Running your own agency with Dan Edwards
With not only his own agency to run, but also many side projects on the go, Dan Edwards is a prolific creator who talks about doing more and being active in the design community.
I love the projects you and your team at No Divide has done. What does being a Creative Director look like for you, on an average day?
Thanks! Well my day usually starts off in the same way, I get up around 8am, have a tea, some breakfast and check a few emails. We have a team standup at 9:30, which, being remote means getting the whole team on Skype and having a chat about what we’re working on for the day.
I’m the only designer at No Divide, so 80% of my job is filled with UI design work and wireframing. My day is then usually broken up by meetings and emails! The only day that is different is Friday, which is a team internal day. This means we get a whole day each week to work on something totally different, right now we’re working on our own web app, which is really fun and challenging!
How important do you think it is for us as designers to give back, especially to those learning design and new to the industry?
Really important. We all got here by learning from others, even if you’re self taught you still read content from, and looked to the advice of more experienced designers. I love teaching and giving something back, especially to people just getting started. They have so much energy and love for the work they do. It’s really rewarding!
You’ve done quite a few side projects, including Oozled and your video show ‘Let’s Talk Design’. What motivates you to be an active side project creator?
Itchy feet! I don’t like to become stagnant or feel like i’m plateaued with work, so I’m always coming up with new ideas and things to design or be creative with. A lot of them don’t get out into the public eye, which sometimes bothers me, but equally it’s scratched that creative itch I had at the time and can really help give you a fresh perspective on other projects you have going on.
My main problem is that I get bored, so I often work on something in my spare time for ages, and then get bored of it (I’m trying to get better at that!)
What’s been the most rewarding thing since starting your own agency, No Divide?
Working with such a talented team! Honestly, the people you work with are everything! I feel an obligation to provide the team with fulfilling work and a happy life, so this keeps me motivated and stops me getting bored!
A happy team makes great work, which brings in more exciting projects. It’s a great virtuous circle.
You’re so active in the design community, whether it be speaking at events, talking on Podcasts, attending awards ceremonies — what is it about this that you enjoy?
People. Meeting people is hard when you work from home like me and don’t actually get to meet people in person that often. I’ve made great friendships online and there’s nothing better than hanging out with those friends in real life.
I was very shy when I was younger, I’d always be the quiet kid in the corner, so pushing myself out of my comfort zone to attend huge industry events and start speaking has led to meeting great friends who I’ve gone on to work with, or in the case of myself and Ryan — start a business with!
What advice would you have for someone who’s afraid to publish their own work?
Set yourself small but realistic goals and put work out regularly. Nothing is ever perfect and nothing is ever really finished, so don’t get hung up on that. By doing more you’ll get better and become more satisfied. The answer really is just to do more.
What’s one thing you’ve learnt about freelancing that you didn’t know when you started?
Wow, so many things! I think the naivety of the business side of freelancing was the biggest lesson for me! Managing cashflow, invoices, late payments, tax, accounting — all that ‘boring stuff’ that you don’t want to think about when all you want to do is create.
The best solution I’ve found to this is to work with someone who can be strong in your weaker areas.
This doesn’t mean you have to start a business with them. But for example, hiring a great accountant will solve many of these problems and in the long term save you money and give you more time to do what you want to be doing.