I guess I was always destined to be in the creative business. As a typical creative child I loved drawing, colouring and making things. I was never interested in books unless they had lots and lots of big beautiful pictures. I remember I always judged a good book by the quality of the pictures, not the story. Nowadays I like books with words too.
I was always drawing when I was very young but never thought I was any good at it. I didn’t take criticism well and when my pictures were judged by my Dad — he would draw lines over them telling me how they could be better — I decided I wasn’t any good at drawing and never held any ambitions in art. I stuck to colouring in pictures in those big old colouring books. But I was good at that, I always kept in the lines — almost obsessively!
I would write stories all the time. TV and Movies were a huge escape for me and I would often dream up adventures and think of films I would like to make. I made my first attempt at writing a screenplay when I was 12. My brother and sister told me that it was very much like a new film that had just come out about a disco dancer and starred a budding new heart throb actor called John Travolta. I honestly have no idea where the idea came from for the story because I was too young to see the film. My only guess is that Saturday Night Fever was such a talked about film that I picked up the thread of the story. Anyway, the family critics put me off again so I scrapped that story, probably just as well.
The movie theme continued in my dreams because after that I wanted to be an actor. Then when I was 15 I wrote a new screenplay with a friend of mine and between us we recruited friends to star in it, planned the scenes meticulously, found filming locations and planned everything down to the soundtrack and artwork for the movie poster. It’s funny how innocent the young are and believe anything is possible. At the time I felt the movie needed somebody famous to star in it. What star would ever consider being in a 15 year old’s movie? I wondered. The previous week I had been reading a music magazine that featured an interview with Spandau Ballet. My sister had posters of them plastered over her room and I remember reading that Tony Hadley said he wanted to go into acting. I suggested to my sister that I contact him and ask him to be in our film, after all, it would be good for his career right? Well, my sister gave me that look that only a teenage girl can give her little brother when he has said the most stupid thing she had ever heard. Sadly, our sci-fi film never got made and Tony Hadley never got to make his acting debut with us.
Then my life took a slight detour, The Falklands were invaded and my overwhelming patriotism compelled me to join the army. Well, I was only 15 therefore it had to be the Cadets, so that kept my Mum happy. It wasn’t too long before the Officers there recognised my potential — and it wasn’t in the army. They thought that due to my reluctance to take orders and thinking I knew best, it would be better if I left. So I did.
Sometime later I was watching the favourite British music programme of the time, Top of the Pops, when Simple Minds came on performing Promised You A Miracle. As I watched I thought to myself "I could do that". That became a defining point in my creative life and focused my attention for a long time to come. I started writing songs, recording, performing (rarely) and planning to take over the world with my music, videos and live shows. In the following six or seven years I wrote 160 songs, recorded five albums in my home studio (a type of karaoke machine in my flat) performed (as I said, rarely) had a band, went solo, did photo shoots, sent off demos, got rejected then entered an emotional dark tunnel and lost my way for a while.
I ended up writing another screenplay and actually filmed it with some friends this time. But it didn't go any further. Probably because I got distracted and married the leading lady. I went to work like a "normal" person doing some jobs I hated when by luck one day I was sitting at my desk and the lady from the ‘Desk Top Publishing’ Section mentioned she needed a new recruit. I asked if I could be considered for the role. After asking me what design experience I had — I had to tell her I had none at all — she was prepared to give me a two month trial and see how I got on. Four weeks later she said I could stay. I was so happy. Helene Dang gave me the opportunity that changed my course for the rest of my professional life.
I spent years creating everything from brochure layouts, posters, reports, displays, illustrations, retouching and anything else we could possibly do in our very small creative department of two. We liked to think there wasn't anything we couldn't do and surprisingly for two people with no budget there was very little.
From then until now I have worked on some great projects and with some great people. I've worked on entire projects on my own and as creative director on others with some very talented people. I find it hard when people ask me what I do because I will try anything. Graphic Designer being the thing I have been paid to do the most, but anything creative goes.
While working for BT I have also been an active volunteer for BT Volunteers —specifically in Education — where we go into schools once a year and provide mock-interviews for students. This provides Year 11 students the opportunity to prepare a CV and experience a professional interview. Often the first type of interview they have ever experienced.
They are then given detailed feedback on how they did and given some advice on how to better prepare and answer questions effectively. The response from the students is incredibly positive and they find it very useful because they will know what to expect when it comes to a real interview for a job or university.