Hey Ya’Qub! Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. It's a pleasure to have you here. Tell me more about yourself.
No problem at all, thanks for having me on the blog. I’m a designer at SUN branding and have been apart of the team for around 18 months now. As well as the work I do with SUN, I am a new co-host of the Creative Waffle Podcast, Originally created by Mark Hirons, which is a really exciting opportunity, getting to talk to creatives from all over the world, all with different stories, backgrounds, upbringings etc, it’s a lot of fun.
Outside of design, I’m a lot quieter, I spend a lot of time with family (not as much time recently due to Covid), Play some badminton recreationally and I read design books. I’m always interested in learning more about design, whether it be the strategic side of the expressive side, I enjoy learning as much as I can to later apply it to my work.
Like myself, you studied Graphic Design at the University of Bolton. Were you always interested in Graphic Design? Or was it something you got passionate about later in your education?
I did and enjoyed my time there, It’s a great University with a phenomenal design department. Sam, Carol, Anthony, and Sarah were some of the best teachers/lecturers I’ve ever had and I’ll never forget how helpful they have been and how they always pushed me to be the best that I can be, it’s something that I carry with me still.
I think growing up, I figured out pretty early in school that I wanted to do something creative, I didn’t know what specifically that was until around year 8 or 9.
I had started High school at a Grammar school that specialised in Maths and Science (Specifically Physics if I recall correctly). I found a lot of it interesting but none of it held my attention and I’d find myself wanting to do something more active and coursework-based. At the tail end of year 8, I transferred to another school and the first lesson I had was “Graphic Design”. We were creating packaging for those steady hand games that beep at you if you touch the metal, and immediately I loved it, it felt like I got to express creativity with an overarching sense of purpose. I think that lesson was the initial spark.
Going into College my first choice for A level was Graphic Design, I still didn’t know a whole lot about it at that point but it became the only subject I obsessed over. I had an amazing teacher, Andy, who really set in stone my love for design. He seemed excited to teach design and in turn, I was excited to learn about it. He showed us the broadness of design and inspired his class to explore all the avenues available and find what works best for us. Maybe a month into college I was sure that the only thing I wanted to do was work as a designer.
Design is quite broad in terms of speciality. What style are you most interested in?
It is very broad, which I think is amazing because there are so many types of design, that feel so different from one another but a lot of the principles stay the same. I’m not sure if I have a specific style that I’m most interested in. I have a love for pretty much all types of design so it’s hard for me to have my mindset on one single style. I’ve always been interested in type, from layout, specimen posters, to individual typeface creation, etc, so I guess I have an affirmation to typography, but I love to see type work in any style, whether it be used in a modernist style, or all distressed and illegible.
Design eras, almost build off each other, they see a trend forming, and typically the next generation either builds on it and makes it better or completely rebels against it and we get a whole new wave. Either way, each time, design diversifies, gets denser and more characterful, which is great, and it’s the way it should be. So an ever-evolving style I guess is my answer.
Speciality wise, at uni I found myself leaning towards branding, It’s what I enjoy working on the most. So by maybe the 2nd/beginning of the 3rd year at Uni I had decided that branding is where I had the most interest and that’s where I wanted to specialise.
Branding doesn’t have one set style, a lot of our work is based around the type of client, the client’s brief, and the brand's overall needs; What the brand is trying to convey, who it’s trying to be, why it does what it does and then it’s how do we best convey that. Design for me is the visualisation of a feeling, emotion, and purpose. Those feelings, emotions, and purposes differ from person to person, client to client, so the design side of it should too.
On the Chinwaggers blog you spoke about degree shows and went into it in a lot of detail. How important do you think degree shows are when showcasing your work?
The degree show is a great way to celebrate the hard work that went into completing your degree as well as a way of showcasing your work. Having people come over to see your work and talk to you about it is definitely exciting and rewarding.
Students put a lot into their course, it’s not an easy thing to do, so that night, to me, serves as a night to unwind. At that point you’re probably comfortable talking about your final major project because it’s all you’ve thought about for the past 15 or so weeks, so talking to people about the process, why you did it, etc is a nice and relaxing way to end the course, there’s no grading and no stress.
You currently work at Studio Up North? You enjoying it?
Loving it! Even more so than I thought I would. Jamie has allowed Gabi and I to work on amazing projects and be as involved in those projects as we possibly can be. He leads by example, and that makes us better designers, day by day.
It’s such an amazing atmosphere, Jamie does a great job of making sure we have everything we need, We don’t feel a large amount of pressure and it’s a place where our creativity and our differences are celebrated.
It feels like home, I’m excited to go to work in the morning, I can’t wait to see what the day ahead hold and I’m loving the work that we’re producing. Being in a place where you can have fun is important. At the end of the day we’re getting paid to be creative, and that’s a blessing, so we allow ourselves to enjoy the job and because of that, the work keeps getting better and better.
You have been through university and now at work. If you had any advice for people who are going through that now, what would it be?
We talk a lot in branding about brands finding their purpose, why they do what they do. I would take that and apply it to life. Think about why you’re doing what you’re doing, does it make you happy, and so on. Don’t be afraid to question why, that’s how we learn and grow as people. It also helps with critical thinking, asking questions about why this is done in a certain way. Critical thinking can help not only shape your career but your life as well.
Don’t shun opinion from people that aren’t considered creatives. We don’t design for other designers, often we design for audiences that often don’t know much about design. They can give snippets of knowledge that can shape your whole project, as long as you’re willing to listen.
Don’t panic if you don’t quite nail something right away. The whole point of being a student and even a junior designer is that you don’t know everything. Take the time to listen and learn and don’t beat yourself up if something needs correcting. Careers are long, not everything has to be now, now now. If you take the time to learn new things, find ways to improve and stay level headed, things will fall into place. Life is a journey, not a destination.
Don’t try and be anyone but yourself, students and young designers read about the success of big-name designers and you hear “I want to be the next, whoever”.
I’d say be the first you instead of being the next somebody else. Aim to inspire others to do the same, It helps diversify the design world.
And lastly, I’d say, know when to talk time for yourself. The world is obsessed with hustle culture and the idea that you have to always be doing something otherwise you’re falling behind. But you can overload yourself, burnout is real, it’s unhealthy, and your quality of work and life will take a hit. So when you’re feeling like you need a break, take on, even if it’s a day off every once in a while. It’ll help your mental state and help your work too. Keeping your mind fresh is one of the most important things that you can do for yourself.
A question I always end on is, what is next for Ya’Qub Mir?
Ha! That’s a great question. Right now what’s next for me is getting up in the morning and heading to work. In the long run, who knows, I have plans; I have things I’d like to accomplish in life, locations I want to live in, visit, work but It’ll all happen in time. I like to think that I’m a very ambitious person.
Gabi, Jamie, and I are having a blast at SUN, and we want to keep the ball rolling, keep improving, keep working hard, and having fun, and that’s what we’ll do. That’s my focus for the foreseeable future.
I want to keep conversations flowing as part of the Creative Waffle Podcast, we aim to talk to a diverse cast of people, coming from all kinds of walks of life, and celebrate diversity in the creative field, and push for even more diversity moving forward, it’s a big deal to all of us, and it’s something that won’t be a trend, it’ll keep going and constantly at the forefront.
So overall I’m going to keep pushing myself to be the best version of me I can be, whether that be in design or life, and have fun doing it.