ask a designer - with naomi bowden

We’ve been putting the feelers out on Instagram lately to see if anyone would be interested in ‘Ask a Designer’. It turns out you all have some questions! Naomi (me, one half of the team) is here to answer some of them. Do you have a question for us? Send us an email to design@seabirdcreative.co.uk or DM us on Instagram @seabirdcreative

Let’s get started!


Who is Naomi?

Great first question. Straight to the point. I’m Naomi, one half of Seabird Creative. The other half is my other half and also graphic designer Steve. I’ll bully him into doing an Ask a Designer post some time soon. I’m a designer specialising in branding and print workfor small and independent businesses.

I love what I do, and decided that I wanted to start my own thing, mainly so that I can get a dog and manage my own time. I’ve lived in Devon my whole life, and missed it like a limb while I was studying away. Since being back I’ve been absolutely devoted to working with some of the amazing indie businesses we have around here.

The great loves of my life are pasta and small dogs. Owning a dog and not having to worry about fitting them round the 9-5 are is one of my biggest motivations behind creating Seabird Creative. And no more management would be a definite plus too to be honest. It’s time I managed my own life.

I’m completely obsessed with Kanye West and any music he’s part of. Totally unironically. Also 70’s sci-fi horror (The Thing mainly).

 

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How long have you been a designer?

I graduated Uni in 2013 with a degree in Media Production. After a Summer of working in a bar and drinking the stock, I got a job as a Graphic Design Intern at South Devon College late 2013. I had done a fair amount of graphic design and photo editing for my degree, but I learnt more in that 6 months than I did in the full 3 years of Uni. As I’m sure a lot of you know, no amount of education and studying can prepare you for the onslaught of full-time work. I knew immediately that I loved it though, and that it was the area I wanted to build my career in.

After my 6 month internship I got a job at a web design studio, which is where I met Steve. I now work for a healthcare company creating branding and printed materials across several channels, and run Seabird Creative from home. I’m still really new to freelancing, but already I’m so sure that it’s the way forward for me.

To answer the question properly, 5 years. I’ve been a professional designer for 5 years.

 

Have you always been a creative person?

Yes and no. I’ve always been quite bookish and academic more than anything. I’ve always done well in written essays and exams, but creative work really excites me.

Making a decision to get a creative degree and go into a creative line of work was scary. I had to accept that I was passing on something that I was really good at but didn’t enjoy, to do something I was likely going to be shit at but love. Turned out I was shit at it for a bit. I look back on some of my earliest work and cringe a bit – but who doesn’t?! It wasn’t long until I started surprising myself and creating work that was objectively alright.

Thank god it’s all turned out as well as it has to be honest. I know for sure now how much I’d have hated that history degree.

 

How long does a logo design take?

I get this question all the time. Answer is, how long is a piece of string? (Yeah I answered the question with a question!)

Every business has massively different requirements so it’s impossible to say. I tend to spend a good amount of time on research and planning before diving in. Some designers like to jump straight in. There’s no right or wrong way to do things if the results are good. I’ve designed logos for happy clients that have taken a few hours and some have taken a few weeks.

I think there’s an idea among some clients that the longer something takes, the more you’ve got ‘your money’s worth’. I don’t think that’s the case at all! Some of the most experienced, talented designers in the world are incredibly fast workers – does that devalue what they create? No! It’s all about the finished solution, not the way in which a designer gets there.

 

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What’s the difference between a logo and branding?

I actually found a great article about this subject the other day. I can totally understand why this can be such a confusing topic.

You should think of your logo as just one part of your brand. Branding is a business’ overall image, how you are perceived by others. A full brand can include:

·       Company voice (how you speak on social media, the tone of your adverts etc)

·       Company logo

·       Identity (through the use of colour, typefaces, slogans etc)

·       Loads more stuff! It’s your whole image!

In the article linked above, the author says: ‘Many people believe a brand only consists of a few elements – some colours, some fonts, a logo, a slogan and maybe  some music added in too. In reality, it is much more complicated than that. You might say that a brand is a ‘corporate image’. This statement is so true.

In simple terms, your logo is a small part of your full branding system. It makes you immediately recognisable and credible (if done well) but doesn’t massively control your public image. To do that you need a full brand strategy, of which a logo will be key part.

 

What advice would you give to a designer interested in freelancing?

Just be nice to people! Meet creatives like you, swap ideas, find out about other industries. You can’t expect to be able to hole yourself up in your office and be inundated with work requests. It doesn’t work like that. Like they say, it isn’t about what you know, it’s about who you know. Get out there! Make some friends! Be kind and approachable, help people where you can, be an asset to your local creative community. You’d be amazed how many more opportunities come your way.