The Outside Directory is a list of brilliant UK creatives from everywhere except London

Office Of Craig, a Manchester-based design studio, announces its project The Outside Directory, which aims to address the imbalance of creative representation across different regions of the UK.

15 November 2021

A wealth of talent and creativity lies beyond the UK’s capital, but regional creativity is still commonly underrepresented across all creative industries. Craig Oldham and Alice Fraser from design studio Office Of Craig want to change this. Oldham and Fraser are concerned that in the post-Covid landscape, creative investment and support in areas outside of London must be encouraged. Office Of Craig feels it will only be detrimental to our long term collective creativity if this marginalisation continues.

The Outside Directory, referring to regions “outside” of London, hopes to give a collated resource for people looking to champion creativity happening around the UK. Fraser believes that “Working in the creative industries outside of London is one of the most rewarding decisions” she has made in her career. The designer at Office Of Craig and the co-founder of the directory continues that “even working in Manchester, the idea is still largely met with a sort of patronising provincial outlook. The idea that you have to be in the capital city to be successful needs challenging now more than ever” she continues, “but more so, we wanted to show solidarity, support, and encouragement to those people working in the amazing cities and towns around the UK, and celebrate the standard of work they’re doing. So we started writing lists of the people we admired working outside London”.

“Craig and I both believe that a resource such as The Outside Directory was long overdue. As a creative director and emerging creative respectively,” explains Fraser, “we both recognise that great work is coming from every region of the UK, but yet the outdated myth that London is the only option for creative success is still being perpetuated through our education system and also though the creative industries themselves.”


Office Of Craig: The Outside Directory (Copyright © Office Of Craig, 2021)

Oldham, the creative director at Office Of Craig and the other founder of the directory, says that when collating the directory initially, “It became apparent our lists were inadequate. We felt the directory should grow organically,” he explains, “and be representative of the communities themselves and not censored by us, our tastes, relationships, or experiences.” The studio then put out an open call on social media inviting people from around the UK regions to collaborate with the studio, “and started an absolute beast of a collaborative spreadsheet into which around 100 people could voluntarily input information from their creative communities wherever they were,” narrates Oldham. Before they knew it, they had close to 1,000 entries listed from all over the UK. “It truly felt like a community effort.” The website is open for anyone to contribute through the completion of a simple form.

The aim of the directory is to provide a valuable resource for graduates looking to live and work outside London, and contribute to the maintenance of the talent currently studying in educational institutions across the UK’s regions. “The breadth of collaboration compiling the directory not only showed us the diversity of creative practitioners working across the UK,” believes Fraser, “but also solidified our desire to champion this creativity.”

Oldham chimes in similarly, believing that the directory is a tool which is long overdue. “As recently as the week of this press release, I got an email from one of our founding contributors saying that people were still asking if they knew of any agencies outside London and I can’t help but meet these inquiries with disappointment,” he says. “Each year I see great work coming from the regions, and see festivals, events, agencies and groups, form and grow and celebrate talent, and yet the same outdated myth is perpetuated of London being the only option.” Fraser expands that the two hope that the directory becomes an “integral resource for emerging creatives, students, graduates and future generations to see what’s local to their home or place of study. We also hope this becomes a great communication tool between businesses themselves, so that they can start to champion, work and collaborate with creatives and each other, all on their own doorstep.”

Diversity, inclusion and representation have been parroted terms and implemented thoroughly in our day-to-today dialogue, but Oldham says that “we cannot and will not achieve anything close to a meaningful way forward and solution to these crippling issues unless we have real and equal opportunity spread across the UK. I believe the UK has an abundance of talent, but I do not believe for a moment it can only be realised in London.”

GalleryOffice Of Craig: The Outside Directory (Copyright © Office Of Craig, 2021)

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Office Of Craig: The Outside Directory (Copyright © Office Of Craig, 2021)

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About the Author

Dalia Al-Dujaili

Dalia is a freelance writer, producer and editor based in London. She’s currently the digital editor of Azeema, and the editor-in-chief of The Road to Nowhere Magazine. Previously, she was news writer at It’s Nice That, after graduating in English Literature from The University of Edinburgh.

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