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Narrative’s Creative Lead Chris Pescod knows a thing or two about great design. Chris is one of our longest serving Narrators, and has grown from strength to strength to become an expert in branding, flawless web design, print, animation and more. Today we ask Chris 10 Questions about life as a Narrator, and what makes him tick…

1. How did you end up working as a creative lead?

From a very young age I loved drawing and I loved cars. I would always be drawing Ferrari’s, there was just something about the colour and the shapes that really fascinated me. I then started to think about who are these people that are designing these amazing cars I was drawing. It wasn’t until I was in secondary school when I could apply my drawing to something related to design.

I think I was in year 8 where I had a Graphic Products term in Technology. It blew my mind! I then selected the subject as one of my GCSE’s. My teacher Mrs Atkinson had so much love for design and the way she passed on her knowledge really made it so fun. I learned about logo design, magazine design and started to visualise with markers.  I knew while is was working in this class this is what I wanted to do for a living.

It was expected after my GSCES by my school that I would move into A Level Engineering as I got an A* for that in my exams. But I informed them I had been offered places at New College Durham and Newcastle College to pursue Graphic Design. I attended Newcastle College for a total of four years, first completing my ND and then my HND in graphic design then it was out into the real world!

2. Why did you choose Narrative and how would you describe your journey as a Narrator?

I worked with Kieron for a number of years at ncjMedia and we got to know each other really well. A few years later he left to set up the creative arm of then ‘Press Ahead’. We kept in touch constantly and a couple of months later he asked me to come on board. It was a no brainer to join! We worked so well together previously and I knew how much Kieron wanted to make ‘Press Ahead Creative’ work; how could I not be involved in this exciting project? The journey has continued ever since.

When I first started the business, I came in as a designer. As I settled in quickly and found my stride within the agency and I was promoted to Senior Designer. I began to be exposed to bigger clients and more in depth projects which were so enjoyable – I worked on some brilliant stuff.

As the agency grew my role began to adapt with that and I took on the studio manager role. I had to make sure worked was correctly briefed, that it was trafficked through studio and most importantly, I ensured it was complete on time. Whilst doing this I was still working in my senior designer capacity. More recently with changes within the agency I have moved back to much more of a design focused role now.

3. What do you enjoy most about your role and working in design?

The main thing I love is that I get paid to design things! That is amazing! Some people having really boring jobs, I have always felt I have been so lucky to go to work every day and love what I do. As well as a job it is a major passion of mine. Over the years I have been fortunate enough to work with some very big brands such as Berghaus, Mattel, Sage Gateshead to name a few, which can be really demanding, but very rewarding as well. I also get to work some really great people. From the various staff members I have worked with over the years, to clients and suppliers. So basically I just love it all!

4. What inspires you and gets your creativity flowing i.e. how, when and where do you come up with your best ideas?

That’s a hard question as it can totally depend on the project. Sometimes and idea can come from a little sketch I might have scribbled down or from something someone has said in a meeting. There are so many resources available now as well you can get so much inspiration very quickly. I really like to read, it has so much content available and it focuses heavily on print which I love.

Books are also a good source of inspiration; while I don’t have the biggest collection, what I do have is very much focused on the design I really like. Last but most certainly not least, I really like to take inspiration from the people I work with. I think the team surrounding you is your most important tool in your arsenal. They are able to tell you if something starting to look good and more importantly, if something is pants!

5. What’s been your biggest career achievement to date?

When I’ve read similar pieces to this, people tend to say it’s the awards they have won, which is totally fine. I have been lucky enough to receive an award or two, but this isn’t what motivates me. I love getting as deep as I can in a project, planning it out, working with the client, doing the design work and really seeing the project grow until it’s complete and you see your work visible to the public. Then getting the reaction from the client at the end of the project is just brilliant. I’ve been involved in a lot of projects like this and they tend to stand out as personal achievements to me, which really cemented my decision to go into design. 

6. What tools, processes or techniques do you swear by to do great work for clients?

Adobe Creative Suite is the main piece of kit I use on a day to day basis. From Indesign to XD! It really is a fantastic tool for designers. On thing I do swear by are grids – I love a good grid! They are the foundation to your design. I love setting up a blank document and getting the margins, gutters etc, then see how the document starts to come to life when you start designing the pages.

There is also one test I like to do when working on identities, I call it “the tote bag test”. If you would be happy to have your work printed on a tote bag and walk around town with it you are usually onto a winner. Some people use the tattoo analogy but I prefer the tote bag! 

7. Do you have any favourite campaigns, brands or designers that you admire, and if so, who are they and what do you love about them?

My absolute favourite campaign is the Apple iPod silhouette campaign from 2003. I know there have been loads of fantastic campaigns since then, but there is just something about the simplicity of this campaign that just make me love it! The bright colours, silhouette character and of course the famous white Apple ear pods became instability recognisable, and cool. You started to notice people on the street with the white ear pods and it made me really really want an iPod. Which worked as I purchased a Gen 3 iPod for I think around £500 at the time!

Thinking about my favourite brand, that’s an easy one. Since going to New York a few years back Shake Shack has been a brand I have really admired. Its humble origins, and dedication to making the best burger is a great story (yes, I also have the book). The whole look and feel the brand, the iconography is just so clean, yet has a flavour of an old style diner about it too.

This coincides with my favourite designer, Paula Scher who designed the Shake Shack logo. An inspirational designer from Pentagram New York. Her identity work is just amazing and she has worked on some of the biggest brands in the world. She really got me into the importance of typography, and really gave me a different perspective on how it can be used. I was lucky enough to attend a Friedman Benda design talk during lock down with Paula Scher and Michael Bierut which was absolutely amazing,

8. What would be your advice to someone looking to break into the industry in a design or creative based role?

I would say keep your portfolio up to date and try to have a diverse mix of work in it too. Knock on as many doors as you can, pester and email people to get your work in front of them. Try and get some industry experience as the design world is pretty different from college and university. I worked for free in a small agency for around 6 months and got some great experience.

9. What do you enjoy getting up to outside of work and does this influence your designs in any way?

Most of my time outside of work is spent with my two children, Jack and Emily which is fantastic. We are always out and about or building or drawing something. Aside from this I have a real passion for music, both listening and playing on my guitar. I just recently built my first cigar box guitar, which I would say was a success! I follow the New York Jets – that’s American Football just in case anyone didn’t know. This season is definitely going to be our season and hoping we make the playoffs with our exciting new Quarter Back! 

10. What would you say has changed since you started in the industry?

One thing that comes to mind is everything is now integrated. What I mean by that is things like software are all available in one package. I used to use Photoshop, Quark and Freehand etc. Now Adobe One Suite software which includes their own version of these. Things like animation and web design software is also much easier to get hold of and use.

Digital has really taken over now too. When I started, everything was predominantly print based. Now with so many social media channels, websites, VOD and outdoor digital screens etc, there is opportunity to get your message on so many different platforms. With this you are also able to target certain sectors etc and really tailor your message to your audience which is amazing!

If you’d like to learn more about our amazing design services, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today for a chat with Chris! You can also find out about our Head of Creative Tony Lowe, who makes up our design dream team here at Narrative.

This post was created on 18th June 2021
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