Last week I started my feature with a few words from Fritha Strickland in Bristol – today I have words of wisdom from another designer, and friend James Rice.
I’ve asked him to do this feature for me because he strikes me as so motivated and driven, as well as talented, that I can’t help but feel motivated myself when we talk about design, or in fact about life in general. He appears to me to have a straightforward attitude – ‘Just get on with it’, which I regularly need to be reminded of because I am the Queen of faffing about and procrastinating.
“I’m James, a 24 year-old graphic designer living and working in Derby.
I remember in High School doing a “tut tut” at what I thought was poorly executed design, though at the time I’m not sure I fully realised design was actually an occupation — but I remember thinking I could do better. I definitely had a picky/perfectionist streak in me early on. I found myself being consumed by the visual arts and the more I explored, the more I knew it was the career path for me to follow.
University was a great experience, and coming from a small town where I grew up I think it definitely opened my eyes to bigger things. Aside from the academia aspect (which of course is important), a really valuable thing you take away is the experience of working, playing and existing around other people with the same or similar interests to you.
I’ve worked freelance since graduating, managing to secure some clients that pay well, pay on time and provide regular work. For me I always felt like I had established myself to a certain degree before I had even started my final year at university and got my degree. My “strategy” has always been focused on my professional identity. I think I was one of a few of my course mates with a professional, self-coded, well branded website to showcase my portfolio — and I think that really helped.
In terms of business savvy, I’ve always been entrepreneurially inclined. A younger me had numerous side projects on the go; from an online business directory to a music promotions company. As well as learning a lot from these, I had some really fun times along the way.
Some things I learned were:
The practical side of coding a website from scratch — learning HTML / CCS.
Setting up bespoke systems — from invoicing to client management.
Advertising events effectively — designing posters, flyers and using social media.
Managing money and formal practices — incorporating a company and running it.
My work in 5 words:
Clean, digital, datavis, Swiss, on-point.
There is a handful of notable things I’m proud of; Playing an integral role in some high-profile projects such as Chromaroma which has been covered by BBC, The Guardian and been exhibited in the MoMA and the V&A; Speaking at a PechaKucha event in Derby. Even though public speaking scares the shit out of me, it’s great for personal development.
I don’t do a massive amount of active self promotion. I think I mostly rely on word of mouth, existing connections in the industry and having a strong online presence (like on Twitter, for example).
I try not to dwell on the “difficult things” — I think a positive mental attitude is the best way of moving forward. Definitely a mind-over-matter thing.
Everyone will have a different path through their careers and their life. Maybe there is something to take away from my experiences detailed above, and maybe not. I think the best thing I could say would be: follow what you want to do and make damn sure you make it happen.
There are a ton of people who inspire me. From the tech start-up world like Kevin Rose, Jack Doresy to inspiring thinkers/designers like Frank Chimero to straight-up designers like Daniel Burka plus the people I work closely with. These people inspire me because they are successful, create brands and innovate.”
Thank you James, and thanks to those reading!