From one beginner to another

A little background

Imagination & Invention

child like drawing of person with think buble, imagine
As a child I remember my imagination running wild. Movies were a wondrous thing and I alway dreamed of making my own. However I was brought up in the sticks by my loving, working class parents, which meant that my dreams were out of reach. So I had to make do with sketching.

The Two Stars poster design
Problem was I lacked confidence in my ability to draw, which lead to most of my ideas never getting very far. I have a younger brother and baby sister and our parents were the best parents in the World. Even though I hold where I live responsible for my dreams not coming true, the benefits of being brought up in such a beautiful and safe environment had major benefits.

School

sketch of a cuckoo
I didn't like school much, but I find myself repeating something my father used to tell me - "I wish I could go back". I knew what I wanted to do when I left school. I wanted to be a Graphic Designer. In my spare time I would design artwork for vinyl single covers and storyboards for the accompanying videos.
my first story board
I managed to get a few qualifications, but I'll never forget failing Graphic Design, which was actually Technical Drawing. I miss-read the first question. I was so determined to get a result I stayed on at school to take A Level Art and re-sit Graphic Design. I managed to get a pass second time around, but unfortunately in the first year of A Level Art I realised that the teacher wasn't taking it seriously, probably because he was due to retire. So one extra year was enough for me and I left school at 16.

Worked Hard

album cover
I started work at twelve years old. Every summer holidays I would work at the Beach Cafe, serving hungry and thirsty holiday makers. It was hot, extremely busy and we worked long hours. I do have fond memories though, but missed out on the fun that the summer holidays should provide a school kid. When I could find any spare time I would continue the record sleeve theme and design album covers. I even started thinking about animation and created a clay model of a character I had drawn. Unfortunately we couldn't afford a video camera to take it that step further.

sketch of small creature

Art College

After leaving school I decided my next step was to apply for Art college.
Due to the first letter of my surname I sat for three hours studying and drawing a stuffed ferret. Eventually I was called into my interview, where I was told that my portfolio was too Graphic based. The tutors explained that in the first year of the course we were to study all aspects of Art from Fine Art to Photography. Then in the second year we would concentrate on our chosen specialist subject, which in my case would have been Graphic Design.
I knew I had failed when they advised me to apply to another college 100 miles away. However due to my father earning just enough and the college being within a certain distance from my home town I was unable to secure a grant.
Unlike many of my school friends I knew exactly what I wanted to do after leaving school. This is where I became disillusioned and the design stopped for a while. My World fell apart.

YTS

What I really wanted to do, was mix Art with computer technology, so I decided the next best thing would be to try and get myself on a computer course. So I applied for a Computer Programming, Electronics and Office Technology ITec course. This was run by the famous YTS and would give me a City & Guilds certificate. I felt I had no option, but yet again I failed to impress in the interview. In desperation I managed to secure a place at a different location. Rather than specialising in the computer sector I had to accept the electronics course. This was also the time of my life when I left home. Travelling back and forth would prove to be to demanding. I had no option and ended up living in a filthy, smelly Bed & Breakfast. At the age of 17 I remember not taking it too well.
The last two weeks of the course included a work placement, which I managed to secure in the same area as the college.

Repairing & Selling

I managed to find a much better B&B and Mrs. Jones' cooking was to die for.
Working in a domestic electrical shop I started out assisting and learning how to repair brown and white goods, which I really enjoyed. I also enjoyed being taught by a great guy, who was really good at his job.
It didn't take long before the boss of the shop thought he knew what was best for me. He transferred me to sales and deliveries. I eventually decided this was the wrong path and I felt a need to follow the path I had intended. I handed in my notice after two years of work and moved back home.

photo of the ocean

Unemployed

Being unemployed wasn't fun. I decided to spend my time creating a portfolio case as I couldn't afford one. The 'Job Club' helped me with applications and phone calls. I finally managed to persuade the same Art College that turned me down to give me a five minute interview. I even found time to produce my own business cards and letter head, thinking I could start up my own business if my application to Art college was turned down.
During the interview, which was held by the head tutor he also mentioned how my work was Graphic based (deja vu). Then he brought the Graphic Design Tutor in, who um'd and r'd. Eventually a decision was made and I could have kissed the both of them. They accepted me on the second year. As my work was Graphic based they saw no point in me studying the first year.
Why oh why didn't this happen the first time around?

My Family

Just before I was due to begin my studies I met my wife and what a beautiful thing she was and still is. I was also introduced to my beautiful daughter, who was four at the time. After six months of dating I moved in and we had some great fun. Things were looking up. I was in love and I was going to Art college.

Art College 2nd chance

my first screen print
college storyboard


pencil drawing of interior of house
I learnt so much in the twelve month I spent on this BTeC course. Mainly thanks to the new Graphic Design Tutor; Gwyn. I had met Gwyn previously, when I spent three days work experience at a magazine publishers where he was the designer. This guy was talented, which made me feel much more comfortable studying the course. I was introduced to painting with gouache, screen printing and story board production.


ink drawing of view through door of house
Working on the Apple Mac made me realise that this was what I truly wanted to do. I also got the opportunity to add a GCSE in English to my armoury, in preparation for applying for further education. Even though I struggled with life drawing, I began to see an improvement, mainly due to the tutors driving us to practise, practise, practise.


concept idea for Michael Jackson tickets
mockup of Michael Jackson ticket


Our imaginations were pushed to the limit. One project given to us was to design a concert ticket for a famous person. The idea was that if someone won a ticket, rather than send a simple sheet of paper, how could we push the limits to come up with something special.

Moving Away

I'd been accepted on a HND course at Cheltenham & Gloucester College of Higher Education. I was still in love, but money was tight. I managed to get a job in a local Supermarket stocking fruit and veg, which helped a little. I'd also managed to secure a grant which would pay for my digs at college. This would be Halls of Residence for the first year and shared accommodation or B&B for the second year.

Before commencing with my studies I thought it only right to propose my engagement to my girlfriend. It was done on the morning of my first day at college, before I dropped her off at work. I won't pretend it was easy. It was tough (heart rendering). I would drive down to college on a Monday morning and every two weeks on a Friday I would drive home to be with my loved ones for the weekend. We did this for two years and my girlfriend would send me money in the post to help, which she didn't have much of herself, especially considering she had two mouths to feed.

college storyboard
The course was perfect, 'Design Communication in Electronic Media'. It covered mainly design with the aid of Apple Mac. We also covered photography/developing, animation and filming/editing. We even produced a short film which went on to win an award for best concept and best lighting. Story Boards become my thing and I produced two which were unsuccessful when entered into a competition.



steam poster steamer poster steaming poster steamy poster

college storyboard competition entry
Things were made a little difficult when the head tutor advised me that I couldn't afford to visit home as often. This resulted in my home visits taking place once a month.
But we managed to get through it and I Graduated.


graduation cap

Work

event leaflet 1 event leaflet 2
After two months of searching for work locally I managed to secure a job with a Marketing company that had just established a branch twenty five miles from my home. I was the head Graphic Designer, which wasn't difficult as I was the only designer at the branch. We produced work for the local authorities and worked on a major historical exhibition. I really enjoyed my time there and the work we produced was top class. This was credited to the team. Unfortunately it was short lived, as the parent company, which was based in London lacked in providing financial backing the our North Wales branch.
As everything came to an end I was offered a position as a Graphic Designer at the London branch, but due to my mistrust I declined and ended up unemployed for several months.

Birth

The Birth of my son was a wonderful moment. I witnessed the caesarian and as any father will tell you it was very emotional. I won't include the photographs.
My girlfriend had lost a great deal of weight and she had been extremely ill during the pregnancy, which seriously put her off having any more kids.

Master Plan

I worked for a short while for a distribution company. This involved driving a refrigerated lorry locally, providing various outlets with a selection of meats and pies. Let's just say I hated the job and it didn't work out.
This was around the time that DRIVEN RAGE was born.
Then I came up with a Master Plan.
concept menu bullet
concept menu steadson
It all began when I worked as in the Allocations department at a Holiday Resort - 09:00am - 04:00pm and then on the night shift at a Hand Tool distribution company - 05:00pm - 11:00pm. I grabbed a couple of opportunities to use my design skills. For the Holiday Resort I pushed the boat out by designing menus for the restaurants. These weren't just A4 sheets of paper but cut outs of themes. The one they really liked was for the Wild West Diner. It was in the shape of a wagon, which sat on the table. The menu was actually the canvas that covered the top of the wagon. It was actually an A4 menu rolled up and held in place on top of the wagon.
In the six months that I held these two jobs I had learnt that there was an in-house design department at the Tool Distributor and my first step was to secure a full time position in the Warehouse. Thanks to Kevin this was accomplished. The second step was to try and make the big bosses aware of my talent.

Married

I decided it was time to Marry the love of my life and she didn't refuse, Phew! It wasn't extravagant and we paid for the lot ourselves. It all happened on a stunningly hot day in October and it was one of the best days of my life.

Graphic Designer

Things seemed to change after we were married. We moved house and after ten months in my new job my opportunity came. I re-designed a Warehouse plan and again thanks to Kevin he passed the work onto the owner of the company. Thanks to Arnold, Tina and Ian I spent two days a week helping the Marketing team out with advertising, merchandising and leaflet design.
Eventually I managed to secure a full time position within the Marketing department and soon I was working on my beloved G4 Mac, designing leaflets, packaging and even slide shows for the companies Sales Conferences. This included being present at the conferences as the technician.
Towards the end of my time there I volunteered to design the companies website. Due to involvement from various Directors the finished product did it's job, but from a designers perspective it wasn't the best. However considering it was my first effort it wasn't bad.
During my time as an in-house designer I ruptured my achelees tendon playing squash, which meant spending twelve weeks in plaster. This gave me the opportunity to transfer DRIVEN RAGE into a Word Processor. This was when I learnt all about screenplay formatting and the story that lived in my head finally made it onto paper.
After ten years of staring into a monitor for eight hours a day I decided a change in occupation was necessary. An opportunity came my way and I went for it.

Work

photo of sun rise

I currently work as a Park Manager on a Holiday Park in the most beautiful part of the World. Being able to work both indoors and out is a breath of fresh air. Responsibility is extreme, especially considering I work 9 to 5 and am then on call. But I really enjoy the challenge. I still managed to design a website here and there, plus my design experience comes in handy for in-house posters and notices. Most of my spare time is spent learning the new exciting 3D and web design software and slowly making the stuff in my head come alive.

photo of sun set


'THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY'
Thanks to the people I met along the way, especially the tutors at Bangor for giving me another chance. Thanks to Gwyn for inspiration. Thanks to the family from the tool distribution company for believing in me. Thanks to Geraint Trigg who joined me for the Birth of DRIVEN RAGE and inspired me to carry on with the concept. Also a big thanks to G for being the only one to read the first Draft and give some positive feedback. Oh and of course thanks to my mum, dad, brother, sister, wife and kids for putting up with me.

As far back as I can remember my brain was always creating. My imagination was always working overtime. However due to my location and financial circumstances there wasn't really a future for my imagination, so I just carried on like everyone else - school, college, work. You could say I felt I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The workflow I was really interested in was using computer technology as my tool to bring the stuff in my head to life. The problem was that when computers were first made commercial they weren't really built for the artist.
Then I was introduced to Apple Mac, way back in 1990. This was it, the link I had been waiting for. That was until another hurdle reared its ugly head: money, so I just carried on like everyone else.

Even later as a Graphic Designer money wasn't great, mainly due to my location. But eventually circumstances changed and I managed to acquire a G4. It did the business, leaflets, corporate stuff. That was until I discovered ZBrush, which really didn't like my G4. So I had no option but to ask my plastic friend for some money. I also managed so save a little and eventually got my Mac Pro and ZBrush, as well as a couple of other apps. The sad thing is, it took me Forty years, which is a difficult age to be learning this stuff. But I'm determined to get to the end of this thing, so when my time comes and my life flashes before me, I can proudly say "I gave it a go".


Never regret anything you have done in life. Just use it to make yourself a better person.