Introducing our Junior Designer, Paul Simpson, with a few questions to get to know him and hear about his background and passions.
Before OXygen, where have you been working for the last 5 years and what on?
Prior to joining the team at Oxygen, I’d spent much of my time over the past five years as a student, working towards my degree in Graphic Design from The University of Edinburgh. No two years on the design programme were the same, and it involved a lot of bouncing between different specialisms, mediums, techniques, and tools, across numerous projects. It was the perfect time for me to explore and experiment, and it’s really helped me to tighten up my practice and focus in on the specialisms I really enjoy.
When I graduated in the summer of 2021, the industry had been left in quite a bad way by COVID, making it super difficult for graduates like myself. I took a chance and decided to have a go at freelancing for a year. It definitely wasn’t a smooth ride at first, and given that I’d only just started out, I didn’t always have a consistent stream of projects. Still though, I picked up a few great clients, worked on some super exciting projects, and learned some really valuable lessons about the business side of the design practice.
What originally made you want to become a designer?
From a young age, I was always very creative, whether that be drawing characters from cartoons I watched as a kid or designing conceptual album covers for music I listened to as a teenager. One constant within my life is that I’ve always had some sort of creative output, and so over the years I just naturally built my experience and developed the skills that pushed me towards becoming a designer. Design is the profession that best suits my personality, but I’m also fortunate enough that it’s what I really enjoy doing, so work never really feels like work. I’m able to make a positive impact for people through what I do, whilst taking enjoyment in every moment of it.
What is your approach when starting a project?
When starting a new project, I like to kick things off by building a solid understanding of both the project and the client. Who is the client and what do they do? What are their needs with this project and why are they undertaking it? I find that having all the relevant information laid out in front of you from the get-go really helps to get early ideas off the ground, and it also removes any ambiguity that can crop up. You start to understand precisely what needs to be done, which in turn opens up avenues that can bring you to a viable solution.
Beyond that, I have a very methodical approach to my practice. I like to explore and experiment in an iterative manner, continually developing ideas until they run out of steam, and then moving on to the next one. By being thorough and exhaustive in these early stages of development, I’m able to create a wide variety of solutions, which I can then pull from and continually refine until I have sound options that can then be presented to a client.
Which project you are most proud of and why?
The project I’m most proud of has got to be discoverME, a collaborative project I worked on for Saltersgate School in Dalkeith during my time at ECA. Saltersgate had approached the design school with a brief to design a pupil award scheme for their disabled students, with the aim of creating a set of collectible cards that would be awarded to students for completing everyday tasks – a strong focus was set on building an experience that was desirable and rewarding for students to be a part of, with the goal of building their confidence to navigate through everyday life independently. I teamed up with Elizabeth Forrest to design the identity for the scheme, which we named ‘discoverME’, as well as a prototype set of 28 cards. We pitched our work to Saltersgate, who subsequently chose our designs to be developed to completion and deployed within the school.
I’m proud of this project because it opened my eyes to the power that design has to make a real difference for real people, and completely transformed my motivations as a designer. My work on this project might have encouraged a pupil to push themselves outside of their comfort zone, to try something new, and to grow their confidence and independence. It’s a very rewarding feeling to know that something I’ve worked on has had that sort of positive impact within someone’s life.
Who is your dream client?
Like many other young people, I’m quite passionate about sustainability and climate action, so naturally I gravitate towards those sorts of causes when I think of a dream client. The work of organisations like The Climate Emergency Fund and WWF becomes increasingly important as we continue to damage our environment. I also really like the work of The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, who are championing the progressive circular economy framework to businesses and institutions across the globe – I’d say that they would be the closest thing to a dream client for me.
These inventive solutions aren’t limited to the for-purpose sector either. Designers like Neri Oxman are blurring the line between science and design in the pursuit of solutions to the climate crisis – even bringing about entirely new fields like Material Ecology, which aims to establish a deeper relationship between a designed object and its environment. Not so much a client, but I’d also love to work with Neri Oxman!
What are you excited about achieving with OXygen?
I’m a bit of a newcomer to designing within the for-purpose space, so at the minute I’m working on gaining greater insight into the sector and a better understanding of its needs. Generally though, I’m most excited to play a key role in Oxygen’s continued mission to design a better world, using my skills and experience to elevate the solutions we create for our clients, as well as working to expand our client-base further, so we can help even more great organisations realise their goals through conscious, effective design.
Paul is a multi-disciplinary graphic designer, joining the OXygen team in May 2022. He holds a BA (Hons) in Graphic Design from The University of Edinburgh and is passionate about all things design and technology, exploring how these can be used as a force for good. His main areas of interest lie in climate action and sustainability.
Paul brings a rich and playful design process with him to OXygen, creating effective and meaningful solutions that thrive across digital and print. He has spent the past few years working as a freelancer alongside his academic studies, designing for a diverse range of clients and working across specialisms like art/creative direction, branding & identity, digital design, motion graphics, print design, typography and web design.