Wednesday, 14 March 2012

The Times by Jon Hill

The Times Talk
Jon Hill
Lecture Theatre B 1:30pm
On Tuesday (13th of March 2012), Jon Hill came into college to present a talk on his career and how he has progressed from university life, living above a grotty shop in Kingston to being a senior editor at the Times newspaper, London.
Considering that the Times is commonly associated with middle class gents milling around the higher ends of London dressed in swarve suits with mortgages galore, Jon Hill is a rather informal looking guy with a very down to earth approach and attitude. He talked about his time at Kingston university, living in said grotty flat above an equally grotty shop and how during his second year of his degree he was made to go on work placement within the industry for two weeks. He worked for Atelier with whom he thought he was merely making tea and listening to the live briefs, only when he left they asked him to go back in to help out during the university breaks etc. From there he even managed to secure his first job as junior designer with the very same design studio. After roughly 18 months his senior editor put him in touch with another company (by writing the details on a post-it whilst he was still with the old office!) who were looking for a senior designer. Esterson Associates are another design firm working in the cool area of Hoxton, at the time of his move up and coming artists such as Damien Hirst were working in the same vicinity making it even more appealing. Jon stayed here for six years working with some very big clients on some very big and very interesting jobs. He obviously made a lot of contacts during this time and this proved useful for his next move. After six year though, he became irritable, not because of the lack of passion for the job but because everywhere he looked were these uber cool designs and graphics, even on leaflets and flyers and beer mats in the local pub. In the end his mounting claustrophobia and yearn to start a family took him up to Wilmslow from where his wife originates. Here he became self-employed and exploited all the contacts he had made on the start of his career at both Atelier and Esterson Associates. He worked here for a couple of years in the attic of his house, listening to whatever music he chose, for the majority of the time as loud as he pleased too labouring intensely over his work. To go from this to being asked to fill the position as senior editor at the Times sounds like a harsh jump. He went from sitting in his pyjamas all day every day to the swanky quarter of London where all the big cheeses hand out.
Jon did make it clear that his first few jobs weren’t very well paid, though he enjoyed the work immensely, thus proving that money isn’t always the key to success, or at least not at the very beginnings. Being happy in my job is what will be most important to me and not necessarily the money side of matters, though a nice remuneration packages would be handy too. His talk also shows how opportunities can sometimes raise their heads at the most unexpected times, usually in the biggest and most surprising and exciting way possible. Most of all, his message was clear in that doing work for nothing, or on very small scales to start working to live briefs is crucial. Sitting at home and dwelling on the fact that you have no work and have just left university is not productive or stimulating for young creatives. Of course he understands that in part he fell lucky with his first job at Atelier landing in his lap, but it wasn’t without work beforehand, volunteering to go in during the holidays and most of the time not getting paid, or getting paid very little for what work he did do whilst he was there. Again, he managed to build up contacts with creative professionals whilst doing this. I guess my time spent at the Chase last summer and the portfolio visit I’ve been on since with Lise Brian is similar in that I am starting to build up a contact list with professionals out there in the big wide world already practising and potentially looking to commission illustrators at any time.
In hindsight, this talk was probably more aimed at a graphic design type audience, but all experience is good experience in the industry in which I hope to eventually excel. He talked about tools which are alien to me, such as grids and guides, margins and … typography. However, in deciding to strike whilst the iron was still hot, I asked him if he would be available to look at our portfolios next week when we are in London, knowing that the worst he could say would be no I was still pleasantly surprised when he agreed to do so. So, another lesson, even if the information is not totally relevant to your specialism, there’s a contact to be made who could potentially put you in touch with the ideal person. Nice one Jon, thanks!

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