Graphic design is fun – you hardly know you're working and you're getting paid. From Art College through to the 50 subsequent years in the industry I can’t quite believe my luck – I still love the whole creative process. The profession has treated me well; the wolves that lay bludgeoned at my door are testimony. The bathroom mirror reminds me daily that I have clocked up 70 years while still working with a team of designers with an average age of 32. Now that's courage.
A look around at the majority of acclaimed projects published in the design press reveals versions of the Six Universal Ideas dressed up in Emperor’s New Clothes. But that’s the joy of the challenge – the quest for the seventh is in front of me every morning. It might be timely here to introduce a thought or two about the creative businesses that dish up our daily bread but your bookshelves are already groaning under the weight of all those clever books – and you're nodding off. SEX. Got you back again.
When I was 15 I met a girl who was 17; it was only a short cycle ride down the road where we played 'records' in her bedroom. Out with my mates it would have been so easy to boast about our little arrangement but I stayed quiet. This occasional, casual, happy relationship lasted about two years – about the time I started college when it fizzled out naturally. Cycling home from college one night, a large pockmarked youth stood in front of me grunting almost incoherent words. Deciphering his complaint it became apparent that he was dating this girl (who I'd almost forgotten) and she had confessed to everything about our little frisson. "I'm going to get you. End of the road, tomorrow night. Knives, axes, whatever - you name it".
There I was, a skinny, sensitive art student learning about the wondrous Visual Arts and suddenly this brutish bastard could mean the end of my vocation. I somehow couldn’t move and remained rooted, petrified to the spot. "Swords" I blurted out. "I think I can get some". No more words were exchanged – the silence was interminable, terrible. I turned and rode off trying not to wobble. And that was that.
Funny old thing graphic design. Think on your feet.
That brings me to the subject of self-preservation – unless you're working on a cure for life-threatening diseases our work is simply a means, not an end. Keep a sense of perspective, find time for your partner, find time for your kids if you're lucky enough to have them. You will not be remembered for that company's wonderful rebrand but by the total package that is you. Time is as valuable as profit. But recognising it, and doing something about it takes courage because it will mean pushing back on the ever-ridiculous deadlines placed upon us, and heaven forbid, even turning down work occasionally to make time.