Who influenced you most to pursue and stick with a career in design?

Industrial designer Tom Karen says that he persuaded a young Jony Ive not to quit his design course. Who influenced you to stick with design?

Jack Renwick

‘No one is responsible for encouraging me, as without getting my violin out, I was very discouraged to study design. Coming from a typical Glaswegian working-class background, studying “arty-farty rubbish” was quite frowned upon and I was considered a weirdo. I do owe my career to a guy I worked in a sports shop with who was at art school studying graphics and I was in complete awe of. He made me realise that coming from the background we both did that it was possible for people like us to attempt this ridiculous pursuit and he gave me the help and the courage to go for it. Ed Sullivan – cheers.’

Jack Renwick, founder, Jack Renwick studio

Rodney Fitch

‘No one influenced me, cajoled or frogmarched me into my career in design – it was what I wanted to do from the outset. But once in it, I was and continue to be inspired by the titans, in particular William Morris. Designer, maker, writer, poet, thinker, he was to my mind the embodiment of the complete creative activist. His death certificate gave as cause, “worked out” .On behalf of the purpose for design and designing, what better epitaph?!’

Professor Rodney Fitch, retail design consultant

James Hilton

‘I owe everything to one Mr Adam Spurgeon, the then manager of Russell & Bromley in Southampton where I was employed as a Saturday boy. His words still echo in my mind. “You’re completely shit at selling shoes to ladies, but you’re rather good at designing things, so I’d stick to that if I were you. And stop making comedy penises out of the pop-socks.” Thank you Mr Spurgeon. Thank you.’

James Hilton, chief creative officer, AKQA

Simon Waterfall.

‘Both my grandfathers were engineers and they influenced me to take the “create” path. With their war-generation work ethic there was never a question of NOT finishing something you start, be that repairing the toaster or finishing breakfast.’

Simon Waterfall, vice president and creative director, OnCue

Jamie Ellul

‘Once I’d started my degree I never really had a moment where I thought I didn’t want to pursue a career in design. But I definitely walked into Somerset College of Arts & Tech with no clue what graphic design was and what it could achieve (I thought it was pretty album covers). The person who showed me the light was a two-headed figure – an inseparable double act under the guise “Widge ‘n’ Malc”. Widge Hunt and Malcom Swatridge taught me about problem-solving, they taught me how to think and use words and pictures to communicate ideas that could engage an audience. And most of all they made graphic design fun and exciting, reminding us that design is a creative career path where you never stop learning new things.’ 

Jamie Ellul, creative director, Supple Studio, chairman of the West of England Design Forum

Stuart Radford

‘A number of people have spurred my career on over the years but there are two individuals who were fundamentally influential. It goes to back to a time before I even knew what design was: I was 15 years old and totally uninspired by school. After displaying a talent for drawing (you’d never know it now) I was sent on work experience to a small design agency in Cambridge. Here I met two designers who generously gave their time, introduced me to design and set me my own briefs. Thanks to Jim and Wayne and those two weeks, I have had 25 years of doing the stuff I love.’

Stuart Radford, creative director, The Partners

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  • C G November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I want to have plastic hair like Stuart, Sideburns like Jamie and to change my surname to Waterfall!

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