Phil Skinner, Middleweight designer, Purpose
’I love the buzz you get when you create something unexpected – those eureka moments,’ says Phil Skinner, a middleweight designer at Purpose who graduated from University College Falmouth in 2008 with first-class honours. He describes himself as an ’ideas-led designer’ who takes a cognitive, rather than style-led, approach.
’At university you had to be quite dogmatic, but in your career flexibility matters, because one approach is not necessarily right,’ he says.
Skinner’s thoughtful approach has earned him a string of awards. As a student he was named overall winner of the Future Talent Awards in 2007, the following year receiving a commended from D&AD. This year, he was awarded a merit from the Art Directors Club and won a New York Festivals Gold award.
For Purpose, Skinner is currently working on some Royal Mail stamps, which he calls ’a dream job’.
However, Skinner would like the design industry to be ’better understood’.
’Schoolkids aren’t brought up to understand what design is about and this lack of understanding runs through society as a whole,’ he says. ’It would be great if that could be resolved across all the disciplines.’
In the future, he aims to head up his own branding and interaction design group, possibly with his brother Paul, a creative technologist at Wieden & Kennedy. But he’s not in a hurry.
’There’s a journey of understanding of the design industry to make before I do that,’ he says.
2008 University College Falmouth BA Graphic Design
2008 Purpose Designer
2010 New York Festivals Gold award
Jon Unwin _Programme leader BA Graphic Design _University College Falmouth
’Phil Skinner grasped the need to have a “big idea” in his work at an early stage of the course. His enthusiasm and drive to succeed brought its rewards in his final year, with success at Future
Talent and D&AD student award schemes. He is a quiet, unassuming character, a good listener, with a well-tuned radar searching for the creative click. It has been a pleasure to see his career flourish with Purpose.’
Neil Cummings, Design director, Wolff Olins
Neil Cummings graduated four years ago and joined Wolff Olins, where he is now a design director working on big branding projects for blue-chip companies including PWC and AOL.
Cummings is keen to point out that while he has ’played key roles’ in projects such as PWC’s recent rebrand, ’I can by no means take sole credit for them as you work with so many people on a job like that.’ What motivates him, then, is not personal glory or instant gratification – ’We have been working on the PWC job for more than two years’ – but rather ’strategic development’, he says.
’I enjoy the scale of the projects and the fact that you are working with lots of people, be that internally or with brilliant experts in fields like digital, moving image and sound,’ he adds.
Cummings’ bird’s-eye approach, so suited to branding, embraces non-visual disciplines.
’I would like to see a space for more discussion on design that goes beyond visuals or look and feel and that actually takes into account what a brand or a design has done for a business,’ he says. ’It’s about looking at the bigger picture. I don’t think it does anyone any favours to talk about their gut reaction to a logo.’
Cummings says he intends to continue to ’develop new and unexpected brands for big companies’, and is excited by what he sees as the dawning of a new age for branding.
’We are on the cusp of a much more multi-disciplined approach and I would like to get more linked in with the digital world and see those two areas come closer together to create brand experiences,’ he says.
2006 Kingston University BA Graphic Design
2006 Johnson Banks and Browns
Job placements 2006 Wolff Olins Designer
Michael Johnson, Johnson Banks, External examiner, Kingston University, 2005-10
’I first met Neil Cummings several years ago at college, where his unusual and thought-provoking ideas stood out from the rest of his classmates. He worked with us for a while and demonstrated levels of strategic thinking that are rare in a graduate – it was no surprise when he landed a job at Wolff Olins. I can only hope that one day I can lure him back.’
Andy Cooke, Junior designer, Erasmus
Creating the band list for a music event is not a typical job for a junior designer, but such is one of Andy Cooke’s responsibilities at advertising agency Erasmus.
The festival makes up one part of a $1.5m (£952 000) event promoting the Coca-Cola-owned Relentless energy drink, which Erasmus branded and helped to create. Relentless continues to provide a healthy chunk of the consultancy’s work.
’I’m working on everything to do with the event, from planning stage times and bands to designing stage sets, which is great,’ says Cooke. ’I’ve been given a lot of trust and responsibility and respect here, and am not being treated as a junior.’
Cooke graduated this year, having landed the job at Erasmus before leaving Staffordshire University, where he achieved a BA in graphic design.
Both competitive and humble about his design prowess, Cooke says, ’I want people to look at my work and say “I wish I did that” – I’m still very envious of a lot of other people’s work, which motivates me to get better than my peers. This will probably never happen, but I try.’
Hailing from the North, Cooke is passionate about eventually moving back there and would like to run ’a little tight-knit studio’ in Manchester in a few years’ time.
’I like London, but it’s not the be all and end all. It’s not about where you work, it’s all about the quality of your work,’ he says.
2010 Staffordshire University BA Graphic Design
2010 Erasmus Junior designer
Jonny Burch, Founder and director , Shellsuit Zombie
’Andy Cooke is not only an enviable talent in the world of branding and pixel-perfect type, currently working at Erasmus, but he’s also a serial entrepreneur, a brilliant graffiti artist and a thoroughly nice guy. All this and yet he only graduated a year ago. Sometimes I look at his work and start softly weeping big conflicting tears of envy and happiness. True fact.’