Get inside the head of one of our designers.

Leanne Watkinson, a member of the design team at Thompson Brand Partners, has kindly taken some time away from her mac and sketchpad to answer some questions on her route into branding and what she loves about the industry. Leanne has worked at Thompson since January 2014 and is a key part of our team. Have a read for some of her insights into design and creative thinking. Take note, this lady knows what she’s on about…she’s got a D&AD award.
  • Why have you pursued a career in branding?

    Branding covers a whole range of things: print, web, packaging, interiors, wayfinding, uniforms, behaviour…I like the fact that you get to consider all of these different elements and create all aspects of design.

    What was your route to becoming a designer?

    I took the scenic route! I’d always drawn and painted for fun, but never considered it as a career. I went to a professional dance training college for my first degree, but unfortunately an injury meant I couldn’t pursue a career in dance. When I found myself working an uncreative job in London I started going to some evening and weekend courses in art and design. I decided this was what I wanted to do, so started pulling a portfolio together and applied to go back into full-time study. Luckily, I was accepted onto a degree course and landed some internships straight out of uni, one of which turned into a permanent job here at Thompson Brand Partners!

    Are the best briefs brief, or is it easier to work under longer and tighter constraints and guidelines?

    For me, this varies depending on what the project is. However, generally a more structured brief means the client has a better idea of what they do or don’t want which is important in guiding the overall process. As long as the brief isn’t prescriptive, it can be really good to have some boundaries to push against.

    Best thing about your job?

    Split equally between getting to be creative, have ideas and design every day, and the wonderful people I work with.

    What is the most challenging aspect of working on the artwork for a brief?

    Again, this can vary. Sometimes it’s getting the initial ideas for a brief – other times, it’s deciphering what a client actually wants (which isn’t always what they think/say they want) or refining an idea in a way the client is happy with whilst still maintaining the integrity of your designs and ideas.

    What advice do you wish you could give yourself when you were starting out in the industry?

    To not be so worried about putting my work in front of people! The idea of this was terrifying at first, but I was lucky to get good responses (and a D&AD Award!) once I started doing this, which is how I managed to get my foot in the industry door. Design is made to be seen, and putting your work in front of other designers can only help to improve it.

  • Favourite account you’ve worked on?

    Keelham Farm Shop. Great client, willing to let us progress the brand and realise some sometimes wacky ideas, and a job that encompassed so many facets of design (packaging, interior, marketing, uniforms…). We also won a DBA award, which was the cherry on top!

  • Is creativity something you either have or don’t?

    I think people can be creative in different ways, so I think it’s something everyone has. It doesn’t have to be in an artistic sense – problem solving in any way takes a level of creative thinking, and I think that’s in our nature as human beings.

    What do you do if you’re stuck for ideas?

    Get stressed and go and make a cup of tea! It helps to talk it through with others in the studio and get someone to bounce off; they might just give you a spark to kick start a great idea. And if all else fails, I take myself off for a little walk to calm down and take my mind off it.

  • What is the first thing that comes into your head when you think of these words? :

    Unicorn: Magic
    Secret: Garden Party
    Cake: Yum
    Work: Hard

  • If you weren’t a designer what would you be doing?

    In my head I’d be a beach bum, travelling the world and working odd jobs. In reality, I have no idea – failure wasn’t an option when I decided to take myself back to uni, so there was no plan B!

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