Alistair Hall, Director of We Made This Ltd shares with us his journey from graduate to running his own studio, blogging and how failure can ultimately lead to success..
Tell us your elevator pitch:
We Made This is a London based graphic design studio specialising in delicious print work.
Did you have any business knowledge prior to setting up your company?
I had worked as a production assistant for a commercial production company making TV commercials for a couple of years before starting my degree at St Martins, which helped teach me how to multi-task. After my degree I worked at CDT for a year and a half, where I learnt a huge amount about the process of working with clients, budgeting, pitching, presenting and so on, as well as about pure design. Then I got a place on NESTA's Creative Pioneer Programme, where we were taught a lot about the nuts and bolts of running a business. I run We Made This on my own, and share a studio with two other design companies, David Pearson Design and Fitzroy & Finn.
London Design Guide designed by We Made This
When you were growing up what did you want to be? What happened which made you become what you are now?I'm not sure I ever wanted to be anything particular. Actually, scratch that, I wanted to be a film director. That's why I started working in commercials, but after a while I realised it wasn't for me. While I was looking at jobs in that industry, as research I read a book called something like Diaires of Film-makers - it was a Faber & Faber book which detailed the daily lives of a variety of folk working in the film industry. One of the diaries was from a film producer, and she talked about going to meet the guys who were making the poster for her film. I knew instantly that I didn't want to make films, but to make posters instead.
What do you wish you had been told in college/university about the real world?
Nothing. College is a good time to dream. Though it might have been useful to know how long it takes to pay off a student loan. But heck, even if I had known, I'm not sure I would have done anything differently.
IPA identity designed by We Made This
Have there been any big mistakes/failures which have lead to success?
NESTA were offering business funding to some of the folk on the course, and I didn't succeed in getting that funding. I think if I had got it, my journey might have been quite different. Whether that would have been a better or worse sort of different... tricky to know. I'm happy where I am though.
What advice would you give to yourself 5 years ago?
Get out of the house and find a studio. Book more holidays. Don't try and ride across that roundabout at full speed - you'll break your arm. Again.
What can you only learn on the job?
You learn a huge amount once you start work, and you keep learning. Don't expect to be perfect when you start. But be honest about the fact that you're not perfect.
How important do you think having an online presence is and how signficant a role does your blog play in marketing your brand/service?
I find it difficult to quantify it to be honest. Obviously having work online is really important - people rely on being able to see your stuff immediately. Jobs are just starting to come in on the back of the blog, which is great. I'm in the middle of building a new site - once that's up, I'll have a bit of a marketing push.
Teenage Cancer Trust promotional material designed by We Made This
Who would be your dream client?
The one with a solid and well thought out brief, as well as a realistic budget, who then lets us just get on with the creative work. And who says thank you at the end of the job.
What aspirations do you have? do you see We Made This expanding further?
I want to do more self-initiated work, I've kind of been letting the blog take the place of that for the past few years. As for expansion... I've got a few ideas bubbling around my head, but nothing firm just yet.
You've had interns at We Made This, what do you look for when choosing potential graduates to join your team?
Brilliant work and a general air of loveliness.