Every member of the Designity community finds their way to their true calling in a variety of ways.
For some, the path is a straightforward one, and for others … it’s a bit more interesting.
Today, we’ll share one of those interesting stories with you!
We recently had the privilege of sitting down with Irish-born Creative Director, Simon F., to hear his story.
It’s an inspiring tale you won’t want to miss, so if you’re ready to learn how Simon made the leap from student at a Don Bluth-founded animation course to a leading force at Designity, then grab your front-row seat, because we’re ready to bring it to you!
It’s time to meet Simon!
What is your origin story? How did you get into design?
Might be a little different than some of the other Creative Directors.
I went to Ballyfermot College, an animation school in Ireland. It was founded by Don Bluth, who might have done some of your favorite childhood films like Land Before Time, Secret of NIMH, An American Tail, All Dogs Go to Heaven, all that kind of cool stuff.
It was a classically oriented pencil drawing course, the kind of stuff that goes into cell animation, with a huge emphasis on draftsmanish. That would have included 8 hours of life drawing every Monday for about 3 years. There was also a strong emphasis on screenwriting, storyboarding, painting, and more abstract visual language exercises. The visual language exercises in particular were an early introduction to graphic design, something I didn’t appreciate at the time but refer back to again and again in recent years. So yeah, I went into the art world through animation.
After I graduated college, I decided not to pursue animation. I was in my 20s and I wanted to be an artist of some kind, so I took a job in my family business while I pursued other interests.
Family business? What kind of business does your family have?
It was a pretty big salad factory for a while but downsized a lot during the recession. If you ever went to a deli counter in Ireland and they had coleslaw behind it, we would have made that coleslaw.
How did you get back into design?
Salads only fill you for so long. I decided to get back to my career, so I went back to college briefly to do a desktop publishing course, which is just about at a graphic design level.
It was basic, “here’s how you use InDesign.” Back then, QuarkXPress was still the program in use, maybe it still is today, somewhere. But after that stint in the desktop publishing course, I worked in a small graphic design studio in Dublin called “Outsource Graphix” for about a year.
I made T-shirt graphics for a while and worked in another print-oriented graphic design studio. Eventually, I settled into a long-term position in a wonderful Dublin-based marketing and design studio called Juvo. I had applied for what I thought was a print design job, but it turned out to be web design.
They had a fantastic designer at the time, Steven Dunne. He mentored me when I first landed the web design position. Then, over the years I worked my way up to Senior Designer and project manager positions in the company. We were a small startup when I joined but we had grown it a lot by the time I left, with a handful of international clients to our name.
It was probably the most significant part of my journey into marketing and graphic design. I just kind of learned on the job. I learned a lot about web design, a lot about print design, branding, copywriting, and a lot about working with clients
Then I came to America and fell into the Auto Parts and Accessories industry.
Auto parts and accessories?
Yeah, I joined a company that manufactures parts for luxury cars.
I was their in-house designer for about a year when I first came to America. To be honest, I didn’t come to America to further my career so, initially, I was just looking for a position to pay the bills. But it turned out to be really rewarding work with a lot of web design and brand development.
What made you want to move from Ireland to America?
My fiance, Kim, was a student in Ireland for about 4 years. When I first met her, I said “I’m not moving to America.”
Then three years later, the plan was made for me to move to America.
I’ve been here in Florida for almost five years now.
How did you make the leap from designing for the auto parts company to Creative Director at Designity?
So, I was the senior graphic designer at the auto parts company. Like I said, they had web design projects, print projects, and everything I’m doing now at Designity. But I didn’t get to utilize my project management or copywriting skills as often as I liked.
After a while, I realized I wanted more, so I decided it was time to progress and to move forward. It was impossible to say no to Designity when the opportunity arose.
What would you say is your favorite type of project to take on?
Web design is still my comfort zone.
It’s something that comes out of me intuitively. I can pump out some wireframes and web design with my eyes closed, I can offer advice on it very easily.
And I love to see what’s happening in web design. The changes can be quite small, but every couple of years they start to stack up to the point where web design from 5 years ago looks like it’s something from the Stone Age.
That said, I don’t think I could concentrate on just pure web design. I get a bit frustrated when I don’t have an influence on projects in a more holistic way. I love to be able to determine the boundaries of a brand, to explore the copywriting and marketing initiatives.
I’ve had some great opportunities to do that with many of my clients here in Designity.
What is your favorite thing about working at Designity?
Getting to know their personalities, figuring out what they’re good at, helping them get better at some stuff. Just having so many to chat with throughout the day. I’m kind of an introvert but I’m also a people person so it’s nice to have a reason to communicate with so many different people.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
Writing. I like to play around with a bit of fiction.
In the middle of all my graphic design work, I also did some copywriting for the marketing and design company in Dublin, and I’ve also managed some copywriting projects for Designity as well, largely blog writing, SEO content. In my personal time, though, I like to write fiction.
I also love watching movies.
<div class="c-blog_comp-cta cc-component-2"><div class="c-blog_comp-cta-left"><div class="c-blog_comp-cta-left-wrap"><img src="https://global-uploads.webflow.com/61cdf3c5e0b8155f19e0105b/63695243d096983691046ac3_Potential-Creative.png" loading="lazy" alt="" class="c-blog_comp-cta-left-img"></div></div><div class="c-blog_comp-cta-right cc-dark"><div class="c-blog_comp-content"><div class="c-text-wrapper cc-mb-32"><div class="c-title-4 cc-bold"><strong>Like to work as a freelancer with consistent income?</strong></div></div><div class="c-text-wrapper"><div class="c-text-2">Designity's collaborative model is designed to give you all of the perks of being a freelancer without the income instability.<br></div></div></div><div class="c-blog_comp-wrapper"><a href="http://designity.com/creatives" target="_blank" class="c-button w-button"><strong>Join Our Creative Community</strong></a></div></div></div>
Do you have any words of inspiration for Creatives and future Creative Directors?
Just keep at it.
Keep your nose to the grindstone. A lot of it is just showing up. To get better, you’ve got to stick with it and not give up.
And you’ll have setbacks.
You might get a job as a senior designer, get let go, and have to take work as a junior. Things like that might be a tough hit to your ego but keep working because as long as you’re in the game, you’ll get to where you want to be.