Designers, what was your first piece of work?

As designers progress through their careers they sometimes forget where they started. Some designers can spend well over 40 years in the industry and will still carry on designing well in to retirement. The trouble of HDD errors and random formatting throughout a computers life can erase a designers early days. Unless you’ve been willfully backing up your work from the early days it’s very difficult to keep track of where the “old stuff” is.

I spoke with quite a few designers who still had some of their “old stuff” to show off, and to see what kind of work they started doing way back when. A lot of the text is un-changed from the emails I received as I wanted the designers themselves to critique their own work. It’s amazing to see how far most of them have come.

David Perel –

I do indeed, in my spare time I used to design helmets and the first design I ever did was a helmet which created using Microsoft Paint in order to create the outlines and then Fireworks to paint it. It is attached.


Ryan Downie –

Here is a screenshot of the very first full websites that I did. I am not scared to show it.

It was my own portfolio site that seemed to do pretty well on the CSS Galleries, and was launched just over fifteen months ago.

It was coded all in html and css without a CMS solution (as I didn’t know what one was back then) and i soon got fed up of having to go through and edit all the pages. I soon realized the error of my ways and scrapped it.

Version 2 is in the pipelines and a few of you will have seen this, and is expected to be launched towards the end of August.


Tim Van Damme –

[Gavin] – Tim was in London at the time of the post being but together and still very kindly emailed providing a link to his old work. One piece is below. [/Gavin]


Pasquale D’Silva –

These are my first vector pieces from back in 05ish:


David Airey –

I’ve kept that online to remind myself how crap I once was. It’s a veritable feast of MS Frontpage and tabular design, with a horrific logo and a jumped-up, generic business name.


Chris Spooner –

An old print design project from my first job, a magazine page ad for local events.


Gabriel Segura –

My first design in 2004 worth to show, attached. The rest, can be seen in up to today, 2009.


Oliver Ker –

I created this way back in high school, must be about 1999/2000 when we were just allowed to start using computers and photoshop for projects. This isn’t the first piece I did but I remember the first piece. It was when we got our first PC for Christmas ’95 and I drew a golf green with flag pole in PAINT – it was awesome! Back to this piece – it was for a packaging project as part of my GCSE’s. The Video cover (yes video!) was created in photoshop and I managed to squeeze in as many cliches in as possible (hey, it was the first time I’d used a computer for design!) Look at the ‘graphic pen filter’, unnecessary emboss, and really bad cut outs! The photos were fine, but the deadline got so tight that when it came to printing it out there was a problem with the printer and not even the teachers could get it to work correctly and this is how I had to hand it in!

I could have chosen a piece that looked kinda ok but thought this is the fun of it and probably the first time I got onto a computer, all my designs previous is drawn and sketched and not too bad!


Chris Merritt –

Screenshot of version 1.0 of Tables, baby! Be gentle in your article!


Jon Phillips –

I did this website for a friend of mine. He’s a magician and the website was (and still is) for promoting his services and booking. Of course when I built this website I did it all with tables and inline CSS and put as many keywords in the meta keywords and description as possible. I did this website back in the days when people thought you could just stuff a page with related keywords and easily end up on the 1st page of Google for those keywords. Things have changed a lot since! πŸ™‚


Kevin Crafts –

I’ve attached a screenshot of my personal site in flash (yikes).


Steve Smith –

So, I remembered this website that I made back when I was in high school. I used to keep and breed a fish called the Jack Dempsey, and I made a Geocities website about them. I haven’t seen this site in years, but thanks to, I managed to pull up a version of it from 1999, which would have been about a year after I stopped updating it. Hope you enjoy! (oh, this is hideous!)


Lee Munroe –

I did this for a cinema about 5/6 years ago (It’s still online)


Jonathan Snook –

A portfolio site that I had put together in late ’99. I did sample company layouts to demonstrate my design and HTML skills. Sadly, I don’t think it helped me land a single job. πŸ™‚


Matthew Smith –


Mike Kus –

Whilst the site is very nice, Mike assures me this is the first site he built. I checked the code, it’s all in tables so it must be a first!


Jason Santa Maria –

Sure thing. I actually wrote about this a while back and the previous versions of my sites are online:


Jacob Cass –

This was one of my very first logos for a heavy metal band called Anno Domini or “After Death” back in 2004 (was aged 16) before I had any design training at all.


Veerle Pieters –

I had to dig into my archives and go look for stuff that is not laying around here since it is so old πŸ™‚ I started out in ’92 so that’s ‘pre-internet-dino’ time πŸ™‚ I was a print designer back then. I still am, but it’s not the mayor part anymore like it was back then.

My very very first design of a brochure is incomplete (I only found parts of it) so I’m showing you my 2nd one. It dates back to ’92. Computers (Macs) had only 4 MB of RAM back then (imagine!) πŸ™‚ So some of the things were done by hand (analog) still: photos were placed into the layout at prepress agencies etc. This 2nd brochure is also designed that same year. The logo is not designed by me btw, so it’s just the layout of the brochure. On the back there is a watercolor I made. I still have the original watercolor.

This is really old stuff and definitely not ‘my best’ design (I came a long way since then). The means were different to, like I mentioned before. All imagery was still done analog e.g. the illustrations of the tiles, is not digital, it’s paper that was scanned in at the prepress agency.


Cameron Moll –

There’s something so childhood-photo-ish about diving into one’s personal website archives. But it’s amazing to see how far we’ve really comeβ€”or how far we have yet to go.

Prepare yourself for legendary FrontPage 98 code.


Andy Sowards –

Basically when I was learning to use photoshop I was like 18 or 19 at the time, and would take pictures from my camera phone and grunge them up and post them on myspace, thankfully I don’t use myspace anymore LOL. This is probably one of my first attempts of that.


Rob Palmer –

Ok don’t laugh!! Please find attached a visual of the first website I ever designed!

The site was called Torqair, and it was a micro site advertising Brake and Motor products. (Built solely in flash!) Oh the fun!


Elliot Jay Stocks –

This is nowhere near my first design project, as I’ve been designing forever, but this was one of the first websites I designed after joining EMI as Junior Web Designer, and that was my first ‘proper’ job after leaving uni:


Not everyone had a screenshot…

Paul Boag –

Unfortunately I do not have a screen shot of my first website anyway. It wasn’t much to look at to be honest. It was a site for Rank Films and consisted of the rank logo (you know, the guy hitting the large gong) centred on a grey background (no background colours at that stage) with a load of left aligned text underneath (no table based layout yet!).

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43 thoughts on “Designers, what was your first piece of work?”

  1. Agreed, this is an excellent post! My first design piece that I was paid for was 5 drawings of a cartoon bear with business executives. I recently stumbled across them and thought “how pitiful”. haha

  2. Great post, I often look at some of my first works and often end up cringing haha, it’s a shame, I have lost a lot of it though due to computer problems etc and failed backups =[

    Nice post though :]

  3. Wow. Now that’s what I call design! Ditto of what @david said above. That was four years ago for me. I’ve learned a good bit from a handful of the people on this list. Glad that web design is such a community driven project. If it weren’t, I’d be toast.

  4. This was my first full, live, functioning website circa 2002. I can’t believe it’s still up and running, I haven’t worked on it in years.

    I worked with an elderly lady that had no clue about the web but tried really hard to get caught up to speed with this new “crazy” technology. It was a lot of fun. I learned SOOO much and it started a career that is really turned into more than that. It’s now a life style.

  5. Exactly what i thought, too! Very cool to see those ‘first works’ especially from those i know a little bit about what theyre doin today!

  6. I’m sorry but in most cases above these are NEVER their first designs!

    Common, show your really ugly stuff then I will ^-^

  7. Ironic to see this post, since I happened to be digging around my computer files last night and found my first website design (if you want to call it that). Kind of cool to revisit where it all started.

  8. Can’t find any of my early web designs but i can remember they consisted of table’s and font tag’s *cringe* this was back in 2002.

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  10. Great showcase. These are my favorite kinds of post. Kinda humanizes the whole design blogosphere and gives a little bit of insight into the way others work and came up. Awesome job.

    – John

  11. Great post. When I found the first portfolio of the Creative Director I was working for back in 1998, I realized that I could definitely do this. Occasionally I grit my teeth and go back and look at my own portfolio. I see diamonds in the rough… most of the time. LOL

  12. Great post! Brilliant designs, think we should all go back to sites like these! Think of the bandwidth freedom πŸ™‚

  13. Thanks for having me! I LOVE seeing other designers who I respect like these guys early works, we can all look back on it and have a laugh and take a step back and see where we all started πŸ™‚

    Great roundup!

  14. A pleasure to help out, Gavin. That first web portfolio of mine is still online, and looking back contains some work I’d rather forget. I’ve linked to it through my name for anyone curious.

  15. It’s always good to be looking back, b/c we don’t know where we’re headed if we don’t remember where we’ve been. Inspirational post here.

  16. Thanks for asking me again, think the idea for a post is great.
    I like the fact people I look to for inspiration started from the beginning too, think it gives us all a little bit of hope.

  17. Such an amazing post, shame I have none of my old work available and missed out on taking part. I think I might have to start looking on some old PC’s for my work!

    It just goes to show what time & dedication really can do to your skills. Hats off to everyone who took part and I’d love to see more of these type of posts.

    Thanks, nice work Gavin.

  18. Great idea, very humbling being reminded of mid 90’s work. Sadly or thankfully I don’t have any of it and none of the sites are still live!

  19. Great post. I love seeing this kind of stuff from other designers. As someone said above, we’ve all got to start somewhere, right? I posted about my own sorted design past back in 2005:

    Seeing all these horrible print examples though reminds me of one of my first real client projects from while I was still in college:

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  21. What an awesome post! It’s fun looking back at the evolution of one’s design styles and approaches.

    The first piece of work I did and got paid for was a logo I did was for a sushi restaurant.

    This is a great topic and I’ll have to do a post on this subject!

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  23. This is brilliant! So many people focusing on what’s amazing, but we all had to start somewhere. I took an intro web design class and it was really exciting to see what people did with websites even though they might have been not the easiest to follow. So I like the idea of looking at less well done designs.

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