The Graduates 2012: Grace Helmer – The Fugitive by Primo Levi

Work / Miscellaneous

Come take a look back at this week’s quest for the Ideal Studio with Represent Recruitment

For the third week of our search for what makes the ideal studio with Represent Recruitment, we changed gear a bit and threw it open to some designers rather than people who run studios. We approached some freelancers to pick their brains about the various studios they had worked in, and we spoke to a couple of young designers to get a fresh perspective as well. You can add your thoughts as well using the discussion thread below…

First up was Rob Peart, who set the tone for the week by emphasising the importance of letting creatives do what they do best. He said: “For me it all comes down to support—as much as it can, the management needs to alleviate the pressure on the creative team. This applies at a practical level too—you don’t want your designers worrying about how the hell they’re going to pay the rent when you want an award-winning campaign out of them.”

He also articulated the idea that studios should stand for something. “You do not want to work in a studio that is just churning stuff out, that sees design as a big cash cow,” he said. “Designers are putting stuff in the world and we should be conscious of that responsibility – but I’m not saying you need motivational posters with mountains on or anything like that.”

The idea of leadership was also picked up on by Ryan Ras and Yarra Jones. Ryan said: “Good leadership is good vision and being able to communicate that vision as well. There has to be clear direction, not just for projects but as a studio. Leadership is really about relationships, about feedback, not about hierarchy.”

And Yarra pointed out: “A really good creative director is someone that is present, not a superstar you never see because they’re orbiting the globe somewhere.”

She also had some interesting thoughts on how studios could and should utilise freelancers. “Studios should see more senior freelancers as specialists: people to bring in at the beginning of the process, rather than at the end to help tidy up and roll out. Use them semi-permanently as an extension of the full-time team or even replace full-time positions – e.g. have a senior freelancer in two to three days a week instead of a middle-weight five days a week.”

“Studios should see more senior freelancers as specialists: people to bring in at the beginning of the process, rather than at the end to help tidy up and roll out."

Yarra Jones

For Grace Helmer, the importance of people actually taking time to engage with new recruits is vital. “As an intern it makes a massive difference if someone takes the time to explain how things work and to give you some clear guidelines,” she said. “When you are thrown in like that it’s not always clear what you are actually meant to be doing.”

This was echoed by Bruce Usher who, like all this week’s particpants, stressed cultural rather than physical factors. “I think that the dynamic of a studio environment is more about the people you’re surrounded by than the physical structure, or what’s in a room; so understanding the people you work with is important.”

And he stressed the importance of genuine social interaction. “If you spend time with them outside work and know what they are interested in you talk to them as normal people rather than in graphic design clichés.”