Richard Slade

As part of our Interview series 1, we spoke with Richard Slade, co-founder of the Neotists, graphic designer, front-end developer and artist who shares his views on starting out in the creative industry.


Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Richard Slade. I’m a graphic designer and a front-end developer and an artist.

I’m a director of Neotists and it’s an organisation I co-founded about eight years ago now. And we are a small community of creatives
in the town of St. Neots who have got like-minded ideas. We are from a whole range of different creative industries and we’re all glued together for a single purpose.

How did you get into the creative industry?

I’ve always been an artist from a very young age. I was always drawing and always just being scribbling down ideas and it kind of went from there. It was a teacher when I was at primary school who got me into drawing, and it was a natural progression into graphics because it was a more commercial way.

So I went to the usual channels at school. I did lots of graphic subjects at college then university and studied a degree and then moved into the newspaper industry. So it was a very kind of fast pace, lots of deadlines so taught me how to work really quickly and efficiently, maybe not so much about quality but then I kind of moved into public sector. That was the part that really honed that skill because you had to really slow down.

So I’d gone through a point of being really fast when you have maybe 30, 40 deadlines in a week to having maybe one deadline in a month. So you naturally have to slow down and take your time because we were dealing with large audiences of millions of people every word, every line, every illustration counts. So you have to make sure you spend that time to get it right. There was a really good balance between those two things of speed and quality that then when I went into being a freelancer I kind of pulled all of that skill into it and it’s worked really well.

What tips would you give to someone starting the creative industry?

The tips I’d give to someone starting the creative industry is to volunteer as much as you can at the start. If you’re going to do work at the vocation, college and university, you need to build up those contacts. And the way you could try to build that is by going out and doing the stuff that you’ve been taught to do so the creative part of it, but being unpaid because then there’s no risk involved no risk to you and no risk to the employer, but you’re able to explore the ideas that you can generate with no risk involved and you can hone that skill and become better at what you do so that then when it comes to those points where you do get paid for it you’ve got a confidence in what you’re doing that you can then deliver a good product or a good design or something creative that will just work for the audience.