Our resident artworker, Neil, is widely known for his charm, infectious grin and cricketing prowess. But our latest blog in the Where Next series, scratches a little deeper beneath the surface to uncover more about Neil – here he tells tales of lessons learned in his first five jobs and shares the first steps in his journey to becoming one of Mr B’s artwork experts.
1. Summer Worker, Buckleigh Laundry
Like many I was encouraged by my parents to get myself a Summer job as a Schoolboy. One year, intending to spend the Summer at the beach and playing as many mid-week cricket fixtures as possible I called my Mother’s bluff that “…if you don’t find a job; I’ll find one for you”… and was deliberately lazy in my search/applications.
As Summer approached and tired of being pawned off with excuses; Mum announced that she’d secured me a job and I was starting in the first week of the School Holidays at a HUGE Industrial Laundry located in the adjacent village.
That Devon Summer was a scorcher… so spending 8 hours a day in a huge non-air conditioned metal building sorting through the dirty table wear, bed linen and roller towels that the laundry hired out, collected and cleaned as part of their commercial laundry service, was possibly the WORST way to spend the Summer I could imagine.
LESSON: Retrospectively it taught me a few worthy life-lessons. That a future working in a menial, dirty, smelly and disgusting job beckoned if I didn’t take full advantage of the opportunities and privilege being presented to me. A real motivational tool. I also lasted the ENTIRE 10 week Summer at the Laundry. Many didn’t and quit even before lunch on their first day; so I was very proud/pleased that I stuck it out.
2. Junior Artworker, FPA (Uni placement year)
As part of my University degree I spent the third year of my studies on work placement within industry. I was placed with The Fire Protection Association (FPA); the UK’s National fire safety organisation, at their offices in the central London. I was employed as a Junior Designer/Artworker within the Studio, assisting in the production of FPA’s extensive technical literature.
LESSON: I arrived keen – but a complete novice. The Studio staff, especially the then Studio Manager and Technical Editor were SO helpful, took me completely under their wings and taught me all I needed to know about the role and how to use (the now dated…) Mac OS 8.1, Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop 7 and Quark Xpress 4.1.
3. Junior Artworker, FPA (Post-grad job)
I loved my placement year at uni, being in a busy studio, especially in London – I learnt so much and really excelled. So much so that when I graduated, having kept in touch with FPA, I was invited back as maternity cover for a member of the Studio Staff I’d worked with previously.
My second spell with FPA was a bit different to my Placement year. Having now had some experience there was an increase in my role’s responsibilities and I was given the opportunity to make the position my own when our colleague decided she’d prefer to become a full-time Mum rather than return to the workplace.
LESSON: I realised I was very lucky to be working in the field I’d studied and with the support and guidance of some wonderful colleagues I learnt a huge amount in two and half years I spent with The Fire Protection Association.
4. Creative Artworker, Fleet Street Publications
After a stint freelancing I took-up a position as a Creative Artworker with Fleet Street Publications (FSP), located in the iconic Centre Point Tower, London. A much younger/livelier bunch we worked hard and played harder; taking full advantage to the great office location. I really enjoyed my time at FSP; and was able to put to use the skills and experience I’d gained in the production of financial, investment and share tipping newsletters, publications and direct mail both online and in print.
I was with FSP when the company re-located to the equally iconic and impressive Sea Container House offices on the Southbank of the Thames… literally a stone’s throw from the Fire Protection Association offices.
LESSON: My time with FSP was sadly cut short by the financial crisis and redundancy. This was hard lesson that you never know what’s around the corner. Again, I was very lucky to have worked with a very talented and friendly bunch. They were a fun couple of years in the big-smoke.
5. Artworker/ Signage Artwork Manager, ThinkBDW
A move away to Essex lead to my fifth professional position. After a year working as a freelance Artworker at ThinkBDW in Colchester, I was taken on full time to support the expanding Studio. The staff at ThinkBDW really made the job. The work was very labour intensive with lots of overtime – but the camaraderie we forged and the laughs we had more than made up for this.
After a few years working as a Studio Artworker on mostly printed paper media, my flair and understanding for large format and signage was spotted and nurtured by management. I was promoted to Signage Artwork Manager. The opportunity to work on some exciting large scale products from dressing marketing suites and external signage to large format RCS Climbing Protection Panels on various London landmark skyscrapers all went via me.
LESSON: The great rapport I built up with my small team as well as our in-house printing, manufacture and installation teams made the job a fun and exciting role.
Check out more career confessions in our Where Next series, here!