An Interview with Sam Welsh, Design Executive

sam welsh website

Sam Welsh is responsible for design within the global marketing team at Treatt. This month we caught up with him to find out more about his work.

How did you discover your talent for design?
As a child I used to love drawing, spending most of my spare time creating new characters and writing my own comic books. In school, my teachers noticed I had a talent for illustrating and asked me to do a selection of drawings for various school workpapers, these ended up being used for about 10 years after I left the school, a small legacy to leave behind! I carried this love for art into upper school where I experimented with different medias. I knew I wanted to go down the creative route in my career and as the digital world was quickly developing, graphic design drew me in and felt like something I could use to earn a living as well as stay in the creative workspace I love. Once my GCSEs were complete, I looked to college to further my knowledge of the working creative industry.

How did you get into design? What formal training did you have to become a design executive?
I studied multimedia at college after leaving school, which gave me a chance to experiment in different fields of the arts. I studied modules in photography, print, fine art, web and video design and graphics. This course was a great opportunity to experiment, as at that age I wasn’t entirely sure what creative route I wanted to go down. This gave me the chance to discover what I thought suited me best. After I completed the year course, I decided to further my skills and enrolled in a HND (Higher National Diploma) in Graphic Design. On this two-year course I worked on a variety of live projects alongside local businesses, giving me an in-depth knowledge of working practices and understanding of how I can apply these skills and processes in the working world.

At the end of my HND, I had the opportunity to apply for a final year at Suffolk New College to gain a BA (Hons) degree in Graphic Design. In this additional year we were assigned a work placement, I spent four months with a company called Top That publishing, well-known for children’s literature, where I gained huge knowledge of the publishing industry. I completed my degree in 2008 and began looking for work in the design industry.

What led you to the flavour industry?
I’ve always seen the flavour industry as being a huge part of the creative world and, as an avid foodie, the idea of working at the forefront of this exciting trade really drew me in. I really enjoy spending time in the kitchen, experimenting with new flavours, much like the experts I work with at Treatt are continuously experimenting with new ideas, looking for new flavour trends and really pushing the boundaries of consumer experiences. I feel privileged to have the chance to use my own skills alongside those of my technical and innovative colleagues to raise the bar in the way we present ourselves to the world, making sure we look as good as the company feels.

Do you feel it is important for someone to be passionate about their profession to be successful?
I think it is important to be passionate about what you do. To feel enthusiastic and motivated to produce the best work you can is essential if you want to earn a living doing what you love. Clients and employers are always looking for that extra spark of energy and devotion in candidates and having that love for your work can really help you stand out from a crowd.

What do you enjoy most about your career?
I love having the opportunity to work with all departments of the business, whether it be the legal and accounting teams, sales, HR or the technical application team. They all have different challenges and want to present themselves in the best way they can both internally to their colleagues and externally to customers and I really enjoy helping them achieve this. Being able to be creative in my daily role is the reason I went into design and continues to be the main reason I enjoy coming to work every day.

What are some favourite projects you’ve completed and why?
Early in my career I worked alongside an upcoming music production company called Tangerine Tree. At the time I played the drums for a couple of local bands and we were booked for a few gigs across Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire. The organisers needed a designer to produce the marketing and social material, so I offered my services. Together we worked on a visual identity for the company and produced a variety of posters, flyers and digital material to get the name and events out there in the public eye. It felt great seeing the audience grow week by week and seeing my designs plastered o across the town.

In more recent times, working on the implementation of Treatt’s new brand has been great achievement. Unearthing the vast amount of touchpoints branding can reach in a business, it has been a very challenging experience. A huge amount of material had to be looked at, it has been an opportunity to rethink how and where our branding is applied and reinvent a lot of internal and external material to reflect the business Treatt has become.

How do you stay updated with design trends?
I like to look at all types of literature when looking for inspiration and trends. There are some great magazines out there that will inspire and amaze you, not just design focussed but food, music and fashion that use beautiful design to engage their audience. There are also some great websites out there, you only need to be interested in design trends to be swamped with a smorgasbord of ideas and opinions which all help shape the trends that we see being used. It’s just a matter of actively looking and you’re bound to find some wacky, wild, fun and sometimes absurd styles of design.

What do you think the future of graphic design looks like?
With current design trends appealing to a new generation of mobile user, designers have been forced to take a step back into a more slapdash style of design. To be as responsive to consumers’ needs, this cut and paste style of design is quick, not overthought and will continue to be popular into 2019.

This style is reflecting into the mainstream design world, where this incomplete or broken feel is used in various styles from the glitching images we recognise from such programs as black mirror to the ruined, collage style that can be seen in fashion, cosmetics and film.

Colour is playing a huge part in forward thinking design; double exposure duotone and vibrant one colour advertising are grabbing attentions. The use of gradients is also gaining pace again which is a surprise for all designers working in such a flat, vector dominated landscape for the last couple of years.

Another trend I think will continue to grow is the use of illustration and photography overlays, this is helped by the uprising of the mobile user, and such social channels as Instagram, it’s easy to maintain and is very compatible with the use of devices. Illustration can be a quick and effective way of giving real personality and individuality to an image as well as giving designers and viewers the opportunity to step away from reality and go wild.

Typography will always be a changing landscape in design, what was trending three months ago can already look dated, this is a space that needs a close eye kept on it, there’s bound to be something new tomorrow!