What's it like to work at ... Supple Studio
Tell us about Supple Studio and your role there
We’re a purposefully small branding and design agency working with big name clients. And we’re lucky enough to do it from the beautiful historic city of Bath.
We stay small (currently five permanent staff) and agile by collaborating with the appropriate partner for each project we take on.
From writers to photographers, illustrators to makers, strategists to calligraphers – we’ve built up a little black book of the best people around, worldwide.
My role at Supple is varied – as founder and creative director I wear a lot of different hats. Strategist, designer, creative director, typesetter, retoucher, copywriter, project manager, finance director, blogger, tweeter, presenter, artworker, tea-maker, bin-emptier are just a few. As a small team we all have lots of roles to juggle – and to be honest I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I can’t think of anything more boring than just doing one thing all day every day.
What’s your design style?
We pride ourselves on not having a style at Supple. I’d say we have more of a consistent approach. And that approach is to answer each brief individually, appropriately and thoughtfully. By working with a client closely to fully understand their business and get under the hood – we use this knowledge to bring an outside perspective to their business. And then we work hard to design an original solution. We like to make our clients’ jobs really easy by making them look good.
What does a normal day look like for you?
See above – there really isn’t a normal day for me! Today I’ve mostly been designing which is rare (we’re currently working on developing a concept pitch we won for an international paper company). Usually I start my day by catching up on my emails – with some clients overseas there’s always a fresh batch of emails to deal with first thing. I’ll then have a quick catch up with anyone in the team who needs my eyes on a presentation or piece of design that needs to go out of the door. Quite often I’ll have a schedule or estimate to write up for a new project – as a small team we don’t have project managers so this part of the job falls to whoever’s running that particular project. And most weeks there’s a tender proposal or creds doc to write.
In terms of process on a new project we keep things analogue at the early stages after we’ve had the brief approved – everyone presents their ideas scribbled on a post-it note pinned on our massive white board. We like to get tons of ideas on the wall before we start to discuss and edit together to work towards a handful of concepts we’ll then start visualising.
There’s no particular hierarchy here – just a case of whomever is free gets the brief.
Although we do have a few specialisms within the team – illustration, motion and copywriting – so certain people are more suited to certain projects. But I think we’re a pretty adaptable bunch.
What’s your career journey been like to date?
I started my career by training at Somerset College of Arts & Technology under the legendary Malcolm Swatridge (one of the founders of The Partners aka Superunion). In 2001 (having only done two years of my degree course!) I got offered a job at hat-trick design, where I stayed for a brilliant five years.
Those years were kind of like an extension of art college and I learned tons about ideas generation, crafting and running a small design business.
I then moved to Blast Design where I was senior designer for two years – the guys there gave me loads of opportunities to run projects from estimating to presenting, which gave me the confidence to start my own thing. After freelancing for a couple of years I then co-founded Magpie Studio with two good friends. But after five amazing years at Magpie things had changed in my personal life – I’d had two kids and living in London wasn’t working out for family reasons.
I made the tough decision to leave my own agency and start all over again – this time in beautiful Bath.
Five years later I think it’s working out – it suits my family life and I’ve managed to recruit an amazing and talented team who make me proud every day.
This year we made it into the UK Top 30 design agencies (chosen by 80 UK creative directors for Computer Arts Mag)
which is a lovely nod to the work we’re getting our heads down and doing out here in the sticks.
Have you had a favourite project so far?
My favourite project is usually the one I’m working on right now. I never feel like we’ve done our best work yet, so every new project is a chance to prove ourselves still. As soon as I feel like we’ve nailed it then it will be time to give up...
What would you be doing if you weren’t a creative director?
Well I’d always planned to be a musician, get a record deal and make it in a band – design was something I fell into by designing posters, album covers and flyers. So I guess I’d have to be doing that, as it’s the only other thing I’m any good at!
What’s the best thing about your job?
I just love the joy of creation – I get my kicks from the fear a new brief brings me. Then sitting down with a blank canvas and working together with the team here to create something from nothing. It still feels like magic when we pluck new ideas out of the ether. I love that buzz.
And the process of working together to shape an idea is always a joy
all our best work happens when there’s input from a few or all of us.
What has being CD at Supple Studio taught you?
I think it’s made me really appreciate the trust our clients have in us – giving us the kind of work that they may have once only given to a larger London-based agency.
To work with Supple Studio or view some of the stunning projects Jamie and his crew have masterminded, head over to their site.