Do you run any side projects alongside your job?
I feel lucky that I am also an illustrator where I go under the name of iAMi. I get to work on side projects when time allows, and often link up to the issues or subjects I am passionate about. I recently worked with a cabaret maker and performer on a project called Stay Home Stay Queer, which was a resource pack and online zine to help the wellbeing of the LGBTQIA+ community, who may be self-isolating in unaccepting homes during lockdown.
I have also run creative workshops with the inmates of Northumberland Prison creating flags for Pride, and I exhibited and sold work in an exhibition for Pride in London at We Built this City in Carnaby Street in London. I’m currently working on a large illustration as a paste-up for a local grass roots brewery, which is lots of fun.
Mandy and I were also extras in a Sesame Street-themed music video with a drag queen called Chorizo May recently – we had to dance and everything. I get roped into all kinds. I like saying yes to the unexpected sometimes, it gets you out of your comfort zone. Even if I did want to implode with embarrassment.
What do you enjoy most about working on the Sail Creative team?
What is particularly special is that there is this magic Sail glue that connects the three of us together – and that glue is our shared passion for progressive change. We all deeply care about the societal issues that affect the people around us both globally and in our communities.
We are all very aware of this privilege that we have, so our daily conversations are often centred around how we can use our skills to create change for good. Far too many organisations and agencies say that they do this, but often it’s a bandwagon. Within the Sail team, I can see and feel a real tangible desire for action. We are design activists, and this is something that goes beyond enjoyment; it feels essential to everything that we do and every decision that we make.
What skills do you use most for your work?
My skillset has expanded vastly since leaving university. It’s funny; I don’t think you truly learn how to be a graphic designer until you are working in industry. At university, you have the luxury of time to work on projects where you can really explore your creative freedom and find your own voice. But when you are in the industry working for clients with tighter deadlines, that’s when your skills really start to form, as you have to learn to work faster and smarter. So you quickly become more efficient with software and learn to work under pressure too.
My skills are in brand strategy and detective-style research, and brand analysis is something that I have learned through time and experience. Storytelling is also a skill I use in my job, whether that’s crafting a story from time spent with young people to share their experiences for a campaign, or connecting the dots to create a concept that is backed up with an emotive narrative. Or it can even be storytelling through illustration and messaging, it all feeds into my daily role.
What advice would you give to a young creative wanting to do the same kind of work?
Whatever it is that makes you tick, whatever you are passionate about and gets that fire in your belly burning, go after it. Put yourself out there and show people what you truly care about. Self-initiated projects are a good way to do this – they also help to expand your network. Don’t be afraid to be bloody minded about it. It can be a tough and competitive industry, but people love passion and drive and that can get you far. Also, find your tribe; find people who share your passion, because collective mindset is a powerful thing.