Learning my trade
After leaving school, I chose to study Graphic Design at Basingstoke College of Technology. During the summer break between the first and second years of the course, students were asked to find a work placement. I was lucky enough to find a month's unpaid work placement (that later turned into a full-time, paid summer job) at a fantastic local design agency called Birddog
. Under the tutelage of Creative Director Dave Houldsworth and Senior Designer Steve Griffiths, I learned skills required to form a strong foundation for a career in the design industry. After continuing to work 3.5 days a week at Birddog through my second year at college, I graduated from college with a Distinction and chose to go to Plymouth College of Art and Design to take my studies further. I continued to work through my studies at Plymouth, working as a Freelance Designer for various local design agencies. I graduated from Plymouth with another Distinction, this time the highest grade that any student had been awarded at the time. Overall this was a fantastic time, learning from some kind, generous and inspiring people.
The Freelancing Years
When the time came to leave education and start working full time, it made no sense for me to take a full-time role at one company. Instead, I chose to start working as a Freelance Designer, made possible by the experience I'd gained working for a number of years at various design agencies. Over the next 5 years, I built a strong network of contacts and a successful freelance career working with various design agencies across the south including Birddog, RHC, The Designlab, LeePeckGreenfield, The Ransom Group and Idealogy. Working as a Freelance Designer was a fantastic experience as it allowed me to gain experience, knowledge and skills from a wide range of great Designers, Creative Directors and Project Managers.
I'd always been keen to build my own company and in April 2007 I started my own design agency called Custom Studio
. The vision for Custom Studio was to create great design work that was tailored to a client's business and their target audience. The business model was a simple one, the same model as most of the agencies I'd worked with used... the hourly rate model. This simply involved discussing a client's requirements, estimating the time needed to deliver the project and then multiplying the time required by the company's hourly rate. While this model works fine for one-off projects such as Branding, Business Cards or a Brochure, when it came to websites this model was too rigid to work with the rapidly changing nature of business websites. This was a tough time for me as the company's cashflow was turbulent due to the nature of working with clients on a one-off basis.
Evolve or die
Through 2011 I began thinking that there must be a better way to create and support businesses with their websites. During that year I read an amazing book called The Medici Effect
that talks about the way new ideas are created by merging concepts and ways of thinking from different industries. This lead me (along with my good friend Sean Toomer) to create the Evolve website concept that I launched at the beginning of 2012. Immediately the concept was well received by clients and Evolve started to gain momentum. Evolve was a real game changer for the company and for me personally, giving the company a consistent cashflow through recurring income, but also giving me the ability to be very relaxed about charging clients and to give the high levels of service and support that I enjoy giving. 2012 was a big year... not only was it the year I launched Evolve, but it was also the year I got married to my beautiful wife Faye.
Work to live, don't live to work
When I'm not working, I love to spend time with my wife Faye, my two children, Louie & Orla, my friends and my family. I have a huge passion for cars (my pride and joy is a Caterham Seven
), good food and good beer. I also enjoy cycling, playing squash and walks by the sea.
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