Why I’ll probably never work in an agency again

The word probably

The most used word in this brain dump is going to be ‘probably‘, I can tell you that right now. That’s even before I’ve fully thought how this is going to pan out. It’s something I’ve wanted to talk about for a while and obviously more about the reasons behind it.

I currently work at Codeworks, and don’t get me wrong it is brilliant. Working on such projects as Thinking Digital and the DIBI Web Conference is crazy good. I wake up every morning stoked that I have the opportunity to do it. It is hard work, my weeks feel more like days and there is always a to-do list but it’s exciting. I’m doing everything I want to do and then some. I’ll probably be doing this for some time as I do enjoy it that much.

Natural progression in my head stated that when I was freelance a few years ago I needed agency experience to see ‘the other side’. That agency was small in size and big in ambition and there were some great times but at the end of the day the agency wasn’t mine. My views and my way of doing things would never have been implemented and I would never have seen the outcome of how everything in my head would have worked live within an agency.

The opportunity to work within the agency on various projects was great but I never had the opportunity to run the agency like I would have liked to.

In an agency there are always more people involved in the company than you and certainly more than the thoughts going round inside of your head. When you’re freelance or working for yourself, every decision you make is down to you, you in essence are the control freak running everything. You don’t have to rely on other people, you don’t have to carry people and you don’t have to wait for things to be implemented. Everything happens right there and then as soon as you think of it when working for yourself. If you are working within an agency you probably never have the opportunity to implement things that you’d like, unless you’re the MD/CEO.

I now feel after having the experience of both sides of the coin that I need more control in that scenario. I probably need to relax somewhat but when you’re putting your working reputation on the line you certainly don’t want to have to rely on other people. If I was to work within an agency again, it would be small and it would be my own. I’d keep it very small working with people I’d trust my life with with the same amount of ambition and love for their work as I do, but again this may probably never happen as I’m enjoying myself far too much.

I wonder how many other people who have both been freelancer and agency employee think about this? Your thoughts would be great on the subject. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, 600+ other people do…

Morals in Design

Being a designer isn’t easy. I think any designer would say the same, at times the general day to day running of being a designer can leave you feeling happy, sad or ecstatic. I would say there is usually no happy medium of the good, bad and ugly times. Mood swings, clients and designers block can ruin a day yet sunshine, paid invoices and free flowing creativity can make some of the best working days you can have.

There are somethings that I stand by, in life and in work and these are morals. I would say I am a very moral person, possibly too moral to some people but it’s how I live my life to make sure I’m keeping on the straight and narrow. There are six specific morals or values if you want to call them that I stick to and below I explain why you should use some morals/values in design even if they’re not the same as my own.

Selfless Commitment

The design world is vast! I’d love to know how many people in the world classify themselves as designers whether it be graphic, web or product there are a lot of us. A value that I believe in quite strongly is selfless commitment, to put the industry and other designers before myself. I live for this industry, I love what all designers do and know how hard it is to get anywhere so whenever people ask something of me then I’ll do my best to help other designers out where I can.


Courage, we designers sure do need a lot of it. At times we need courage to get out of bed and answer emails never mind when it comes to getting feedback and presenting designs to clients. We also need the courage to stand up for what is right in our industry, to stand against spec work and put value back in what we do instead of pushing design auctions where the value of design is so low. We designers need the courage to do the right thing, day in day out.


We should stand up and be counted and show that we have the discipline to stay within one of the best industries in the world. Self-discipline is the best form of discipline and if we stick to this and our own personal high standards then we will gain the respect of our clients and peers. Stick to doing things right always and have the discipline to do so.


Integrity means being honest. Don’t cheat, lie and steal another designers work. If you’re inspired by it and want to use elements of it, ask the designer as you would probably be surprised about the answer you receive. All it takes is a little bit of respect and a lot of back-bone to stand up and be counted and having some integrity.


What goes around, comes around. You wouldn’t cause trouble on your own doorstep now would you? Help people out, there are A LOT of people in our industry who are just starting out and need that helping hand to get them on their way. Be kind to one another and believe me, in time something will happen where you remember that time you were loyal to your own and gave that aid to someone who needed it.

Respect for Others

We deserve to be treated fairly and it starts within. We should have respect for everyone including our clients. We should not determine that some people should be treated differently because they’re not ‘one of us’, we should treat everyone as we would like to be treat yourself.

What other designers stand by?

Aaron IrizarryAaron Irizarry

What moral’s or values do you stand by in your work?

1) Honesty… always (even when it can mean less for me)

2) Make myself better, by making my teammates better first(when working in a team environment)

3) Family first… no point in making all kinds of money only to end up with no one to spend it with.

4) Give the benefit of the doubt as much as I would want it.( even when it is the last thing I want to do)

5) Don’t suck at Life

Liam McKay

The main morals and values I stand by are those that ensure I’m free to do what what I know works in each project. Ensuring that a client isn’t going to take advantage, or overlook your input. A certain amount of freedom and creativeness is essential for any project I work on. I try, as much as I can, to give myself a new challenge with every new project. I’m always trying things I’ve not tried before, whether they work or not. Working with a client that respects your role and gives you room for experimentation is what we all hope for with each new client, but there are exceptions and varying levels of freedom. I try not to get involved in projects where I feel that I won’t be given the time of day to explain, educate or put my point across. You don’t need to take on every project that get’s put through to you. For me it’s all about ensure that you get the respect you need, and if you’re not feeling that from a client you don’t need to sacrifice your own integrity and personality just to please them.

Elliot Jay Stocks

I have some morals and values I always keep in mind when deciding what work to take on or turn away. I’ve actually turned away a number of high-paying projects because I want to stay true to my own personal beliefs. For instance, I turn away any work for religious organisations. And of course I’m always cautious about projects that may discriminate or harm certain groups of people. I think that goes without saying.

Ryan Downie

The morals and values that I stand by is to be totally transparent with my work and clients. I personally cannot stand people who fabricate the truth, so I am totally honest and upfront with clients straight off the bat.

Your thoughts?

I’m interested to hear your thoughts on the subject! Don’t forget to follow me on twitter.

Good money in design?

Good money? Good question, and one that I received recently from a friend who wanted to know whether there was good money in design. The conversation went like the below;

Is there good money in design as I’m fed up wtih my job and want a change?

I replied;

I didn’t think you were in to design?

Which they replied;

Well I dabble a bit so thought it would be good if the money was in it.

This really struck a nerve. Not in a bad way, Drew and I get on really well, and I know his current job situation but more because there is obviously a perception that you can jump in to a career in design on a whim because you may ‘dabble’ in design.

Let’s get over using the word design for a moment and concentrate on the creative industry on a whole. Creativity isn’t something you can dabble in, either you’ve got it or you don’t. Granted you can be creative in different ways but I firmly believe it’s certainly something that is ingrained in your blood from the first time you threw paint at an easel with paint brush to the time you sent your last design to a client for approval. Creativity is there from when you are born and throughout your entire life. You will hone your skills to make sure you can produce the design you’ve been wanting to create.

Is it about the money?

Everyone has to pay their way and everyone has to live. Unfortunately for the world, designers and creatives cannot be paid with boxes of chocolates and jammie dodgers no matter how often we are sent them. We do need money, but is money the only thing we want? Me personally, I’d like to be paid for my time. We don’t learn our skills over night and it can take years and years to get to where we are now and we should be paid accordingly. With any job in the world there are levels to how much we get paid depending on our skill sets and ‘time served’ in a career.

Do we design for money? Do we design to see our clients smile? Do we design to see the users using our design smile? Do we design to stroke our own egos? It would be interesting to see a ratio of how many designers design because they live it rather than it being just for the money. Our jobs aren’t like working in a retail industry where you go to work in shifts, do your hours and go home. We designers can end up working silly hours just because we enjoy what we’re doing.

It’s hard putting an ‘amount’ on it

It’s hard working out how much to charge for something you love doing but it has to be done. We can’t work for nothing and I’d like to think that we do not design just for the money. Yes you can make a good living from design, but it takes a huge amount of effort and a massive amount of creative skill to get to where you are comfortable financially.

I’d also hope that some people do not join the creative industry just for the money, especially when they’re not creative in the first place. Love what you do, do it because you would do it anyway and get paid for the privilege.