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A glimpse of a real life graphic design studio

Square One Creative is a Derby based multi-disciplined graphic design studio.

Maggie Lucas whom I spoke to is the Sales and Marketing Director, and she agreed to answer a few questions. And was kind enough to supply an image to use as well! These are her personal views and not the ones of Square One Creative:


01: Tell me about the inception of Square One Creative. Who is Maggie Lucas and why did you decide to start your own agency instead of working for someone else?

Have worked in the graphic design industry for over 25 years, I did see the good and bad of different design agencies and felt we could do it so much better.
02: What are some important character traits in a graphic designer? Being a graphic designer is about many other things than designing stuff. What other qualities are important?

Attention to detail is very important, being constantly appraising/ critiquing your own work – I have found that it helps if you are a good communicator, you have to have a good degree of patience. If you are thinking of starting your own business in graphic design you have to be good at networking/finances/be very organised etc, this is why a lot of freelance graphic designers struggle getting new clients as they do not have the skill set to get new business.
03: There seems to be many design businesses in the area, so there is plenty of competition around. What is it about Derby that makes it a good location for this type of business?

The tables have really turned in Derby/Nottingham. A few years ago Nottingham was seen as where the creative design agencies were but because of Derby Uni, a lot of talent has studied at Derby, set up home here and in deed their business. 
04: Speaking of businesses, how important is it to be a good business person for a designer?

If you are a graphic designer working in an agency or in a corporate position it doesn’t really matter if you have a business mind BUT if you are working as a freelancer or in your own company it is essential.
05: As for me, being a new kid on the block – what’s the best way to find clients? 
I have in the past tried networking groups and done the whole breakfast networking routine without any success. Would you recommend joining Chamber of Commerce, or any other local organisations or groups?

I have mentioned this above, this is the hardest part of the whole design industry and I think if I had the solution I would be a very rich lady. It is down to hard graft networking – I have been doing it for 25 plus years, and have found it is all about building your reputation, producing good, reliable, consistent cost effective work. Making good contacts, finding the right network that works for you, probably finding a niche that you like designing for ie a particular business sector, get some experience in that sector and then sell yourself as a specialist in that field. Things have changed, you must have a good website, you must use all the different platforms out there, twitter, linked in etc to build your brand.
06: What do you know now that you wished you had known when you started out in this industry?

If I had realised how competitive and hard this industry was I would have thought twice about setting up my own business, it is very hard work but equally rewarding. Prices are constantly being driven down by sites like fiverr, also some people think that is design and creativity is not something tangible it should be free!!
07: I have to mention the B-word at some point. What’re your thoughts on Brexit? Not so much if you are for or against it – I’m more interested in your thoughts on how the design industry is going to be affected by Brexit – perhaps you’ve seen some changes already?

I think Brexit through a lot of businesses into panic. We don’t work with any European Companies so I do not feel it will affect us BUT I do know designers that have struggled as some businesses based in UK that were Euro businesses have decided to move now so those designers have lost that work.
08: Do you still use Adobe CC, or are you looking to switch to other applications, after their decision to switch to a subscription model? My impression is that this new model benefits big agencies and I’ve heard and read that many individuals and smaller agencies are now looking elsewhere for creative software.

Have not heard about professional designers looking at alternatives. Adobe Creative Suite is available at reduced cost to students and is the industry standard, we have been using the Creative Suite on subscription for several years and find it easier that having to pay huge chunks to upgrade to latest version.

09: Anything else you’d like to tell me that might be important for me as a graphic designer?

I think I have mentioned above but find a sector that you enjoy working in and specialise in that, find where these type of businesses hang out, network with them there, write articles and try and get them published on platforms they read/frequent.
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. It is much appreciated!


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