Art and design have always been a passion of mine, and after finishing school I went on to do a foundation course in Art at Loughborough. The nine month foundation course went quickly, and before moving further with my education, I decided to take a gap year, working at a factory in Hinckley, before spending 3 months in Uganda, Africa, with a well-known charity. On my return from Africa I started a 3 year BA Hons in Scientific and Natural History Illustration at Blackpool and the Fylde college, where aside from learning the traditional techniques of illustration – mainly watercolour – I was taught to use digital programs on a Mac.
After finishing my degree, I supported myself through doing portraits of animals, mostly horses, which were commissioned by their owners. Throughout this period I became more interested in the digital side of design, initially learnt on my degree course, and started experimenting more with applications such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. It was acquiring these skills that landed me my next position in a publishing company, where I was setting book content and designing covers. Importantly in this role, I was also charged with updating the company website through its CMS (content management system), and this got me interested in the workings of websites.
My experience gained at the publishing company in dealing with large volumes of content, implementing proof corrections, and of course, the design and layout side, landed me a position at the Leicester Mercury on a niche magazine called Leicestershire and Rutland Life, a role I still occupy today in a smaller capacity as a freelancer. My interest in websites, and how they function was still a strong interest of mine, and I developed some simple websites aided by the Adobe Dreamweaver application. Wanting to get down more into the code of websites, several years ago I enrolled on an Open University course in web application development. This went well, and I enrolled in a further two, gaining a distinction in one of these, while putting my new skills into practice.
The technology behind web application development moves incredibly fast, so I find the need to constantly keep up with changes in web browser support and testing compatibility, but this is something that I embrace. What can be achieved with web technology is vast and depends on the budget, timescale and needs of a client. I largely develop sites now with WordPress, due to its flexibility and the support. The CMS behind it is invaluable to clients that need to modify their sites regularly, and I can model this to their requirements making it as simple or complicated as needed. Because of the skills I’ve acquired in digital artwork, I can add design elements to my websites that make them fit the visual aspect expected as well as the functional.
Alex, Jungle Design