Bailey, hi. You’re two years into your tenure at The Engine Room. Tell us about your role and how it all began.
I studied graphic design at Northumbria University in Newcastle, and specialised in brand in my final year. Keen to boost my CV and apply my learnings to ‘real world’ projects, I approached a number of agencies for internships that would complement my degree. I was lucky enough to be invited to complete three placements – one in London, and two for northern agencies, including The Engine Room.
I had a fantastic two weeks here – particularly enjoying the strategic approach to brand projects to maximise commercial impact. So, I was surprised, but delighted when I was offered a permanent job shortly after.
I joined as a junior designer in November 2019 and have recently been promoted to designer – almost two years to the day since I arrived. I can’t recommend internships enough and would encourage anyone in a similar position to put themselves out there and make the most of every opportunity they’re given.
And how would you sum up the role you have now?
I’m lucky enough to have been involved in a number of extremely varied projects since I began my career here. I’ve had the opportunity to shape completely new brand identities for ambitious start-ups, and help established 100+ year old organisations re-evaluate their value proposition to maintain their competitive edge.
From fast-growth companies to brands encountering cultural challenges, the briefs are usually extremely different, but they almost always centre on the business of design. This has really opened my eyes to the power of brand. Yes, there are big, beautiful, and memorable projects, but the ‘nitty gritty’ of our support for long-standing retained clients excites me now too.
Let’s get rid of the elephant in the room – how have you coped with working from home?
One of the things I loved about my internship at The Engine Room, was the studio environment. So, to lose the dynamic of working in the same space as one another, most days, was really tough – especially so early on in my role.
As a young designer in a creative community, it wasn’t how I thought my career would have started. I know how much there is to learn – by listening, talking, observing and doing – and this is naturally so much easier when you spend time together.
I think we’ve done our best as a company though. We check in – and out – as a team, every day when we’re working from home, and I’ve had more 121s with senior colleagues than I probably would have if we were in the same building. We’ve made time to talk – about both work and non-work stuff – which would have been easy to let slip. But this continued contact has meant we’ve kept our spirits up and we’ve still built great relationships with each other. This is particularly important for new starters – trust me, I know!
I’ve got my head down too, soaking up as much as I can and learning to adapt so that I’m able to self-motivate and remain productive – even in a makeshift office at my parents’ house.
So, while the Government’s latest announcement wasn’t what anyone wanted to hear, we know we’re only ever a video call away, and some of our collaboration tools are brilliant.
So, are you a ‘WFH’ convert?
I recognise the convenience of home working, particularly for people with families, and I think our WFH model works well for The Engine Room – we’re busier than before lockdown which shows we’re doing something right!
My office setup is actually OK now too – thank goodness for IKEA!
But in terms of location, I’d rather be in the office, when the rules allow. I enjoy meeting people – colleagues and clients – so while I’ve still been able to do everything virtually, that I would have done in person, you can’t beat the real thing in my opinion!
What are your three standout client successes from the last year or so?
Coming into the industry and having a full-time role doing something I was so passionate about, was a big deal for me. So, seeing my ideas come to life in my first major brand identity project for Panintelligence, was a really proud moment.
I also love our continuous work with William Smith – one of The Engine Room’s longest-retained clients. This relationship proves the ongoing role of brand and the impact it can have, as well as the need to maintain it. It also demonstrates the strength of our rapport with such businesses who have continued to invest in us, as a partner, even during the tricky times of the pandemic.
And then there’s my recent promotion, of course!
What would be your advice for other people considering a role like yours?
I’ve actually been having this exact conversation with a fellow new colleague recently. Soak up every experience you can immerse yourself in, listen and realise you won’t know everything from the get-go, and question to obtain context and understand things from different stakeholders’ point of view.
Be brave enough to share your work too – people like to see what you’ve been up to so put your ideas out there and maintain an open mind to keep your creativity alive. Don’t be restricted by a computer either – you’ll always find me with an A4 layout pad to hand – I like to sketch and doodle.
And some quickfire ones to finish off…
You’ve had a busy day – would your first choice be a pub, restaurant, or takeaway, and if so, which one?
It has to be the local pub, followed by a Chinese takeaway of course.
When travelling is a little easier again, where will be first on your hit list?
Who’s your dream client?
For me it’s less about size, sector or budget, but more about the brief. I love visual problem solving – particularly when the client has an open mind and isn’t restrictive.
What is your main hope for The Engine Room next year?
We’re currently working on so many exciting projects, and we have a solid team with fantastic skill-sets, so I think there are some really cool things to come from The Engine Room in 2022. I’m looking forward to hopefully spending more time together in the studio, because I think it’s a brilliant place to be!