed to be what it became. It started life as my idea for our creative show industry event. When the lock down messed that plan up I decided to steal it back for myself. As a result, I changed my major project idea halfway through the semester. A bold move, and not one I’d suggest doing. When considering a major project think about self promotion so you can raise your own profile and show off a range of abilities, not just design. It’s taken as read that you’ll be able to design. You want to leave university with people in the industry knowing who you are. Do something that creates a buzz, something you can push out on socials that attract people to you. A slight role-reversal never hurts. Be disruptive.
The mentor list is full of people I have networked with, and who I know. That was one of the fundamental ideas behind The Chinwaggers, I’d only bring in people who I knew. That way I could guarantee value. In terms of The Chinwaggers future, who knows. I’m job hunting now. I have firmly pressed pause for the time being; perhaps I’ll pick it up when things are more settled. I know it was beneficial to people. Now you have me thinking I about starting again. Soon perhaps.
During your time at university you were heavily involved in extra-curricular activities; you spoke at Glug Manchester. What was that like?
Yeah I kept busy. University isn’t about tipping up to lectures late, rushing home after feedback and having a coffee at the SU Bar. I took all the opportunities on offer, and then made new opportunities off the back of those. You can read in more detail about this on The Chinwaggers blog, Opportunity.
Glug is a case-in-point. I took the opportunity to attend Glug Manchester with my peers. I took the opportunity to approach the organisers. I then leveraged being a speaker that evening to get myself an internship at a top Manchester-based agency. Think smart, not hard. You’ll do well.
You’re a former British soldier. How has that shaped your life? Are there any parts of serving in the army that have stuck with you in your life, or your graphic design career?
I was. There’s no doubt the army shaped my life. Funnily enough, my talk at Glug Manchester was on this very topic. The army equips you with many skills that stay with you. There is no argument to be had in saying my military background has improved my ability as a professional designer. I’d say time management, deadlines, and attention to detail are transferable skills that I use to this day. I don’t iron my pillowcases anymore, however, my ironed shirts do help reflect me in a positive way.
As a result of COVID-19 you graduated university at a really stressful and hard time. How hard is it to get new work? Has Covid-19 affected you personally?
Hard. Impossible? No.
Life’s a game. Without trivialising the current crisis, I think it’s the way to tackle job hunting.
What’s next for Jon?
I’m keeping my options open, looking for design jobs, in-house, agency, and account management jobs. All three interest me. I have transferable skills in these areas. I think under the circumstances being open and flexible is key.
Following a decade of moving all over the country and the world, I’ve decided to relocate to the Southwest - Bath/ Bristol. It will be nice to settle now.
I’m going to end on a light note. On The Chinwaggers website you suggested people send jokes to help break the ice when approaching you. So my question is, what is your best joke?
Job applicant: “Knock, Knock.”