Life behind the screens – more from Dan!

by Charlotte Harding

Wednesday 11 May 2022

The second part of my interview with Dan, he gives some creative advice for getting a job in the industry, as well as tips for keeping your creativity going!


Creative Director talking with worker

How do you keep from burning out your creativity?

I suppose I’ve never lost my passion for design, although I had a particularly bad experience with an agency about five or six years ago – which made me fall out of love with it for a while, but that was more to do with who I was working for rather than what I was doing. I became really disillusioned with a few things though and it was affecting my mental health working for this agency.

It also came at a time when I wanted to understand digital marketing a bit more, which I suppose answers your question about how I prevent burnout – I love learning new things. I don’t need to be an expert in everything, but it’s good to understand different things – like software, or how the creative team integrated data, or how they made something move on screen – that’s sort of like the benchmark for me, being able to have a conversation about it. I don’t need the detail, just how it was done.

I took a break from the industry to get some experience of digital marketing and for my own mental health reasons. It was a great experience working with Silverbean and has really helped me with what I do now – understanding if content has done what it was intended to do, and then being able to report back to our clients about how the work has performed.

It’s always about taking the next step and understanding how things work, what’s the latest thing in the industry, what’s the latest trend, just being able to have that conversation that I mentioned earlier – because a lot of clients come to us and want to be inspired.

What advice do you have for people just getting into the creative industry?

So, I suppose this is a split answer:

If you’re going for a job, my advice would be to really understand what that company does – there’s nothing worse than someone turning up for an interview and not knowing anything about who you are, what you do, who your clients are. We’ve had a few instances of this recently, the last person we interviewed turned up completely unprepared – they knew nothing about us so I knew in the first two minutes we were wasting everyone’s time.

If you are coming straight out of University then it’s a good idea make contact with local agencies – ask for placements as well, don’t just send out a ream of emails and hope someone picks it up and replies, they’ll be getting dozens of emails from people just like you. Think personalisation as well! That will land better with the person it’s aimed at.

Also, I’ve had people come for an interview and present a portfolio of around 60 pages of stuff – you don’t need all of that. I personally have an attention span of about 15-20 minutes, so just show off your best three or four projects – and talk about the process, I’m more interested in where the ideas have come from rather than the finished thing.

I think it’s important you know what’s happening in the industry – read up on stuff all the time, this goes back to the other question about resources – there’s such a wealth of information out there for people, as well as stuff to learn – with the worst of Covid behind us events are happening again. So you should get to as many events as you can and speak to people, speak to designers in person – because we’re so used to seeing stuff on screens now, I think it’s important to get out there and have conversations with people. The art of conversation seems to be a dying thing with the youth today.


Dan doing creative work in the office

Do you think we’re too scared?

Yeah, I think kids today genuinely are – you know it’s quite sad in a way. At university we were encouraged to present our work throughout the whole process in front of my tutors or all of the students off my course. It was terrifying at first but I look back now and it set me up really well for when I went for interviews.

It’s really important to be out talking to people, getting out to events, you can hear about what’s going on in person. So look out for things – it’s a constantly changing industry, and a brilliant one.

A huge thanks to Dan for finding time to chat and share his creative advice – and giving such thoughtful responses! Check out part 1 of this interview here!

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