Written by Annie McCulloch, Portfolio Recruitment
Now and Then is a series where we catch up with designers who’ve been recently placed, via Portfolio Recruitment. We get their thoughts and feedback about their new roles and their work. Our latest Now and Then is with Michael Cannon, a Digital Designer at Gladeye.
Thanks for being involved, Michael. We were pretty stoked to get you the role at Gladeye. You had recently moved home after living and working in Germany for a few years. It all fell into place. How does working in European creative studios compare to New Zealand? Are there any outstanding differences, besides the language of course?
The scale is perhaps quite different, I was living and working in Hamburg which is a city famous for its massive global port but also for its big media, design and publishing companies, so there is a lot of international folk flowing through.
I worked for quite a large branding agency called Peter Schmidt Group which had over 200 designers, there was a lot of people from all over Europe working there which added a really awesome culture and vibe to the workplace. I can definitely say the company had this stereotypical German design aura, ie the studio aesthetic, everything was black and white and super functional we weren’t allowed to have posters around our desks in order to optimise our creative flow, it kind made me laugh sometimes.
Living and working overseas gave you an amazing opportunity to develop as a designer. What advice can you impart to junior and intermediate designers who are thinking about heading overseas for experience?
Like in any case when looking for work, a good portfolio is key, I spent a while beforehand getting that in order, and considering what my angle is, what makes me desirable versus a local designer. I guess I played on the antipodean aspect a bit.
I also did a lot of research and looked for studios that have websites in English, that sort of indicates that they are happy to work in English too, particularly with studios that have international clients like where I worked. We had French, Spanish, Irish, Australians, even Guatemalans, English is obviously the bridge language so it puts people who speak native English in a good position.
How have you been able to apply your experience to your role at Gladeye?
It’s helped me become a much more efficient designer and see the big picture better rather than focusing on the minuscule details. I was really fortunate to be exposed to a lot of diverse projects for some big clients and work. I had to often work long hours working at maximum creative output but I worked alongside some really talented designers so naturally, they were role models for me that taught me a lot.
Gladeye are a pretty rad bunch. So far, how has the position challenged you as a designer?
Indeed they are, I was super stoked to get the opportunity to work there. I think it has been a solid test to see how I have developed outside of my previous position, I was nervous at the start because you get comfortable with certain processes and working a particular way. It’s always interesting to change things up and see how other places do things. I feel grateful that the transition was so easy, especially in terms of our sense of humour, rad music taste and most importantly design ethos.
Was Digital Design a conscious decision or something that evolved naturally through the work you took up?
I guess it was just something that naturally happened. When I moved to Germany I wasn’t actively looking for just digital design jobs. I like the idea of not limiting myself to one particular discipline, I can appreciate a beautiful cookbook just as much as I can a dynamic website or some slick branding. I was pretty fortunate to land a job as an interactive brand designer which I think is exciting in the way that it takes the natural principles of branding but allows you to utilise all of the evolving tech in the digital sphere and take things to another level.
Who are your creative heroes?
I could list a lot! I am a big fan of the classic corporate designers such as Paul Rand or Otl Aicher. For digital, studios like We are Collins, Instrument and Hey Days (Norway). I also love a lot of illustrators, Jean Jullien, Olympia Zignoli, and Nadine Redlich to name a few.
If not a digital designer what other career paths might you have taken?
Music for sure, in my past life I played guitar in a band and toured quite a bit, I still miss that, but I still get my fix making electronic music at home. I also like the idea of one day opening up an ice cream shop if design falls through.