GDE730, GDE730 - Week 1

Week 1 – Workshop Challenge


In Week 2 of the first module i really went out of my comfort zone and spoke to a number of freelance designers and business owners in the York area. It was a really fascinating and honest insight into how York is encouraging creative spirit through festivals, network meetups and more, despite quite a lack of funding from the local council.

There was a general frustration that despite York being a UNESCO City of Media Arts, there isn’t a great push on encouraging new and emerging designers to really showcase their talent. There is an independent yearly event (York Open Studios) where local artists and creatives open their studios for the public to come in, look at their work and talk to the artists. There is also the York Creative local networking team who work so hard to get enough funding for creative events in the city.

For example, York hosts an international media festival showcasing artists, creatives, musicians, filmmakers etc – this York Mediale’s first event in 2018 was denied funding from the Arts Council and the independent team behind the festival found alternative ways of funding the festival.

Yorks history with the arts is full of examples such as this, and for this reason a lot of creatives move to bigger cities such as Leeds, Newcastle, Manchester for more opportunities.

There is such a huge connection of local, brilliant creatives and this strong network has been so helpful for me for the past couple of years. It’s not only inspiration but support when you perhaps feel you need the help.

As I also found during my research and interviews, there are a few larger design companies which also specialise in marketing, advertising and website design – all amalgamated together to create a generalised design business. This means the studios have around 6 employees all specialists in different fields and very tight knit. The other design studios are freelance designers – freelancers make up the majority of design studios in York. For this reason, when trying to get my first job in an agency, I wound up applying in Leeds predominantly for larger, more supportive studios where I would be able to experience more.

I was also faced with the roadblock of “3 years minimum experience and a degree”… neither of which I had at the time and I found myself applying for places I would never have wanted to work, purely to gain that 3 years experience.

Personally, I knew, had I gone for the job offered to me at the design studio, I would have been compromising the work I produce and wouldn’t have had the experience I’d needed to really grow as a designer.

Open Studios – there were two open studio spaces in York, both of which closed down about 5 years ago and are now modern apartments. This lack of open space means small start ups aren’t encouraged in the city and people can’t hire out arts equipment or space to fulfill their creativity.

There is one area at the University which is called Phase One – a dedicated space to companies which have been running for less than a year and offers office space to rent.

The Proposal

The above is the foundation for my business proposal – a semi-open studio which hires young, new designers struggling to find their feet in a city full of Freelancers and small businesses. The studio would offer bright new sparks the chance to grow in an environment mixed with both experienced and fresh designers, to absorb knowledge and have the chance to experiment. The studio will also specialise in collaboration and experimentation.

The opportunity to offer open studios would be something this city really needs – hiring out a studio area, with the necessary equipment available will promote creativity and encourage creatives to stay in York. For young new deisgners, the opportunity to collaborate with other local artists and creatives would also be encouraged alongside hosting workshops, small lessons and the chance to show their work.

This would help to open up opportunities to introduce themselves to larger design businesses within the Yorkshire area to get their first step up into a design studio that is well suited to them.

All of the above was borne out of personal, internal frustrations when starting out in this industry in this city and it is my intention that others don’t feel as lost as I did when I started and have the courage to continue down the path they want to follow and stay true to themselves.

Researching other “about” pages

Rather than choose random design studios from our geo-tagging map, I wanted to carefully select the studios I chose to compare. It felt pointless choosing studios that weren’t similar to the area I was interested in (open studios and young teams).

Common Sense Studio in Plymouth offers open spaces for access to print making facilities that were otherwise unavailable in the area. They also host masterclasses and workshops.

Their ‘about’ page is short, succinct and to the point – their use of colourful imagery highlights who they are as a company. Of course, they are not a design agency that need to really ‘sell’ their product, but it’s definitely important to note that people won’t want to read a page of waffle filled with “buzz words” when all they want is to recognise that this is an open studio and the facilities provided.
Highsnobiety offer a clear description of their studio and the young team they employ. I believe promoting the fact you have both experience and youthful designers is hugely important.
Similarly, GTF discusses the size of it’s team and the benefits this provides. Also highlighting the opportunities to collaborate with other specialists is vital – it means this studio can experiment and have the ability to create really unique work.


XXX Studio is a York based collaborative design studio, fusing experienced designers with emerging local talent. We provide the facilities for physical and digital projects resulting in unique and diverse work.

Each project is tackled by our small team as a whole and is treated individually. We use our combined skills so your voice and mission is portrayed clearly within your brand’s identity. Our flexible design studio offers a personal and practical approach to help develop the visual identity of your business.

We also provide open studio space for local artists and support self-initiated projects from outside talent as well as our own designers. Our monthly workshops help emerging creatives understand the equipment we offer as well as provide valuable knowledge from the experts in their fields. Local art and visual artefacts can be found displayed around our studio.

The foundation of our studio is to create a safe and easily accessible environment for local creatives to explore and refine their craft. Combining the skills of our dynamic team with other specialists in a multitude of fields results in successful collaborative projects and give these artists the chance to produce and display their work.

We strongly support local talent and provide an enriching educational environment for emerging creatives within our small city. We all have a story, let’s tell yours.

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