Making ends meet: designer Craig Oldham

After studying graphic design at Falmouth and stints at a number of agencies in Manchester, Craig Oldham started his own studio in the city in 2015. We talk to him about why money is no measure of creative success and why “it’s not a crime to be skint”

Despite running a business for several years now, it’s safe to say that in-depth financial planning isn’t number one on Oldham’s list of priorities. Here, he discusses his discomfort with equating money with success, and why you should treat your business like a baby.

Creative Review: How would you describe your general approach and attitude towards money? Has that changed over time?
Craig Oldham: I really don’t buy into that self-myth-making thing of being a creative and money [equating to] success. More than anything, I think money is just a means to do things. I’m sure other people will judge me on that but it’s not a crime to be skint, do you know what I mean? Even when I had pocket money as a kid, I never saw it as something I had to save up. I just thought ‘I’ve got loads of fucking pocket money, what am I going to buy with it?’

It’s definitely not the thing that drives my business, it’s not even in the top five reasons why we take work on. Money causes me a great deal of anxiety, I worry about it a lot because I’ve got a studio and I want to work with other people, but they deserve to paid fairly. In a way it’s formed a rod for my own back that I just have to live with really.

Craig Oldham, Banner image; the designer’s studio space in West Village, Manchester
Craig Oldham‘s new book Oh Sh*t… What Now?: Honest Advice for New Graphic Designers

CR: What was your approach to setting up your studio financially?
CO: I would never, ever encourage anyone to do what I did.