Paul Kerlaff is a furniture and product designer based in Edinburgh and specialising in collaborative projects. Paul is also a Studio Tutor in Architectural Design at ESALA and in Product Design at the Edinburgh College of Art. These are his first five jobs. 

1 Religious Illustrator
A Sikh man wearing speedos approached me in a Longridge sauna, and asked if I could draw his family being blessed by the Guru Gobind Singh Ji. To this day I have no idea what Singh Ji should look like, but this didn’t seem to be an issue. I knocked out several more for his friends, all in pencil crayon, before this bizarre seam of work dried up.

2 Hi-Fi Salesman, Preston Town Centre
Neds would run in, yank up the volume on the biggest hi fi systems, and run away in a wall of white noise. Phil the Manager played Simply Red as a demo tape endlessly. Dark, dark days.

3 YMCA Daycamps Instructor, Lakeside, Windermere
The kids arrived by bus in the morning and we’d have a brilliant time running them ragged and telling them rubbish until teatime. Once week a co-instructor and I convinced our group that we’d been co-joined twins, attached by the earlobes and recently separated – hence our ‘leaning’ walks. By Thursday they’d figured out not to trust us, as we had terrible backache.

4 Life Model, Edinburgh
Harder than it looks. I supplemented my student grant by taking my clothes off in a variety of life drawing classes across Edinburgh, and still get approached by ex students who are SURE they know me, but just can’t place it somehow… something to do with clothes….

5 California Coffee ‘Barrista’
In a classic case of ‘up-selling’, I converted one of my regulars at the iconic Edinburgh police boxes into my first client, by flogging him a coffee table to go with his espresso. Shameless, but effective.

Follow Paul Kerlaff on Twitter:


We’ve asked professionals in creative industries what jobs they have had in the past to get their foot through the door (or at least pay the rent). For more in the “My First 5 Jobs” series look here.