Considering Tom Lovell ‘fell into’ graphic design after taking psychology, business studies and sculpture in his sixth form at school, he’s not doing too badly. One of his college projects called Keep Us Busy – which he conceived with fellow Lincoln School of Art & Design graduate Shaun Hughes and which saw the pair set up a studio in a shop-style window inviting all and sundry to give them work to do – won at D&AD New Blood and the pair are currently working on turning the project into a travelling college work-shop. Lovell is also spending his summer driving round the country from his home in Cambridge attending the placements he’s rather diligently arranged. He’s only had half a week off since May.
Lovell cites the likes of YES studio, Marque, Hudson Bec, Co-op and Hofstede as design studios that inspire him and his love of print is obvious from the body of work in his portfolio. Interactive direct mailers created for a Ctrl+Alt+Shift brief; the end of year book created to showcase the work of his course year group as they approached graduation; two different design ideas for the same abstract novel Flatland – created in response to a college brief; and also a clothes catalogue created for a client that needed the job doing overnight – are all thoughtful pieces of print design brimming with good ideas.
“They called me up on a Tuesday afternoon and asked if I could do the catalogue,” Lovell recalls of the clothes catalogue job. “‘When’s the deadline,’ I asked. ‘Tomorrow morning.’ I always bring this to interviews because it shows that I can work with print specs to deadline and turn around quick layouts.”
The interviews Lovell has been to have mostly been for placements and he recognises the need to gain experience of work environments. “Placements help you to work out where you want to be (geographically as well as job wise) and what kind of company you would feel at home in and what you actually want to do,” says Lovell. “I’ve been to a few placements now and the places I’ve been to have treated me entirely differently,” he continues. “The first place I went to in-between my second and third year, The District in Cambridge, paid me, put me on live projects and were really inviting and really nice people – which is why I’ve just been back there to do another placement. I’ve also been to a couple where they just chuck you in a corner and don’t speak to you for the rest of the day – and they don’t pay you.”
Actually these experiences are key to Lovell’s development and are shaping his hopes for the future. “I definitely think about what I want in the long run,” he says. “Most people, I think, dream of having their own studio. I’d love to be in the position to run my own thing but I’d never do it on my own, I see no point. Eventually, starting up with someone else is the goal and having a small to mid-size agency. But not necessarily with another designer. I’d love to start up with someone more business-orientated than me. At the minute I’m very aware that’s what I want to do so I’m trying to figure out plans and goals that will help me to achieve what I want in the long term. I need direction to dedicate!”