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The Ideal Studio
Yarra Jones

Yarra Jones is a London-based art director and designer who splits her time between freelance work and regular jobs for fashion brands. She is also co-founder of the Paperstock stationery range.

Yarra Jones on... 

What good leadership means...

“A really good creative director is someone that is present, not a superstar you never see because they’re orbiting the globe somewhere. They should be really hands-on, super-interested in all the projects and have that kind of contagious energy that inspires a studio with that sense of healthy competitiveness.”

“In some bigger studios you often get a lot of account managers but I feel that designers should definitely have more contact with the client directly. But a really good account manager an be priceless. You want someone who has a creative head and is able to contribute rather than just making sure the budgets work.”

The importance of being nice...

“I think thoughtfulness is really important. Most of the struggles people have in a normal day are interpersonal, just trying to get along with each other or a client. Everyone turning up in the morning should try to be pleasant.”

Breaking the tryanny of the computer screen...

“Having a proper library and lots of good magazine subscriptions is key. It goes back to how we used to reference when I first started. You had to scan things in or drag big piles of magazines up to wherever the photocopier was if you were putting together a mood board. It was far more tactile and you got a much better sense of scale. The computer seems more passive.”

“I think there should be time for hunting and gathering – a day off every month to get out and about. See a film, go to a gallery or whatever. It doesn’t even have to be a design-related day out – any research or activity that might feed into a project down the line, free from the restraints of a brief.”

Making the most of freelancers...

“Studios should see more senior freelancers as specialists: people to bring in at the beginning of the process, rather than at the end to help tidy up and roll out. Use them semi-permanently as an extension of the full-time team or even replace full-time positions – e.g. have a senior freelancer in two to three days a week instead of a middle-weight five days a week.”

“Studios should also be more accommodating with working remotely and being flexible with traditional work hours.”

“It can be good to have a meeting with the designer before you start so you don’t come in cold. Also it should be really clear who you should approach if you have any problems. Often it is whoever you are sat next to who ends up having to answer all your questions and you can sense them losing their patience.”

The ideal studio....

“A culture of doing stuff rather than talking about it. Somewhere to work and play, a massive shared space with little nooks to hide away in. I think around eight to ten people is a good size; any bigger and people start splintering off into small groups. Lots of natural light, space to spread out and walls to put things on. Not too many boring meetings.”


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