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Staff Focus: Suzanne Smith

Suzanne joined Mackman in May 2012 as a graphic designer. Having studied graphic design at the University for Creative Arts in Epsom (which counts Zandra Rhodes, Tracey Emin and Karen Millen as Alumni), Suzanne has an unrivaled appetite for creativity. Her extensive experience ranges from illustration to packaging design, and is a key member of the design studio at Mackman.

What’s your working background?
I’ve had a passion for design for as long as I can remember. It’s always been a part of my life, even before it was my full time job. I was working in a Gym a few years ago, when I was asked to look after their advertising and promotional material. I’d never done anything like it before – but knew it was the ‘thing’ I’d been missing. It challenged me, and I enjoyed it. In no time at all I’d enrolled at the Colchester Institute and studied for my National Diploma in Graphic Design. From there, I studied at the University for Creative Arts in Epsom. Studying design was a fantastic experience for me. It’s such a broad subject, one day I’d be learning about typography and illustration – and the next day I’d be designing packaging or sleeves for books! In the six months before joining Mackman, I was looking after all of the design, branding, advertising and promotional material for a thriving extreme sport shop.

What lead you to a career in design?
It sparked my interest in a big way. After studying for a little while, I realised that I felt a bit more alive when designing and it was something I’d naturally become very passionate about. Without me really knowing, my love for design had always been there though I suppose. I remember working in a music shop when I was younger, and the album artwork always grabbed my attention. The Pixies albums were designed by Vaughan Oliver and were so different to anything else I’d seen before – and the desire to create something unique, like Vaughan did, probably was the strongest thing that lead me into this field.

Do you have a favourite artist?
Not one in particular, I appreciate creative things which are clever, thought provoking, and stick in my mind.

What inspires you?
Everything and anything can be inspirational. I like a piece of art or design to make me think. Banksy is a great example, his work literally stops people in their tracks.

What’s it like working at Mackman?
Mackman is just the friendliest place to work. There are so many different personalities here, but we all get on well together, like a family. Even though it’s a busy, dynamic place to work, I’ve never felt like I don’t have the time or space to be creative in my job – and I know the others feel the same way too. We’re all given the time and room to grow in our own ways, which is why we’re all different.

Do you think your sector is changing?
The design industry changes all the time, and some changes can be big ones. Hand illustration is almost a thing of the past now, as everything is computerised – so that was a big shift. It can change with fashion, while some elements remain classics. With design, to be aware of what’s changing, you just need to be observant. I absorb so much by osmosis, which helps me to be creative.

If you weren’t working in design, what else would you like to do?

Honestly, I’d love to be a singer or a musician. It’d be a bit of a shift though as I don’t sing or play an instrument right now – but that form of expression has always been important to me. I’m a chatty, happy person, so would probably make a good children’s television presenter if the music thing didn’t work out!

What might we catch you ‘up to’ when you’re not at Mackman?
I like to be out and about when I’m not working. I always seem to have a lot of energy so I’m often on the move, whether that’s going for walks or socialising with my friends.

What’re your future goals?
Generally, it all comes down to being happy in life. I want to continue to be challenged and develop my design skills even further, and to be free to be creative.

Suzanne Smith