Creativity is at the forefront of all services we provide at LOVELIVE. All of our team members come from creative backgrounds – and our Creative Lead, Garrick Middleton, has 20 years of experience under his belt. We have asked him a few questions regarding his career so far as a graphic designer and his four years with us at LOVELIVE.
Starting off with the usual question – when did you first realise you wanted to choose design as a career path?
I got into Art & Design at A-Level – actually doing my exam in sculpture. That led to an Art Foundation where I tried all sorts of things: fine art, photography, ceramics etc. It was here that I first discovered Photoshop – and it was a revelation: the perfect match between my artistic nature, and the computer/science nerd in me. So I kind of knew at that point, that if I was ever to make a go of a career path, it’d have to be something I had a passion and interest for.
I’d always had a love of movie posters, and collected as many as I could from the local video rental shop. So, for my final college project, I created a fake film about the Mary Celeste, and did all the promo art for it in Photoshop 5. Then it was really just a case of figuring out how to make my passion into a career.
What inspires you at LOVELIVE? Do you have any advice for team leads on how to inspire a team?
I’ll use a recent example actually: the creative team and I were working on a branding project. I was keeping tabs on their own solutions for the brief, and they were so good that I wanted to go back and push my own work even further – I think when someone else’s skill and passion empowers you to raise your own bar, then that’s a great environment to be in.
Advice for other team leads? I think it’s important for the team to know you’re working for them – that you’ve got their best interests at heart. It’s great at LOVELIVE that everyone is given a great deal of ownership for each job they’re on – so letting them run with a project is the norm, as opposed to micro-directing everything for them. This makes it easy for me to show I have faith in what they can produce – which is key, because as creatives, they love putting their own stamp on things, and need that freedom to do so.
And also, when I share my 20-year experience stories with them, it will tend to be a tale of when I’ve failed in the past – and what I learned from it – so that they can hopefully avoid the same pitfalls and grow quicker than I ever did. So, make sure you share your mistake stories as much as (if not more than) your successful ones.
Can you tell us about some designers that have inspired you along the way? In what ways did they make you the designer you are today?
In the early days, it wasn’t so much the well-known designers that you tend to study, it was my Creative Director and Art Director – certainly in my first proper design job. It was from them I become a professional at design, mainly in advertising: learning the art of entertaining the audience with eye-grabbing headlines and intriguing art direction; being schooled in the fineries of balanced composition and solid, well thought out graphic design. It was really them that set the foundations that I still build on today.
And being in a small local agency, we didn’t have separate departments (such as artworking, photography, copywriting, retouching) we had to do it all ourselves. This has given me a wide-reaching amount of experience and skills in all the departments of your typical agency, as opposed to be being a specialist in just one thing.
Let’s talk about the future of design – what are you most excited for?
Well, I’d be foolish not to say it’s AI, seeing as I wrote a blog on it a short while ago. AI is already become a hugely flexible – and fast – tool to add to our box of tricks. Don’t believe everything negative you hear about it though: it’s not the be-all and end-all – it’s just something else we call upon to help with the broader creative process. The speed and efficiency to create visualisations for you can really supercharge the ideation process, and sometimes take you off into completely new directions.
I kind of see it in the same way that 3D printers and rapid prototyping has revolutionised many industries – such as prop-making or engineering – the speeding up and freedom to experiment far more than you could have done before.
What are some perks of working in a smaller team of designers?
Without doubt it’s the ease of communication – from top to bottom – everyone’s always on hand to help and get involved. Which also makes it an incredibly supportive environment – no one’s ever left in a silo, the up-shot of which is there’s a lot of skill sharing and cross-collaboration between teams all the time really easily.
How do you approach a design project?
I always start the end: Always at the end objectives and work back. You’ve got to be true to your clients’ objectives and strategy at all times, that’s always your guiding light. But the creative team is always there to drive the strategy too, not just in creating the end work. Planning the strategy or brief can often be done without creative representation but you’re missing expertise whose input could unlock new communication opportunities if that’s the case. Strategy and creative should be two sides to the same coin and bounce off each other at all times.
The old saying of form follows function can hold true, but getting creatives in the room to start with, can often mean that function follows form for a change!