Profile: Lynne Devine

Lynne Devine owes her award-winning success to a fairytale CV, attention to detail and a career plan that dates back 14 years. Fiona Nicholson talks to the Scottish designer driven by the adrenaline rush of the new

There was never any doubt about what Lynne Devine was going to do for a living. ‘I’ve loved drawing for as long as I can remember,’ she says.

One of Scotland’s newest creative talents, the award-winning 26-year-old started drawing when she was very young. It was never just going to be a childhood pastime, though. Devine’s focus was clear from an early age and it was no surprise to anyone that she went on to study at the Glasgow School of Art, as this had been her plan since the age of 12.

As a student she was drawn to graphics and became particularly interested in posters and typography. One of her main influences then was Swiss designer Josef Müller-Brockmann, who continues to inspire her work today.

Müller-Brockmann was renowned for appreciating order, having authored the grid system for graphic design, and there’s more than a little of his philosophy in Devine’s approach. ‘My colleagues are amused to see me making sure every line of my drawings is lined up correctly – they say that’s what the studio’s there for, but it’s just the way I like to work,’ she laughs.

Her attention to detail and accuracy helped Devine’s CV stand out when she was first looking for a job. Instead of simply listing grades and achievements, Devine’s CV told a story, in the form of a fairytale that began with ‘Once upon a time’. The paper had to be authentic too, to make it look like it was a page torn from a book. ‘I ended up buying lots of old books and tearing out the blank back pages to print on,’ she recalls.

It worked. Devine got a placement at London consultancy Smith & Milton. Her next position was at Glasgow’s Pointsize, before moving to Navyblue’s Edinburgh office 18 months ago. So, what’s the best thing about working for Navyblue? ‘They give me the support I need to concentrate on designing,’ says Devine. ‘I also enjoy having the chance to present my work to clients in person – I get a real buzz out of talking it through with them.’

One of the biggest projects Devine has worked on to date at Navyblue has been Glasgow’s bid for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Such was the size and scale of the project that Devine found herself living and breathing it for six months/ ‘It wasn’t just about getting the design right,’ she explains. ‘There were so many facts and figures that had to be presented as clearly as possible. We really wanted it all to jump out of the page.’

To achieve this, Devine’s technique was to use lots of white and to intertwine the traditional tartan theme with images of athletes in action, creating a dynamic and contemporary design. Her eye for detail added an extra something too. ‘I included a directory to make it as easy as possible for the people reading it to find the information they’d be looking for,’ she says.

Navyblue’s clients also include a number of artists, who exhibit at the Corn Exchange Gallery on the consultancy’s premises. ‘It puts a little bit more creative pressure on, generating a design concept for a client who’s an artist or photographer,’ says Devine. But her approach of focusing on a key detail has stood her in good stead, as demonstrated in promotional literature for screen-based artist Kris Emmerson. ‘I noticed that he didn’t hide the wires of the TV screens in his exhibition,’ she says, ‘so I replicated that by leaving the threads of the binding in the brochure exposed.’

With a number of varied and challenging projects to work on, how does Devine cope with creative block? ‘Thankfully, I haven’t had that experience yet,’ she says. ‘But I always get a rush of excitement when I start a new project, where the adrenaline kicks in and I panic and wonder what I’m going to do. That doesn’t last long, though.’

Devine won not one, but two major accolades at the Scottish Design Awards earlier this year – Emerging Designer of the Year and the top prize, Designer of the Year. ‘I couldn’t believe it’, she recalls. ‘And they played Primal Scream’s Country Girl while I was going up to collect my award. It’s one of my favourite songs, so that made my night complete.’

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