Having worked as a Creative Director/Partner at Oxygen Design Agency (now part of Jacknife) for a long time how are you adjusting to now working for yourself as Weaymouth Creative? What things are different?
Having previously worked for Oxygen (a medium-sized design agency) for 15 years, I was used to being part of a creative team in a busy studio – collaborating, strategizing, leading projects, directing all types of creative assignments and managing staff, interns and freelancers. I think the biggest adjustment and challenge for me now, running a small studio, is remaining focussed, and not taking on too many projects at once. Currently, I have an Account Director and 1-2 freelance designers work with me on a regular basis.
One of the major differences (and reasons I started my own company) is that I can choose what types of clients and what types of creative projects to take on. This not only fulfills me creatively, but also allows me to have a better work-life-balance – since I have 2 toddlers and 2 dogs at home.
What type of work do you do now and what makes Weaymouth Creative different from other companies?
At the core, we are design-focused and rooted in strong conceptual and strategic design thinking. (although you could argue it doesn’t sound that unique in our industry…)
We’ve worked on some brand identity projects over the last year – from healthcare to construction. I love the polar opposite industries, and building a brand from the ground-up is always exciting especially when you can integrate it across various platforms. I’ve been doing a lot more digital work than in the past. I recently directed 2 animated motion graphics videos to launch a new brand.
Another aspect of the business that I am definitely passionate about is conceptual art direction for photography. I have a strong art direction background and have had the opportunity to direct many large scale photoshoots even as far back as my first job as a junior designer/art director right out of OCAD. I recently collaborated with Krug Studios to develop a creative concept for photography on a limited edition artist series Macaron package design for Nadège Patisserie in Toronto.
You’ve previously worked on some rather intense projects such as Holiday campaigns and other large promotions for the LCBO. These are hugely stressful jobs to coordinate props, styling, photographers and sets etc… how do you manage to organize all those things and maintain the vision for the piece?
Working on large campaigns for the LCBO was definitely fun but challenging at the same time because the timelines were tight and the creative expectations were high. A lot of the creative concepts are inspired by global destinations, retail trends, occasions and food and drink lifestyle. So, once a concept was chosen we really brought it to life through all aspects of the campaign, from the tone of voice/messaging to art direction of products and lifestyle imagery. The art direction was key to the success of a lot of the campaigns so we always put together inspirational mood boards for all the stylists and the photographer – so there were no surprises once you got on set (hopefully!). Juggling being on set art directing for more than 1 week at a time was not easy, but I was able to stay on top of the design by working closely with clients and our designers to maintain the vision and oversee the execution of everything.
Coming from Oxygen do you find clients still approach you looking for the same large scale jobs? Do you scale up as necessary to meet the job requirements or are you focusing more on small niche jobs?
It’s a bit of both actually. Clients who have worked with me in the past tend to approach me with larger-scale projects and I’ll assemble a team of creative people to work with me on the project when necessary. Other projects are more niche – like conceptual art direction or custom signage.
Looking at your work it’s clear you love bright & bold colour palettes without making your work appear garish. How do you see your use of colour in your work?
I’ve been told I have a vibrant personality so maybe it translates into my work! In addition to bold typography, I like to communicate messages and concepts through colour(s) to convey an emotion or add personality to pieces.
What part of design are you most passionate about?
Typography. I’m always doodling and drawing letters. I’m drawn to bold typography and communicating clear and concise messages through words. I love handwriting too. Even now with my kids, I’m obsessed with drawing their names in cursive or print. We have a floor-to-ceiling chalkboard wall in one of my son’s rooms so we can draw and write various messages on it. Typography has even made it’s way into my home décor on rugs, vintage signs, dinnerware and paintings.
How are you managing the business aspect of now working for yourself? Do you find it eats a lot of time you could be spending on creating?
I’m definitely doing a lot more business management/development than I did in the past, but I try to limit any administrative work to after-hours so I can focus on being creative during the day. I also have an Account Director who works with me so they handle a lot of the quoting, production management, client feedback, etc.
Is the intent with Weaymouth Creative to grow larger into a fully fledged studio or still remain small and agile?
Having worked in a fast-paced studio environment with lots of creative people for many years, I can’t help but find myself beginning to grow the business… but I would like to remain small (for now at least!) while my kids are still young.
How difficult is it to manage staff? What challenges does taking on employees entail?
I’ve always found managing staff the hardest part of my job. On top of everything else your job entails, you need to ensure people are inspired, motivated and creatively challenged to keep a healthy working environment. I wasn’t taught how to be a manager or mentor in design school, so over the years I’ve had to learn through my own experiences (what works and doesn’t work) and develop my own management style.
Managing different creative personalities (or egos) can be challenging and exhausting at times and it often stifles creativity, so I’ve always tried to work with people who are super-talented, but also collaborators and who are genuinely nice.
What has been the most successful avenue for you to grow your business? Does social media play a role or more traditional avenues such as word of mouth?
I have been fortunate that most of my clients have come through word-of-mouth, but social media has definitely played a key role in new business as well. Some clients have reached out to me via LinkedIn and also through the Designer Directory listing on the RGD’s website. Amazing!