In the Studio With — Keep trying, keep testing yourself: Edit_ brand studio’s design director, Adrian Newell
For design director Adrian Newell, a healthy dose of experimentation is vital to landing on a fresh approach to projects. One of a team of five at Manchester-based brand studio Edit_, since joining in 2018, he’s helped oversee projects for reputable names such as the Barbican, the National Portrait Gallery and London Zoo. Here, he shares some of his personal projects, fills us in on the benefits of working in a small studio, and discusses why time management is such a vital skill for designers to grasp.
Design Director, Edit Brand Studio (2018–present)
Senior Designer, True North (2011–2017)
Designer, Future (2009–2011)
Designer, Traffic (2007–2008)
BA Graphic Design, University of Salford (2004–2007)
How would you describe your role?
I help oversee the design team and creative output of the studio alongside the creative director. In the studio, I help the wider team deliver the creative work within budget and deadlines, while encouraging them to push the creative, and produce the best results possible.
The creative director and I split projects between us to help manage workload. This means we remain involved in everything passing through the studio, from small social jobs to big brand projects.
As a small team, I still work on projects myself and work on the creative in the inception stage for presentations and development before overseeing the delivery.
“Each project brings a new approach and a different way of thinking.”
Work for the National Portrait Gallery
What do you enjoy most about working at Edit_?
We’re a small team, which means you get involved in most things passing through the studio; we all have a say in what’s going on.
I wouldn’t say we have a house style, each project brings a new approach and a different way of thinking. There is a great variety of work (no two projects are the same) and we always look to create something fresh whether you’re a new or existing client.
Inside the Edit_ studio in Manchester
What skills are essential to your role?
Project management is a vital skill. As a designer, this is something you should be able to do yourself; you shouldn’t have to rely on someone else to do it for you.
You also need to understand deadlines, know what elements are to be delivered at what times, and be able to respond or react if things suddenly crop up.
What tools do you use most for your work?
The usual tools: Adobe Creative Suite, Mac, phone, paper, pen.
Work for the Barbican
How I Got Here
If you completed a degree, has this been helpful to your work?
I wouldn’t necessarily say my role, or becoming a designer, needs a degree. But it is helpful. It gives you the chance to develop skills in an environment where people are talking about, and critiquing, work. It means you gain confidence in sharing your ideas in front of others.
“It’s beneficial to gain some real-world experience whilst still completing your course.”
It also teaches you how to collaborate and network within a safe environment. Most lecturers now have good links with the industry which provides students with great placement opportunities. It’s beneficial to gain some real-world experience whilst still completing your course. Like driving a car, you learn more about the industry when you’re in it.
A selection of Adrian’s F1-inspired posters
How did you land your current job?
I worked with [Edit_ founders] Karen and Khadija in my previous role, and after leaving to go freelance I was offered the chance to become a permanent part of the team.
Do you run any side projects alongside your job?
I run a project called Wordplay, which is an exploration in typography posted weekly on Instagram. It gives us a chance to experiment, have a little bit of fun and break from day-to-day client work. I also design football posters under the project name of Scoreline, and a series of F1 posters that are available on print-process.com.
Words of Wisdom
What advice would you give to a young creative wanting to do the same kind of work?
It’s a cliché, but keep learning. Keep trying, keep testing yourself, keep pushing ideas. Get involved, and find what you’re passionate about. But remember to have fun, enjoy what you’re doing and not to worry too much.
This interview is part of a series of articles profiling brand design studio Edit_. See the In the Studio With interview here.