Four things Dan Robinson Miller thinks you need in a career of creativity.
Meet Dan Robinson Miller. Head of Creative for a marketing agency and Director of Losttime Ltd in Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom. As the man behind the creation of our new brand, Dan primarily works on all the marketing company’s new business and conceptual work while providing creations through his business for start-ups, artists, musicians, and creators. As he reflects on where he started to his position in the field of graphic design he challenges those who are thinking about entering this field to consider four things to achieve some sort of success: passion, education, relationships, and creativity.
Here’s what Dan had to share:
1. What led you to your current profession/line of work?
I have always enjoyed drawing and art, and have seemed to have a talent for it. When I did my GCSE's (not sure what the US equivalent would be) I had a bit of a falling out with my school and the art department, so when I moved on to A Levels I studied History, Geography, and Politics, I did pretty well, but had no idea what to do next, the school was pushing me to do a Degree in a similar field but it didn't feel like the right fit, so I decided to go and do Foundation Course in Arts and Design. From there I just continued, I got a place at the University West of England and did a Degree in Graphic Design.
2. What did it take to get where you're currently?
a. How many years of education did it take?
I did a BTEC Foundation in Arts and Design for a year and then did a BA Degree in Graphic Design for 3 years. (However I work with very talented designers that are self-taught - so education helps build your portfolio and get a foot in the door, but for the creative world, I would not say it is necessary - I am in a position to employ people and if their work and attitude is good I would not count that against them.
b. Did you depend on your professional network?
My first job was actually due to a professional connection of my father's, but my current role was due to keeping up connections with people I had worked with previously. It is very important to keep relationships current and making those relationships work for you.
3. What do you think are the best skills to have? Soft and Hard skills?
Well in my field I think the main skills really are communication, there is, of course, the knowledge of all the software you need to have, but basically, it is an ideal role, and if you can not communicate those ideas to the further team or client then it is not working. I personally feel there are much too much importance and emphasis put on software knowledge, anyone can learn how to use software but it is a tool. I could hammer away at a block of marble but I couldn't create what I wanted... the same thing with software.
4. How does it feel to be the mastermind behind Be the Change Venture's look? Our brand? Explain the creative process of designing the final product.
It feels great, I was really honored to be asked, I think what you guys are working towards is really important. The idea behind the identity really stemmed from the 'B' in Be the change and the idea of connection and networking. I draw out quite a few options, but just kept coming back to the final idea, and sometimes that is enough of a hint that there is a good idea there.
5. Talk about your biggest failure. What did you learn from that experience?
Oh, there are too many to write here. I used to have a bad habit of getting frustrated with clients (more on my personal work) where they wouldn't choose the route I wanted or disagreed with me, and I have told a couple that I would stop working with them, cutting off my nose to spite my face kind of thing really. If I had stopped for a second to breathe and remember that in the end of the day I am a service provider we could have worked it out, I lost those relationships and the projects.
As an old Director of mine said 'If you want to draw what you want be an artist, as a designer you designer what the client is paying for' a little harsh, as you need to put forward your opinions but in the end of the day 'he who pays is King' - that is why it is always good to try and have side project or something, where you can do what you want and be as creative as you wish, as there are always constraints working professionally.
6. Why should young people seek the profession you're in? Why should they be interested in your type of work?
Because it can be very fulfilling, also if you are a creative person, it is an amazing job to get paid to create. I could probably earn more money doing a Sales role or something corporate, but I would always feel something is missing. I think if you are a 'Creative' it is in your DNA it is not something you can get away from.
7. What can young people start doing now to launch a successful career like yours?
Keep practicing and learning. Use the software if you can get hold of it, but if not just keep the ideas flowing, scamp out (draw) your ideas, if you see an advert that could be done better draw how you would do it, if there is a brand you love, create something for them, what would you do for them. Also, contact agencies see if you can get an internship or work experience. Art Directors want to see new ideas, something that excited them. Also, practice talking and discussing your work.
8. How big of a role has your individual network played a part of your life?
A lot of my personal work has come from relationships and connections. Also, social media can be very important and a good way to extend your network in the creative fields. I guess I have never really sat down and thought I need to build a network, but as your network grows organically it needs tending and nurturing (which reminds me I need to do a few New Year emails).