2016: The Positives And Negatives Of Running A Design Studio

Oh how time flies when you’re having fun. Ok so not every day is fun when you’re working. But I enjoy what I do, so 2016 has flown by very quickly indeed.

Here’s a very brief overview running my design studio Pine in 2016; the successes, the fails, the great projects, and the not-so-great ones. I’ve decided to break it down into positives and negatives. Because guess what folks? It’s not always sunshine and rainbows when running a creative business.

Let’s start with a positive. In June, I took a trip to Norway and discovered a country that offered it all: A beautiful landscape, unlimited access to outdoor activities, great food and amazing people. Ok so it’s not directly related to running my studio. But it did allow me to take some much needed time off to clear my head. And that is incredibly important when you’re working hard.

On top of Gaustatoppen. The heighest peak in the Telemark region of Norway. Well worth a visit!

We had a rather unpleasant experience with a client. Work was completed, we did get paid (by a 3rd party who was managing the project) but we severed ties with the client, as they’re ethics and general lack of trust in our creative expertise would have created so much friction in the long run.

We’ve been providing work for the education sector for over a year now. We love it! The clients are great to deal with and the work contributes to a great cause; the future of our country!

We lost a really exciting client pitch for a much-loved Manchester brand that we thought we had in the bag. We produced some incredible concepts for a client pitch. They loved the work but I believe that they decided to keep the project ‘in-house’, which unfortunately produced quite a watered-down, ‘safe’ creative outcome.

We created some beautiful and successful Christmas cards to celebrate the city of Manchester. Our first shot at creating physical products for selling. And it certainly won’t be our last.

Our interpretation of Manchester landmarks for our 2016 Christmas card.

We suffered from something that a lot of creative studios suffer from; prospective clients not realising the value of design work to their business. That’s not to say that all clients see it that way, as we do work for some great people that value the work that we produce. It’s a shame really, and I hope that the creative industry can rally to change this in the future.

We launched into the world of photography. My business partner Arran has an amazing skill for shooting high-end photography. We visited the Front End North Conference in Sheffield to photograph a full day of web dev excitement.

We had a great day photographing at Front End North. And we met some great people!

Plans for next year
We’ve got a few exciting things on the cards for 2017:

  • A website re-design for Pine
  • An exciting new service offering for clients
  • Print based products to shift the needle and support the ever-diminishing world of print design.