Kate Vasey Article By Kate

Meet The Team: Donna Wearmouth

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By now you will have become more acquainted with both Malcolm and Juli . This month I am introducing you to the newest addition to The Northern Block team. Meet Donna Wearmouth, our designer who joined the team in May. Let’s get to know more about her: 

How are you settling in to your job role here at The Northern Block?

Fingers crossed things are going well!

I find working here at The Northern Block is the right balance to enjoy design without the associated pressures and stress of the creative industry, whilst still delivering successful solutions. After working as a brand identity designer over the last 8 years, I joined The Northern Block to push my comfort zone and learn different areas of design and typography. TNB team is a collective of extremely talented individuals, who have a great insights within their roles and I for one benefit from their knowledge and understanding.

What is your day to day responsibilities in your role at TNB?

My responsibilities can vary from day to day at TNB. On the one hand I can be designing the marketing for the release of a new typeface, on the other creating internal assets for TNB website and social profiles. A project we currently have ongoing is the creation of The Northern Block’s sponsorship merchandise for TypeCon’s 20th Anniversary Conference in Portland, Oregon. This involves collaborating with type designers, reviewing previously created marketing material and working closely with a Print Consultant to achieve our concept as a tangible piece of marketing — as opposed to our traditional digital marketing.

What is a typical working day for your role at TNB look like?

I wouldn’t say I have a ‘typical working day’ here at TNB as it varies hugely depending on my workload being as flexible as possible. There isn’t the usual ‘client’ as there would be in a design or branding agency. This allows me the the time to make every single job the best it possibly can be before public release. However, it does means I have to manage my workload efficiently as every job has the same level of input and consideration.

How did you first hear about The Northern Block?

I first came across The Northern Block whilst working in my first design agency and have followed the foundry since. It’s been great to see such positive changes and progression over the years, and now to have the opportunity to see the inner workings of a type foundry such as TNB is a bonus.

What would you say are the advantages and disadvantages of working remotely for The Northern Block? Why?

This is my first agency role working remotely for the most part. Having recently started working at The Northern Block, I’m still adjusting. A key disadvantage is not being able to bounce ideas off one-another as soon as you have one. However, there are huge advantages too — I enjoy the freedom it brings, being able to balance work and life, less time commuting and flexible working hours… gone are the 9–5 shifts! Yes, it comes with more responsibilities and better self management to still get the job done on time, but the stress levels are definitely reduced!

You have worked for both design agencies and freelance, what would you say are the pros and cons of each?

The way in which agencies are progressing can only be a positive change for the creative industry. Flexible and remote working seems to be the way forward, with less stress and more freedom but still delivering positive results. Being part of a small but strong team based on individual discipline and strengths appeals to me and allows me to push my skill set and knowledge. Freelancing was hard work with a huge amount of competition and not always a guarantee at the end of a long road. However, it was a great learning curve for me as a designer and individual, getting to grips with all aspects of the role and not just the ‘design’ part (which is actually a small part) will be hugely beneficial going forward.

You have a great relationship with Northumbria University, how did that develop?

After graduating from Northumbria, I spent 6 years working within a design agency in Newcastle upon Tyne who already had an ongoing relationship with Northumbria University. The creative team had previously worked closely with the University, briefing and directing graphic design students on live projects. In the months following my graduation, a senior lecturer from the graphic design course enquired about spending time talking to students about studio life and the processes involved in producing ‘real’ client work. I continued to curate talks and studio tours with groups of students into my next agency role. It was an interesting time to see the changes of how design is viewed, understood and taught in Universities.

Which social media platform do you think is best for graphic design and why?

I tend to spend a lot of time on Instagram as I find it quite resourceful and functional — being able to view multiple images on one post or short animated graphics is a plus for me. I’ve followed many creatives from various disciplines and discovered new and upcoming agencies from around the world.

Who is your favourite graphic designer or a designer you look up to?

Michael Bierut — Pentagram New York Partner. I was lucky enough to meet him in London a few years ago whilst attending an event to tie in with the launch of his book ‘How To’. Following on from his talk, I briefly had a chat with him whilst getting a copy signed — he was very humble and down-to-earth. His presentation of work was also very insightful!

What is your favourite style of design?

I’m a sucker for Swiss Graphic Design. I recently bought a copy of ‘100 Years of Swiss Graphic Design’ — I still need to actually read it, rather than just looking at the graphics! There are many designers of this style; Müller-Brockmann, Emil Ruder, Karl Gerstner and Armin Hofmann to name a few. The way they use basic visual elements and typography to create distinctive design (that lasts) wins in my book.

What is your favourite era of design?

This is a difficult one as there are many design movements I am influenced by and attracted to. During College and University I attended Art History lectures, which were hugely insightful and educating where I spent a lot of time looking at various movements and eras, but I was always intrigued by the style of Bauhaus and De Stijl.

I am also hugely influenced by designers of the Modernist era — considered, clean, structured grid systems with an emphasis on negative space and the use of san-serif typefaces. LOVE IT!

When you are not at the studio, what do you like to do in your spare time?

My spare time is usually spent with family and friends. Pub and pint chats about design and the North, DIY and dog walking. I’m boring really — when I’m not designing, I’m usually looking at design (of some sort).

Over the eight years you have worked in this industry, what three lessons have you learned?

Listen. Learn. Live.

What advice would you give to aspiring graphic designers?

Be yourself.

Believe in your ideas — gut instinct is usually a good sign.

Have an opinion (but listen to others).

Don’t work for free, ever!

Want to know more about Donna? Make sure to check out her profile page here. Thank you for reading and make sure to give a warm welcome to Donna over at @northernblock.

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