One of the 10 nominees for Young Designer of the Year in the 2014 net Awards (opens in new tab), Chris Allwood (opens in new tab) is a digital designer from Nottingham, UK, where he works for the award winning agency, Un.titled (opens in new tab). He also organises the digital and creative event, Second Wednesday (opens in new tab). We chatted with him to find out more.
Give us a summary of your career so far.
During my teenage years, I studied at Lincoln College of Art and Design which gave me a solid grounding in my career path and a great experience. From there, I went on to Nottingham Trent University and graduated with a First Class Honours in Interactive Media.
In terms of my working life, during my second year of university I was the in-house web designer for a sports-travel company. I then moved over to agency life during my final year when I worked as a designer part-time at a local agency. I went full-time in this role when I graduated.
I joined Un.titled in July 2013 where I am a digital designer.
I started co-organising Second Wednesday in November 2012 and that’s grown month on month so I definitely consider it part of my career. We've got some great speakers in the pipeline and we’re now working on putting together workshops, too.
What have you been working on over the last year?
I seem to have found myself doing a lot of ecommerce work. Throughout 2013 I have designed five responsive ecommerce websites for a varying mix of clients. I appear to be finding a trend in mid to high end design such as fashion and interior design.
With that has come the opportunity to art direct too rather than working on the website alone, which I find is a much more satisfying role. I've had the opportunity to work with brands and to see the bigger picture of their output rather than what directly affects the website. In doing so, I also have a far greater control over what goes on the website, such as the content and the photography.
However, as much as I love designing for ecommerce, I don’t see myself as a specialist in it so have taken on a variety of different projects in my spare time. Recently, I’ve worked with Robert Mills to produce his editorial-style blog and Joel Hughes to create his new site for The Business of Web Design. Oh, and there are the Second Wednesday interviews, too!
What have been the particular high points of your career?
This nomination and the nomination Second Wednesday has received are two of my biggest highlights to date.
Along the way, I was also nominated as the only interactive media student on my course to showcase my work at D&AD New Blood back in 2012.
Getting a job at Un.titled, an agency that has consistently produced brilliant creative work for years, in 2013 was also a massive high point in my career.
Who and what influences and inspires your work?
Naturally, my direct family is a big inspiration. I’m very lucky in that I am surrounded by creative and talented people. My parents run their own butchers shop - which has been passed down since 1928 - and their dedication to their art has always shown me how important it is to care about your craft.
Along with my family, those around me in my work and social life really are a talented bunch. I’m part of a very active community in Nottingham which I only discovered through Second Wednesday.
In terms of my career, while at Lincoln College, my favourite modules were the the likes of Art History. Studying and understanding artistic movements and how they were a reaction of what was happening in the world at that time, what had came before and what was on its way was truly inspiring. I know I am a digital designer by profession, but really I just love great art and design.
What are you excited about at the moment?
I’m really excited by a number of rather mundane things at the moment. We’re talking about The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones starting again… that sort of thing!
Other than that, at Un.titled we’ve just secured some really exciting projects which has got us all talking about new ideas we can implement into our work practices. Unfortunately (as always in the web!) I can’t speak about these yet, which is a shame!
Tell us about an important lesson you've learned in your career.
I think an important lesson I’ve learned is to trust my own judgement and to fight for what I believe in.
We all get in situations from time-to-time where we compromise too much and lose part of what we are in the process. But nobody is going to fight for your beliefs as hard as you, so you have to trust your own judgement and carve your own path.
Name an 'unsung hero', someone you admire who deserves more recognition for their work.
One of my unsung heroes would be Kyle Shrives. I’ve worked with Kyle for over two years now and I've learnt more from this guy than anyone else in my career. I’ve lost count of the amount of projects I have shipped with him.
Kyle is a brilliant front-end developer, but he's also a great designer, client handler and project manager too. He sees the best in people and plays to their strengths, which results in the best possible outcome.
The second would be Lucie Delacy. Lucie is my partner, both in life and in Second Wednesday.
She is a freelance copywriter and, again, is a ridiculously talented, hardworking person who often does her work behind the scenes. Having worked with her on creative projects, organised Second Wednesday with her every month and seen how she handles her freelance projects, I'm truly inspired to be with, and work with, such a passionate, caring and hardworking person.
I've often believed that while there are some great practitioners that we all know and respect, some of the best are people we don't even know are there. They're in the background, focussing on their work, consistently producing solid stuff. Kyle and Lucie are two of those people.
Vote in the net Awards!
Celebrating the best in web design and development, the 15th net Awards (opens in new tab) is open for public voting until 24 March. With a record breaking number of nominations this year, it's set to be the biggest and best yet. Have your say by casting your votes here (opens in new tab).