Jonty Sharples offers advice to young designers

The Generate speaker and design director of London agency Albion has some words of advice for young people.

There are many benefits to working as a freelancer - but there can be drawbacks too. Our article yesterday, The Designer's Guide to Getting a Life, looked at the alienating aspects of the freelance life and how to ameliorate them. And now - amongst other tips for designers - Jonty Sharples, a speaker at our upcoming conference Generate, has pointed out that the isolation caused by freelancing can sometimes have negative effects.

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"One of my biggest regrets is the amount of time I spent isolated, freelancing," says Sharples, who is design director at Albion. "Yes, I enjoyed myself and met all sorts of interesting people, but I actually think it stifled my career because I wasn't a part of a design family."

It wasn't all bad, of course. "It taught me an awful lot about how I wanted to be involved with design," Sharples adds. "And the team I work with now is testament to that - and their behaviour is very much familial."

More generally, Sharples offers the following advice to young designers. "Listen lots. Be empathetic. Find a craft and be good at it, then fold in your other passions and skills. Be honest, with yourself and those you work for and with. Find somewhere to work and learn."

Arrogance in design

That's not actually what he'll be speaking about at Generate, though. The subject of his talk is something quite different: 'Arrogance and Confidence in Design'.

"Our daily lives are peppered with annoyance," Sharples explains. "Someone, somewhere was responsible for designing that annoyance and sending off into the world to flourish and vex. It seems preposterous that so many products and services exist that clearly fail to accomplish their core function. This is either due to a surplus of arrogance or confidence.

"As designers we have a responsibility to our clients and their users to be diligent and accurate in our work. We’re all guilty of delivering less than perfect output now and again, whether that’s due to time or budgetary constraints. So I'll be looking at what can be done to combat this industry-wide affliction and why should we care?"

The main event

He'll be joined at Generate, held at the Grand Connaught Rooms in London, by 18 top-flight speakers including Mike Kus, Mark Boulton, Oliver Reichenstein and Stephen Hay.

With sessions and keynote presentations from the very best in the industry, the event - hosted with Creative Bloq in association with .net magazine - will be a unique opportunity to learn new skills, participate in one-on-one conversations, and network with the world's best designers.

Visit the Generate website today - and use the discount code JS15 to get 15 per cent off your ticket.

  • You can read the full interview here