“Now most students want to go into branding. It’s become cool” – Stuart Watson

Stuart Watson, former creative director at Moving Brands and Venture Three, is joining DesignStudio as executive creative director. We talk to him about client envy and how branding got cool.


When did you realise you wanted to be a designer?

The only lesson I enjoyed at school was art so I knew from a very early age that I wanted to follow that direction. I didn’t really know what design was until I went to art college at 16 to study graphics. I knew on the first day that that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

What was your first job?

First job was a milk round. First design job was at Wolff Olins. I was picked from the New Designers Degree Show. I think I was only the second person at the agency to be employed straight from college.

How would you describe what you currently do?

I’m ECD at DesignStudio so my job is to inspire and drive the team to create exciting work. What that means in reality is that I’m a therapist, sales man, motivator, problem solver, copy writer, HR, nuisance, and sometimes I get to design stuff.

What has been the biggest change in design since you started?

When I started branding was called corporate identity and it was dull. Now most students want to go into branding, it’s become cool.

What is your favourite project, that you’ve worked on?

I would have to say Oi Brazil at Wolff Olins. I was 21 years old and sent to live in Rio for a year to deliver it. I met my wife Marina Willer there and that changed my life.

What is your favourite project, that you haven’t worked on?

Airbnb. And I’m not just saying that. I had massive client envy when it launched.

What was your biggest mistake?

I only regret the things I didn’t do.

What is your greatest ambition?

To be happy. To champion the next generation of designers and to make enough money to retire before I’m irrelevant.

Who is the most inspirational person you have worked with?

My wife, Marina. She changed the way I think about branding with the work she did for Tate. Making a brand live and breath, not just sit in the bottom right hand corner seems quite common now but it was revolutionary at the time.

What piece of advice would you give to people starting out in design?

Be active. Go to talks, read design blogs, research agencies and find the people whose work you like. All designers love to be told how great they are so use flattery to get an interview and make sure you have a point of view on their work and on the agency. One question you are guaranteed to be asked is ‘why do you want to work here?’

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  • Rob Spalding April 20, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    Says it all really! Good article.

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