Kieron Lewis is a graphic designer and creative who since last being featured by YOUNG GOLD TEETH has been up to an awful lot. From working on Plog: The Paper Log for Art and Design while at university to creating The Profile Book, an online artist-led platform turned wonderful new publication, Kieron has worked on a series of exciting new initiatives. We caught up with him to talk new projects, inspirations and to hear his thoughts on applying his personal passions within the creative industries.
What led you to study graphic design?
When I first started uni I was doing Game Design. I love my games and am a massive gamer. I went to Solent University for a year and was doing life drawing and animation too. That was cool but I realised I had a passion for graphic design and that was what I wanted to do. It took me a year of uni to realise that so I dropped gaming and got into Graphic Design. I then met Son, who did Plog with me and the environment was great. We all had similar interests and it was quite scary how alike we were. If we were to go into a restaurant, before we ordered anything we’d were looking at the menu’s paper-style and design. It sounds really sad but we had the same mind-set and knew that if we wanted to create something together, like Plog, we could.
Do you think being around other creatives affects your process?
I think so and I think also, not everyone appreciates design as much as you or I for example. You have people who like design and people who are really passionate. My brother and sister like design, they think it’s cool but they’re not crazy about it. I think it’s good to surround yourself with people who don’t take it to that extra level because anything you do, with design or advertising, you’re trying to appeal, not just to designers, but to the world.
Tell us about Plog; how did it influence your latest project The Profile Book?
Plog started in the first year of uni although I didn’t become involved properly until second year because I didn’t really know what it was about. I then realised it was something I really wanted to become involved with. When I joined the project it was just myself and Son and then two other guys, Ben and Adam jumped on board. Adam works for Estee Lauder as a designer and Ben went to uni in Leicester studying graphic design so there were only four of us at the time. We started off by having a stall at our university.
We had no funding so the first issue, although it was good and the heart was there, wasn’t great in terms of print quality because we didn’t know much about what we were doing and were basically fresh out of college. The lecturers were quite cool in terms of helping us out and giving us advice and we then got funding from the uni for our next issue. As Plog progressed we started to receive more and more funding, from other universities. We then thought, why not extend Plog to other universities in the UK? Then after that we thought, why not other stores?
I remember one day, Son told me we had had a contact from Selfridges, they were one of the biggest to get in touch. This couldn’t have been made possible without Plog’s content and hopefully, that speaks for itself. We wanted people to be aware that there was a lot to it. Okay, we designed it and ran it but without the people submitting work, we’d have nothing to go by. We had loads of people helping us out, and it was without a doubt, a group effort.
Read an exclusive interview with Kieron about The Profile Book here.
By issue five it was our final year at uni and we knew that we had to concentrate on our FMPs. Not to mention we were all splitting up and going our separate ways. Adam went to Estee Lauder and travelled for a bit. Ben went to Paris – so there goes us meeting up in London every week.
When it came to sitting down together the discuss ideas we were all on the same wavelength, we knew what we wanted to do but we knew we had to knuckle down with uni also. We learnt a lot and I think we thought we could stop the project and three years from now we could come back and do something different but along the same lines as Plog. Profile is my new baby and i’m using what I learnt from Plog to create something different.
Where do you see yourself in the coming years?
Well I do work for Advertising Week at the moment. They’re based in Michigan and New York and it’s quite nice because anything I do that’s design related gets broadcast to America. My family’s from America and I plan to move over there. I think in terms of profession, I love editorial design. I love books and print, although I do love digital too.
My ideal thing would be a profession where I get to meet people. It sounds cliched but I love meeting artists and designers and finding out what makes them tick and makes them do what they do. That’s really what The Profile Book is about. In my full-time job I don’t get to meet many creatives and Profile is something I do in my spare time. I do my day’s work and when I get home I can do what I really enjoy which is meeting new people and creatives.
How did you start working with Advertising Week?
The organisation advertised that they were looking for bloggers so I set up a Skype call with them. I mentioned Plog to them and the blogging that I had done as part of that. They had already been following Plog which was quite interesting so knew all about it. They then mentioned that as well as bloggers they were looking for someone to be the Europe Editor and it built up from there.
What are your greatest inspirations and influences as a designer?
Rather than individuals I tend to focus on agencies and the ethics behind what they do. I am really inspired by Innocent Smoothie. I had the chance to go to their headquarters a few weeks ago for a project. It’s a corporate business and they’re making millions but they don’t shove that in your face.
I follow sites like It’s Nice That and individuals like Rob Hudson. I aspire to what they do and how they started up. One guy in particular, Dave Bliss, is a creative director and freelancer. I went to a seminar of his a few weeks back on the idea of creativity in the industry and how people are affected by it. He has a very direct way of speaking and delivers what good design is really about. I’m trying to use that directness in my own line of work. I also love magazines and have tonnes.
I used to watch a lot of cartoons growing up and really loved Art Attack too. The arial views at the end were the best. Back in secondary school I used to have a Nokia phone with a camera and would take photographs of adverts on my way home. Before I started watching my cartoons after school I would draw the advert in a cartoon style. Thinking about it now, back then was probably my creative starting point.
Do you still find time to draw now?
Back in college I used to do a lot of drawing and screenprinting but now i’m very digitally focused. I’m a digital designer so everything I do is computer based. Now i’m in that mode I don’t draw as much as I used to which is a shame, but I do read more because of the commute to work.
Do you ever wish you’d chosen a different path?
I’d be lying if I said no. I wanted to be a footballer when I was a kid but more recently I wanted to be a journalist. I loved English literature and I was also prompted by my parent’s careers in the legal sector but knew I wanted to do something creative. If I had to choose something different it would be journalism. I love editorial design and that’s why I do a lot of blogging for Advertising Week.
What would you most like to achieve this year?
At the moment my job with Love Europe is going well and i’m enjoying it but my main goal right now is to push things forward with The Profile Book. It’s something i’m really dedicated to and so are all the other people involved. There’s never really a set point to where you want to take something, it’s more a case of how far it will let you go. We want to push it as much as possible. I also want to continue doing work for Advertising Week, something i’ve been doing for two years already.
What else have you been up to recently?
I did a competition a few months ago with IPA to win a placement with them. You had to submit a video about yourself and then attend an IPA event in Sloane Square and a one-to-one interview. It was very scary. I must have had a lucky four leaved clover because I got picked. Obviously i’m working with Love Europe after my internship with them so wasn’t able to take up the placement but am still being placed in the Class of 2013. We were featured on the front page of the Metro.
My aunt is my personal guru and gives me a lot of mentorship on my design work. She was the one who suggested I enter the competition. I wasn’t going to do it because I wouldn’t have time to go to the interviews and FMP time was still in full swing so I had to take all my work with me. I remember I had to drive to Birmingham to stay at a Premier Inn with my desktop mac in the boot of my car. It was a lot of effort but it paid off to an extent.
Do you think that internships are a good thing for creatives?
Yes, I think you need experience of the working world. University is a struggle and is difficult but when you find yourself an internship you are met with clients and demands and people saying to you ‘I need this by 12’. In uni that would be 12 two weeks from now but this is 12 the same day. In a way you’re struggling and stressing out but that’s a reality of life and you need to learn that from an early stage. When you eventually come out of uni you’ll know what to expect. You’re going to get stressed anyway but at least you can set yourself up. Not for a fall, but for that big jump.
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Words: Emily Beeson | @younggoldteeth