Tell us why you're the best applicant in under 50 words
Three years ago I did 2 international marketing internships, before I knew I wanted to work in graphic design. I can use that experience to succeed during the WGI, 25-year-old-me can learn from 22-year-old-me. I’ll throw myself into designing, and exploring the cities.
Give us your bio in under 500 words
My name is Sam Bray. I’m 25 years old, I’m a graphic designer and I live just outside of Manchester, England. I am looking for a mix of adventure and industry experience, and so am excited to be applying for WGI.
I spent my childhood drawing in the margin of my school books - doodles and cartoons and lettering. The final dissertation of my history degree was about etched images of battlefields in 1630s Germany.
After graduating in 2016, I wanted to work abroad, and so did some marketing tourism internships in Algeria and Amsterdam. Useful experience included; working with a consultant to improve an IT system, filming a vlog in the Sahara with very little equipment, building a social life in a new city. These were opportunities to work out what I wanted to do.
After returning home, I was accepted onto a Mountbatten marketing placement in NYC. But I decided instead to train as a designer, to learn the practical skills, and set myself up for an active creative career.
In 2019, I completed a design qualification, and for the corona-filled 12 months since, I have been improving my skills and applying for internships.
1. What's the most courageous thing you've ever done?
If courageous can mean ‘willingness to face uncertainty’, then my design career has been that - I haven’t given up my design ambitions even though I don’t hear back from almost all the internships I apply for. It is normal to feel disheartened in the situation of a grad in the last 12 months - we can’t go to meet our friends, many studios are overwhelmed by applicants - but I am still excited about creating. My fall project of a Risograph football programme has reaffirmed that excitement. It is based on ‘Call of Duty’, so I sent 20 copies to the developers in LA, asking for an internship. The WGI programme would allow me to translate this persistence into the professional, structured experience needed to start a career in design.
2. How are creativity and innovation related?
Creativity isn’t a magic pure originality. It’s taking bits of existing ideas and combining them, reframing them. In graphic design that could be with well-researched moodboards - the innovation comes from forming a new concept, even if it uses elements from old phenomenon.
In 1700s Europe and 1800s America, innovation and creativity combined to lead to massive social change, with patents for a new plough or lamp or rifle. As long as the product is not too reliant on its peers or predecessors, then it can creative and innovative. When designers in 2021 are briefed to create an innovative brand, as long as they research thoroughly and are aware of the pitfall of trends and cliche, they stand a decent chance. These brands can then go on to create change in society.
I’m interested how graphic designers 100 years ago worked with the limits of letterpress printing, and how design will be informed by new technology in the future. I hope that on the WGI I can talk to people around the world and find out about ways that technology is aiding innovative creative concepts.
3. Why do companies need clarity and creativity?
Without clarity, no-one will understand what companies are selling, or where to buy it.
Companies need creativity because humans are attracted to new shiny things. FIFA 21 is more exciting than FIFA 08. Creating new content or products is essential to maintain or grow a business. But even more important, new ideas and concepts that invoke wonder and excitement create an attachment between a customer and a company, which leads to more emotional attachment.
4. You have 30 minutes of free time. What do you do with it?
Right now? I would continue to fill out the draft copy for these questions because I work best in short bursts before deadlines. And I need to get a move on, the deadline is next Monday, and 4000 Graphic Design grads have been fine-tuning these answers for 5 months.
If the free time was just a hypothetical question, I’d answer idealistically. I’d visit the set of the sitcom ‘Community’ in 2009, as they’re filming their second season. I could nervously wander around the set, see a bit of filming, and maybe say hello to Donald Glover when he goes to the catering van.
5. What is one risky and bold goal in life you have? Or, if you could dedicate your life to solving one problem, what would it be?
My risky and bold goal in life is not to be boring. I’m not saying I want to be a wacky circus entertainer who brags about how many full moon parties he went to in Thailand. I just don’t want to be stuck in an office job like the character ‘Tim’ from the UK Office.
I can achieve this goal by going outside my comfort zone, and giving to others. I think WGI is a structure that encourages that. By having to adapt to working in a new company, and explore a new city, I will be motivated and able do more ‘things’ per week.
6. Explain your creative process
The value of my design course at Shillington was to learn a basic order to approach design briefs. The basic process is as follows:
Takes notes on the briefs, then research the company/sector/product, then brainstorming/keywords, then moodboards, then sketches/thumbnails, then work on a couple of directions to work into a ‘stage 1’ presentation. If you’re at work, set time limits. If you’re doing personal work, take a relaxed pace.
This isn’t gospel, but it gives me a list of task to work through, that ensure I don’t get distracted. I think it’s valuable to be flexible and adopt new techniques from colleagues.
One interesting technique I saw was from an online lecture from Peter van Blokland, who uses A3 tracing paper to layer up sketches and refine logomarks with every additional layer. I am applying to WGI to learn about other people’s creative process and adopt their ideas, and use the advice my mentor would give me. I use a lot of archive imagery in moodboards, and am working on a resource for Graphic Designers (on my website) that shortlists the most user-friendly archives for designers.
7. What is the best advice that you have been given?
A practical piece of design related advice. One day before class, we were discussing the stresses and frustrations of the design process before class, and our tutor Dave Bird justified it very practically. Designers need a systematic step-by-step process, so that when something goes wrong - the execution doesn’t work, or the client doesn’t like it, or the colours feel wrong - you can just go back one step and reassess. Having an organised process allows you to work through the inevitable hurdles.
This is good design advice for me because this process of constructive feedback and starting moodboards again was difficult to understand at first. But it’s not inefficient - as a Junior Designer this organisation will help me clearly communicate the core concept.
8. What is your definition of creativity?
I think creativity is when people come up with ideas and make something. It’s a trait that everyone has to an extent. Making something with a bit of nuance and surprise is the most effective way to be creative. It’s the reason that ‘Community’ is funnier than ‘The Big Bang Theory’. It’s the reason why wars are so deadly.
Businesses can use creativity to make profit, and we all need to pay rent, but it is more important that individuals make things for fun. Very often in online media, if you create for yourself, and accept failure as likely, then someone will find enjoyment from what you make, because it is sincere. Businesses that support this sincere creativity, rather than inflict forced monetised fun, can then be associated with this enjoyment.
9. What 10 songs are on your favorite playlist right now?
1) Nick Lutsko - Where did the Gremlins go? [Catchy Twitter novelty song about Gremlins and Capitalism. His creativity works because he commits to the character and the production quality is high.]
2) Marcus King - Too Much Whisky [Banging upbeat tune]
3) Charlie Daniels - Trudy [the Youtube comments for the Marcus King song all said that it was very closely based on this 70s country rock song]
4) Ryan Montbleau - 75 and Sunny (Live) [A pretty catchy indie tune about being hungover]
5) Jason Isbell - Goddamn Lonely Love (Live)
6) Sturgill Simpson - Livin the Dream (Cuttin Grass version)
7) King Curtis - Games People Play
8) Amy Winehouse - Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow
9) Garrett T. Capps - Goodbye San Antonio, Hello Amsterdam [I like it just for the lockdown nostalgia of my time living in Amsterdam]
10) Townes van Zandt - Dead Flowers [chilled, end-of-the-film cover]
I owe most of my new music choices to the ‘Discover Weekly’ playlist algorithm from Spotify - it feeds us all these personal-seeming niches. I wouldn’t inflict the more emo or banjo-y stuff on a shared office playlist. I once made the mistake of suggesting Sturgill Simpson in my minimalist-everything design class and I don’t think it went down that well.
10. How do you want people to remember you?
That I’m funny, or nice. That I’m more useful, than useless. If I can show that I’m doing something productive or generous then I think that’s a solid legacy.
Passport is valid for next 12 months
Which country issued your passport?
Have you been convicted of a crime and/or a felony? If so, what was the offense? State the city, country, and date.