Tasha Pretlove has been working at Buckinghamshire creative agency, Fluro, for a year. To get the job, she managed to sidestep a formal application process. Having finished her degree in graphic design at Leeds Arts University, she had heard of Fluro through the grapevine and could see herself fitting in. So she decided to send an email with her CV and portfolio, asking if they were looking to expand their team, and saying that she was fresh out of uni, eager to learn and in love with design.
After going in for an informal chat, she was then offered a month-long placement. And after a planned trip to Australia, that placement was replaced with a full-time role.
Of the process, she says: "If I’ve learnt anything, it would be to take the risk, make yourself known and stand out! The informal interviews were relaxed, welcoming and I got the sense they really care about whether I’d be a good fit."
To find out more, we caught up with Pretlove to discuss daily life at Fluro, her favourite (and trickiest) project, her take on internships, plus her advice for budding designers.
Tell me about a typical day as a junior designer
At Fluro I get in at 8:45am, go through the day's schedule and get ready for my day. The core creative team starts the day at 9am with some account managers in a 'stand up'. This is our time to tell everyone about the work we have on, any time we have free or if we can’t be disturbed due to a deadline coming up. Account managers also have the opportunity to let us know about any urgent jobs or changes.
Then I get on with my work for the day with review slots at 12pm and 4pm, where I can send work in progress to a senior or lead creative to look over. The type of projects I work on varies from day-to-day, one day I could be working on social posts, flyers, or e-books and the next I could be on a website reskin or internal work for Fluro.
I usually take my lunch break around 12:30pm, trying to make sure I get out for some fresh air or play a round of pool before sitting down for some food. The afternoon will follow the same process as the morning with jobs and reviews coming up at 4pm. I'll typically be ready to go at around 5:45pm having sent jobs off and looked over my next day's work to get organised.
How do you find working at Fluro as opposed to being freelance?
It’s a completely different experience to freelance. As a freelance, you’re on your own schedule, working when and how best suits you. Being a one-woman band means you have all the face-to-face client conversations, whereas working in an agency means you are the designer, and the account managers spend their time liaising with clients giving you more room to really focus. Working at Fluro also gives me the space to ask my colleagues for their opinion and to bounce off each other creatively.
In terms of pros at being at an agency, I'd say they are being part of a bigger picture and having more space to grow and develop learning from experienced designers all around you. Also, understanding a wider range of the industry such as motion and web development as well as seeing the importance of jobs such as a copywriter and account managers. Then there's being more social and being part of a creative community, as well as of course having a pool table and drinks on a Friday.
The set hours and reduced flexibility are cons in comparison to freelance, but then again, I’m no longer working on weekends! Although sometimes the workflow can be unpredictable. Other drawbacks are that feedback can be a double-edged sword – when freelance you’re the lead designer, junior designer, artworker and everything else so you get less feedback throughout a project, whereas working in a studio is more collaborative and feedback can come from multiple directions.
Which project are you proudest of and why?
I’m very proud of Hoop Heroes, this rebrand was one of the first projects where I was given the reigns, so it has a special place in my heart. Working with the client closely and having autonomy over the creativity was very exciting for me. It’s been great seeing the assets come to life and the fun projects we have coming up for them as well. I take a lot of pride in this project. It’s been on quite the journey, and I’ve become a better designer because of it.
Tell me about a tricky work-related challenge and how you approached it
Hoop Heroes, even though it’s the project I’m most proud of, it’s also the one I struggled with the most. It wasn’t an easy project at the start as I was also learning a lot about how Fluro works as a studio and the process of these sorts of projects internally. The entire project was a huge learning opportunity for me and looking back I’ve gained a lot of insight into the creative industry from that project.
How do you approach a new brief when you get it?
When I get a new brief, I call on the account manager for any materials or resources I may need. This could be anything from imagery assets to measurements or a talk through to understand the history of the project and where it’s going. I’ll then look at assets we’ve produced for them previously, look over brand guidelines and research into potential concepts. Then it’s time to deep dive into the project and explore a range of possible routes for the outcome.
What advice would you give a budding designer?
Expect to learn a lot on the journey, take in all the information you can and stay experimental.
Brand guidelines and rules are a significant part to a lot of the projects. Companies have a set way of doing things and you need to work within that but still push the boundaries in ways you think they would like to see.
Working for an agency is as exciting as you would expect, you get to work for a lot of different clients on all types of projects and this can be overwhelming at times but power through and you'll see your hard work pay off. I'd also say you need to understand the agency you’re working for. I feel like such a bigger part of the team now that I know more about Fluro and learning everything there is to know about our own brand style and the guidelines we’ve set.
Presentation skills are important, and as much as we all despise the usability of PowerPoint and Word, make sure you get to know the basics... clients love it.
Your confidence will grow over time. Make sure to take advantage of any opportunities that come your way in the role. Something I did to push myself out of my comfort zone was presenting in front of a group of university students about my experience following University. This experience helped me gain confidence and provided an opportunity to reflect.
Do you think internships are valuable for young designers?
This is a big question. I think they are – to an extent – you learn a lot from them and experience all sorts of atmospheres and places of work, but I think for an internship to be really worthwhile you need to be there for over three months, ideally over six. It always takes a little while to settle in and find your feet and that’s when you are really start learning and developing as a designer. It’s also important to remember an internship is a learning experience, if you aren’t getting anything out of it and are just being worked like a regular designer you must make sure to look at the situation. Are you being over-worked and under-paid? Are you getting what you wanted out of the internship?
How can junior designers ensure their ideas and output stay fresh?
It can be tricky to keep things fresh when it comes to ideas and design. It’s normal to go through a creative rut and sometimes it feels like it’ll go on forever. But just keep exploring and finding design that sparks joy for you. Keep it in your back pocket, save it to a board or add it to an inspiration document. And inspiration can be found in all sorts of places. One of my favourite ways to get into the groove of design again is watching graphic design videos on TikTok; they’re easy to digest, you can see people’s processes and learn all sorts of hidden tips and tricks for designers.
Who’s your dream client?
So, I’m a vegetarian and a massive foodie, I would love to work for a big name in the meat alternatives industry, someone like THIS or Quorn. I love packaging design, there’s always a lot of room to have fun with it and it can have a huge impact on the consumer. How cool would it to be, walking down the isle of Tesco and coming across your design on the shelves? Pretty epic.
What's your dream role?
To be completely honest, I don’t know. I’m still new to the industry and don’t think you should ever narrow yourself to one specific job goal. I enjoy so many parts of design from advertisement to social media content, packaging design to web design. At this stage I see my future including at least a few of these routes. Exploring design and all its enticing routes to find what works for me.
What career advice would you give your younger self?
Stick to it, know your worth and find the fun in everything you do, oh and never stop learning. There’s probably quite a lot I’d tell her!