Continuing with our Q&A series, sharing insights and personal journeys of working life in the creative industry, we’re back with our next instalment speaking with team member, Miles Khan.
Born and raised in London of Guyanese and Slovenian heritage, Miles studied Graphic Design at Croydon School of Art. He joined our studio in 2018 as a Graphic Designer, during this time we’ve seen him confidently grow as a strong team player, building upon his experience across branding, print, illustration through to web, digital and packaging.
Can you tell us how you started in the design industry?
From an early age, I had an appetite for drawing, making and creating, which later led to an interest for street-art and the visual arts. After college, I opted out of further education and went straight into full-time work, where I gained invaluable life skills. Roles included; demanding work in the building trade and warehouses, to kitchen construction and spatial design. These experiences provided me with a strong work ethic and nurtured my ability to be adaptable to various scenarios.
I remained curious about all areas of design, challenging myself regularly by setting up self-initiated projects, attempting to learn creative processes as best as possible. Ultimately, I knew the only route for me was to go back into education and gain solid guidance plus training.
Being accepted into art school at this late stage was a difficult process, I prepared for interviews by cramming in online design tutorials and at home projects, building a portfolio which I hoped would catch the eye of an art school or University. After several attempts, my lucky break came when serendipitously (while working on a building site) I noticed an advert in a discarded newspaper, ‘enrolling now through clearing, design courses available at Croydon School of Art’. My eyes popped and I called them on the spot, however to my dismay was told the course was full. Undeterred, I turned up to the portfolio review day and waited hours for an impromptu interview with the head of design, Craig Burston. After presenting my work and giving him a very enthusiastic speech, he decided to give me a chance and made a space available on the course. The next day I quit my job, took out a loan and enrolled as a full-time mature student on a BA (Hons) degree.
I made use of every hour available at college, it never felt like work to me and I was committed to learning and exploring. At my time of studying, the School of Art underwent a rebrand, I felt this was an opportunity to assist the College’s marketing team with any and all design opportunities available, gaining invaluable early commercial experience and along the way, getting to know my tutors, the marketing team and technicians. By my final year, I was assigned as the design team leader to organise and brand the end-of-year show. My degree ended on a high, not only had I completed the course, I also received a special award for outstanding achievement, and subsequently offered a full-time position as an in-house designer, plus part-time print technician in the College’s marketing team.
What is your role in the studio and can you tell us about some of the work you do?
Over the last four years, my role has developed significantly in the studio, I have been encouraged to take charge of multiple responsibilities, working across a range of design disciplines, from idea-generation and concept development to problem-solving, and assisting the team with day-to-day activities. Projects include; identity, branding, illustration, photography, web, typography and print, as well as storyboarding for motion and UI/UX design. I also have a keen interest and an aptitude for creative packaging, paper-engineering and crafting prototypes.
The studio has been running wfh/hybrid since the pandemic, how has that changed the way you work?
When it was first announced we would be working from home, it not only drastically changed my routine, but my whole world in a big way. First few weeks were fine but over time I found it increasingly difficult to concentrate, suffering from extreme bouts of depression and anxiety. These traits are all challenges that I had encountered before, but it was amplified when working from home. After some reflection, and conversations with Roz and Nic, I decided to have a medical consultation. The outcome…I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Although hard to process, it all made sense when I found out — I had always known that I had operated differently to others around me, and on reflection it accounts for many of my experiences and challenges growing up.
Carrying out day-to-day life and work activities has changed for me since my diagnosis. I’ve developed more efficient ways of working without disruptions or self-induced challenges. Prior to this, there were countless times when I questioned myself as a designer, my choices, and where I fitted in as a creative — fast-forward the best part of a year (and then some) and we have found a flow that works. During this whole time, the team have been extremely supportive and I have discovered how to accept and work alongside my ADHD.
In my experience, there are many positives to having ADHD, however there are times when it must be managed — post-diagnosis I have put in place steps and measures that keep me on a good path:
- First route to change was acceptance; I think differently, I am different and that won’t change, every day will be a new challenge.
- Plan your day in segments and take breaks to keep focused.
- A lot of note taking; I keep separate notebooks for writing and sketching. I rely on them to recall every detail of the working day.
- Time management; however long you think something will take, double it!
- Communication; don’t be afraid to say you are struggling to a team member. Design paralysis can last a long time, by discussing work regularly it helps alleviate blocks that creep in and distract.
- Listen to lo-fi tunes, white noise or relaxing music with no lyrics.
- And most importantly, the number one rule, get that exercise in! Run, walk, jog, anything, but make time for this.
What’s your favourite part of the design process?
The initial stages, when we huddle as a team and discuss the brief. Exploring, sketching, developing, conceptualising. Then there are the moments when you realise you have something wonderful and the possibilities with the project really open up.
What are you listening to?
My current top three:
- Lost Arts by Marlowe
- Charmer by p-rallel, Sam Wise
- Club Tropicana by Wham
If you could turn back time and talk to your 18-year old self, what would you tell them?
Buy all the Bitcoin you can!