Five questions for creatives

Alex Whiteley

Alex Whiteley is a creative ideas-led graphic designer based in Huntingdon and believes in high-quality, considered design, it’s a conceptual artistic approach shaped into a strong set of design principles. Alex specialises in a research-driven use of typography, brand identity, print and web design, social media imagery, digital marketing and videography. Her skills lie in having over ten years of graphic design experience in many different areas of industry, and she recently achieved a master’s degree in graphic design and typography at Cambridge School of Art. Alex focuses on well-researched and developed concepts that best fit the individual needs of each brief. She offers an honest and heartfelt approach, a problem-solving strategy and exceptional, creative design that does not cost the earth.

How did you get into the creative industry, and was there a defining point in your career that led you on that path?

Straight after finishing my bachelor’s degree in fine art at Norwich School of Art and Design I moved to London and got an administration job at a high-profile architectural practice. When I showed creativity I was lucky enough to be swiftly moved into the graphics department where I was trained up on all the packages. It was a great start to my design career, I owe them a lot, including a husband as Tim was the first interviewer for the original administration role.

Is there anything you would change in your current career and if so why?

I wouldn’t so much change anything but I should definitely have had more confidence in my abilities sooner. It’s taken me a long time to officially call myself a designer, in fact only really since doing my master’s degree. Prior to this I often felt I was playing at being a graphic designer thinking others wouldn’t take me seriously without a qualification. The MA has been a complete eye-opener, I turned out to be the student with the most industry experience (not to mention the oldest) so I had a lot of skills and shortcuts to share. Not only has the course helped define who I am as a designer, helping bridge the gap between the conceptual, artistic approach I had during my fine art degree and the commercial requirements of the graphic design work I had been doing, but the experience has provided me with much more, including the enjoyment of research and development and the ability to develop concepts and creative design with confidence through self-initiated projects.

Where do you see yourself, and your career in five years’ time?

I’d like to be turning down work. Seriously though working on my terms around my family is a must. A small creative studio working alongside fellow creatives would be great.

Are there any rules or habits that help you do your job more efficiently?

Communication is key, to keeping clients in the loop, I try to make sure we are on the same page as we work through the creative process. With a family and household to run alongside the business, I always make the working day clear, the school run is factored into my day and if I need to go to a nativity or assembly then it goes in the diary as a meeting.

What tips would you give to anybody who is looking to get started in the creative industry?

Do some pro-bono work; offer your services to charities. Not only is it a good way to brush up on your skills within a workplace environment but it will make you feel good, and they will be super grateful too. Also, build relationships along the way at whatever stage of your career, in this heavily saturated industry you never know when they might come knocking. I’ve found its very much who you know rather than what you know.