Rewind back (many years) to English class in my South West secondary school, age 12 and we were asked to secretly write on the last page of our 'Notes from a Small Island' novel, what we wanted to do when we were older.
5 minutes in and the room had fallen silent, as most of us gave it some deep thought. But I was quick to write ‘Graphic Designer’. I liked writing in different styles on the header of every piece of graphics coursework I ever did, loved anything artistic, media studies was fun, adverts caught my eye and I liked to analyse things. I was an avid reader and my teachers encouraged my interests.
I was pretty sure I wanted to be a designer but I still explored other options through part-time jobs, just in case I found something more suitable. So I took a gap year and worked in WHSmiths to save for my solo trip to the US, where I spent 3 months teaching Art and Design at Island Lake summer camp in the forests of Pennsylvania. The camp had regular visits from local wild bears, kids from the Hamptons and staff from across the world. It was a great summer that cemented my interest in design and 3 weeks after I returned to England, I left my home in Somerset to study for a BA Hons in Graphic Design at Coventry University.
But it was nearly really different, here are the opportunities I almost took up:
Journalist for a regional paper
The interview involved sitting at one end of an enormous conference table being grilled on my interests in news and told about the 6 week residential journalism course I would need to go on if I wanted the job.
Care home assistant
My favourite job as a teenager was serving lunches, dinners and cleaning rooms for the lovely residents in my local care home. I danced with them to their favourite songs, heard their stories, played along to their requests for lemonade (despite clearly only having tea and coffee with me), gave out sherry’s on a Sunday and lots of hugs. Most rewarding job ever.
I like meeting people, organising things and probably thought this would be a fast track to a much needed holiday but I came to my senses and realised this one wasn’t for me.
“Sell me this... calculator” they said during my interview. I ended up working on the customer service desk and looking after the cooking and design books. I soon realised that I wanted to be designing magazines and books - not selling them.
Carpet pattern designer
While I didn’t get much beyond the interview stage for this one, my brother Martin (who’s also a graphic designer) had more success and ended up doing a work placement at luxury English carper manufacturer, Axminster Carpets, which saw one of his designs used in a fancy hotel in America.
Elephant keeper* at my local zoo
*Ok, I was never going to be an elephant keeper (I actually worked in the zoo's bar) but my family like to amuse themselves with this in-house urban myth.
- Charlee Sully, Creative Director of The Usual Studio
I work across design, ideas, strategy and content, writing about design, innovation and entrepreneurship. I love sushi, tea's my cuppa of choice and BBC6 music's always on. Unlike a former housemate - I do find comedy funny.