Monday, 5 April 2010

The Great Escape....NEW SERIES

This is the first in a series featuring people who have made a career change to something bolder, more interesting and less mainstream.

If you want to be part of this series, please contact me ( and I'd be delighted to feature your work.

Name: Simon Rollett*

Hi Simon, what do you do?
I'm a self-employed designer – websites but also logos, brochures, artwork and
a more recently an online clothing business too.

Have you always done this job?
No – after school I trained as an architect but there was no money in it – then: a clerical role
with a local insurer, then editor of a construction data journal and my last employed position was Creative Director of a local I.T. Company of some 200 people.

Why did you change?
After 5 years as Creative Director, the role felt claustrophobic – there was so much I wanted to design outside the requirements of my job - I needed to at least try the freedom of self-employment.

How did you first get into the job?
While still Editor of the Construction Journal, a friend told me about a recruitment evening (at the I.T. Firm). I'm lucky enough to have a flair for art, but I had never been employed to use it apart from a few private commissions for friends. So I hastily put together a portfolio of 'made up' album covers and logos etc and attended the recruitment evening. I secured an interview and managed to present my made-up portfolio to the M.D. I was lucky; he liked my work despite my lack of commercially applied skill and I secured the role. This was where I gained a good deal of the experience necessary to support me today.

What about this job are you particularly good at?
I like to think it's interpreting the brief: assessing my clients' goals and services
to create a logo/brand/brochure which conveys the credibility of their business.
I believe that company media has the massive responsibility of conveying that
company's credibility to its audience – so it should never be taken lightly.

What are you passionate about?
Whatever I'm talking about!

Do you ever lose track of time when doing your job? When?
Yes – all the time - half the time I don't even know what day it is. I'm often so involved in a project that when I look at the clock it's midnight or later and I didn't even know...

What sort of personality would you say you have? How does this fit your job?
I'm a creative-impatient-independent-dreamer-perfectionist. (although I have been called a lot worse) The first three qualities were instrumental in taking the leap of faith and working for myself – the latter two are a constant process of distilling my ideas (which potentially spawn even more ideas) into appropriate elements for design, and then trying to compromise my perfectionism within a realistic boundary: every bit of work I do I would have liked to have tried more variations of – but when it looks right it IS right.

What’s the most important thing to you about your job?
Being in control of what I like to do.

What are your plans for the future?
To grow my clothing business interest into a household name – not for the sake of being a household name, but rather because that will be recognition of success in my endeavour.

How would you like to be remembered?
With a smile.

Tell us a secret about your job?
Paying more than £35 a YEAR for hosting a small website is a rip-off.

What career advice would you give to yourself if you were just starting out?
[!!] “Being good at what you do is MASSIVELY, UTTERLY and COMPLETELY different to
doing it as a business – it doesn't matter how good you are if no-one knows you are there.” Then I would slap myself in the face and tell it AGAIN repeatedly until I was confident I believed it.

Imagine you’re 80 years old, looking back on today. What advice would you give yourself for the rest of your career?
[1]Plan: Even a lame biro list on a beer mat is better than no plan at all. Why plan? Planning saves wasted action. [2]Like Nike says: Just do it. [3] Keep going. [4] Stop wasting time moaning about how much time I don't have (O the irony).

Do you have a message for our readers who may be thinking about career change?
If you're passionate about it: you could (should) do it for a living. For me, to not even try to achieve what I wanted for myself was doing myself a huge disservice.

Simon - thank you and good luck!

* Simon designs Bloom's newsletters.

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