As the offspring of a textile artist and an engineer, the combination of aesthetic expression and methodical problem solving led me to a career in graphic design, and is without a doubt where I belong. Pre-degree, I came from a more art-focussed background, and my course at University of Cumbria embraced this, and enabled me to develop both a conceptual and analytical way of creative thinking, whilst providing the perfect setting to explore the expansive subject of graphic design. This was a great starting point, as to me, concept is key, and I strive to produce intelligent, effective and conceptually inspired visual communication at all times.
Versatility is also something I strive for in my creative output. I don’t have what you’d call a definable ‘style’— which I’ve found is both a blessing and a curse — but I like to embrace the fact that I don’t. I aim to start each design brief with a clean slate and tackle the problems within. I usually find that a functional and effective visual treatment emerges from the creative process, without having had a stylistic approach in mind to begin with. This isn’t to say that all design briefs can, and should be approached this way, this is just how my process has evolved and how it works for me.
I am very passionate about culture and the arts, and work on a freelance basis with cultural based organisations and individuals (as well as for clients and on projects outside of this sector) but I definitely get a buzz when I can combine my two passions — design and culture. Art and culture are intrinsic to life. Without the resources of our libraries, museums, theatres and galleries, and the creative expressions of music, literature and art we would find ourselves static and sterile. It is because of this I aim to provide these organisations with the ability to engage and interact with audiences through the power of design, to not only keep the interest in the institutions alive and economically strong, but to share, stimulate and enlighten our social well-being.
Being freelance is fantastic. I get to work within my own creative space one day, then join another design team elbow-deep in a project the next. I have to be quick and able to pick up the elements and create something brilliant, and then head back to my desk at home, to be called upon again for another challenge over in Edinburgh the following day. No two days are the same and it’s not something I would change. I love a good challenge and get a kick out of working under pressure, so I feel pretty fortunate to be in an industry that generously serves both. In addition to my freelancer lifestyle, my current alter-ego is as the sole designer at The List, working across both their website and bimonthly magazine. The most recent issue was out on 3 June, so get your copy of this snazzy dose of arts and entertainment news! (#shamelessplug)
Having the odd personal project on the go is also definitely an asset. I flit between digital and print in my day-to-day work as a designer. I do a healthy dose of front-end development as well as graphic design, so my side-projects tend to encompass them both as well. Currently out and about in the public sphere on my Etsy shop thingsbyJD, are a series of Risograph prints and postcards, which were influenced by the artwork I produced for the Bauhaus: Art as Life exhibition at the Barbican. They were the outcome of an exploration of composition and colour, and my first hands-on experience of the riso process. The quality of this type of print is something special, and one I recommend having a go with!
To me, being a designer is not just a career choice, it’s a way of life. Design is about communication, and by tuning in to the details of the everyday; from colours to textures, from sounds and interactions, and by appreciating both the visceral and the visual, I attempt to draw on all these experiences and infuse them into my design to communicate in strong, beautiful and effective ways.
See more work by Jen on Central Station here.
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