Work Stories

I've been a freelancer, or a business owner/partner/director way more than I've ever been an employee.

Every role or gig I've ever had has been something I've created for myself.

Even when I've been hired to a regular full-time position, I've ended up shaping the role to myself somewhat more than the other way around – which is perhaps why those spells as a salaryman (to borrow the Japanese idea) have been short-lived, 24 months in about 23 years of working life.

Conventional CVs just don't really work for me, and I've never had much interest in keeping them up to date. If that's what is helpful to you, dear visitor please hop over to my LinkedIn profile which is a little more conventionally structured.

This site is also not intended to be a HIRE ME thing. Recruiter scraping algorithms won't find much to feed on here…

Studies, projects and early career phase

I studied BA/hons Photography at the University of Derby between 1998 and 2001. I loved working with large format camera and film formats, and did a series of cityscape and architecture photography that I animated and projected onto wall-sized screens in darkened rooms. (Architecture photographer is the career path not taken that I still sometimes wonder about!)

The single most significant thing I did at university was form a small collective with my friends on the photography course, that we called Katapult. We DJed, promoted nightclub events, created live projections and flyer designs and had a bit of a messy but fun time.

When we all graduated together in 2001, we took the opportunity to convert that slightly messy collective project into a proper design, media and branding agency. I worked there as Senior Designer and Art Director until December 2007. What started as five mates in 1998 is now, 25+ years later, a small but incredibly successful Themed Attraction Design agency of around 25 people.

Overland Travels

In February 2008 I left the UK to scratch my travel itch. By December that year, I'd made my way overland from western Europe to Morocco, then back through southern Europe to the Balkans and Istanbul, on through to Iran, Pakistan and India. I flew just the once from Mumbai to Hong Kong, then took trains again through China, Mongolia and into Russia, then home again on the Trans-Siberian (actually the Trans-Mongolian as I started in Beijing).

I did a bit of work while I travelled. In Istanbul I worked for a friend's architecture firm creating a brand identity package. In Pakistan I did some pro bono identity design work for an Australian charity, and for the owner of a Canadian Humanitarian Aid agency I met by chance. Ultimately though, the digital nomad lifestyle wasn't really why I was travelling, and by the time I reached India I wanted to focus properly on travelling again.

Nottingham to Berlin / Graphic Designer to Email Developer

My move to Berlin in February 2009 was the catalyst for three enormously significant changes in my life. Becoming an expat was just the first and quickest, most obvious change.

After a forgettable year doing whatever came my way, in March 2010 I had the enormous luck to start working with Jan Middendorp – at the time a freelance editor and consultant for the font retailer MyFonts. He hired me to help him finish producing a book, and almost as an afterthought (at least that's how it seemed to me at the time) he asked if I could help him make MyFonts's two monthly email newsletters. And with that, I was on my way to becoming the specialist email developer and project leader I am now.

Becoming a parent happened almost in parallel with the shift in career path. My daughter was born in April 2010, and it's perhaps not surprising that I pursued the work that felt financially viable (MyFonts paid very well) even if I was what Germans call a Quereinsteiger and very much learning on the job. I never quite abandoned graphic design, or writing and photography, as a professional activity but I really zeroed in on email and email technologies as my specialist niche.

Parenting also brought with it a new attitude to organising life and work. Raising kids meant being present and available, both for them and my partner, and as we both wanted a working life and a life as a parent, we structured our weeks such that we both had better opportunities to balance our roles. That taught me to be way more rigorous and disciplined with my working time, and much more intentional and focussed. Even now, with the kids generally less needful of parents around all the time, and my partner and I separated, I try to maintain solid boundaries – at least as much as a fully remote freelancer working for clients in multiple time zones can!