On The Table Read, the “Best Entertainment Celebrity Magazine in the UK“, Emma Venables talks about her art career and the work that goes into her graphic design and branding business, Emma Jayne Creative.
Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed Emma Venables about her life, the work that goes into running her business, Emma Jayne Creative, and what inspires her art.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
I’m Emma, from Weston-super-Mare. I started up my freelance design business after working in agencies and magazine publishing for ten years, as a way to work around my young family, whist also getting back to the job I love.
I’ve always loved design ever since I can remember, before knowing that the job existed – I would spend hours designing magazines on my parents’ first computer. Although I always loved Art at school, It’s always been the graphic design and layout side of things that I’ve loved doing the most, so I was thrilled to discover that I could make this my career.
Outside of work, I’m a qualified Trampoline gymnastics coach and love to do a bit of Somersaulting on the side. I love learning, so I have a range of hobbies including learning Spanish, Piano, Psychology, Crochet and of course, trampoline skills.
What is the name of your business?
Emma jayne creative
How did you come up with that name?
I wanted to make the business more personable, rather than a faceless corporate agency, so it’s very literally based on my name, alongside what I do.
I am the face of the business, and my personal work is what makes it unique to the others that are out there. We all have our own personal styles and way of working.
What services do you sell?
Graphic design, but specifically print-based design, as that’s where my passion lies. I help marketing professionals and business owners to pull everything together into something that not just looks great, but strategically appeals to their target audience.
I work on anything from logo designs and full branding packages, to corporate literature, flyers, brochures and stationery. I also design a lot of pull-up banners and other point of sale for exhibitions and shows.
When did you first start designing?
I’ve been freelance since 2017, but I actually started working in agencies when I graduated in 2005, so I have a few years of experience under my belt! I’ve been designing in some form or another all my life!
What inspired you to start designing?
I think it was always in me as a creative type, but the fact that I get to make a real difference to other business owners and to be able to give them a brand they can be proud of is such a great feeling.
What lessons have you taken to learn your craft or are you self-taught?
I knew straight away at school what I wanted to do – as soon as I got to the careers department to discuss the future paths we all might take – so I studied a National Diploma in Graphic Design at college, rather than go down the traditional A Level route, followed by a HND and BA(Hons) in Graphic Design as well.
I think it’s one of those skills you never stop learning though – you pick up things and improve your design eye all the time, and software changes always keep you on your toes. There’s always a new feature that you can learn, even after 20+ years of using it.
How has your work changed or developed since you started?
If I think back to first starting out at college, I’m a lot more commercially aware now, both in terms of what clients want, but also in what is a realistic deadline! (Hint: 6 weeks to design a poster is definitely not what it’s like in the real world!)
I’ll always be grateful to those designers and colleagues in my first agency who not only gave me that first break, but also took me under their wing and showed me how the commercial side works; how to set jobs up for print, how to talk to clients, how to spot any issues and crucially how to solve them.
Do you have a special workspace, or can you work anywhere?
I was lucky enough to be able to move house during the pandemic, which meant I could finally have my own home office and dedicated space to work, which is amazing!
Does music inspire or distract you?
I can find it distracting at times, as I’ll find myself singing along, when I really should be concentrating on that email or headline I’m trying to write!
Is your business your full-time job or a side hustle?
It’s my main job, although my core hours are during the school day to allow me to work around my family life.
Are your family and friends supportive of your creative work?
They are all really supportive of what I do, although there’s nothing quite like getting together with other small business owners now and again who completely understand some of the challenges that you might be going through. I’m lucky to have met some amazing business owners since starting up on my own, which I’m thankful that I can now call friends as well.
Do you sell online and/or in person?
Both – I am very active on LinkedIn, as well as having a presence on Facebook and Instagram. Social media has been fantastic for me, in allowing me to reach wider audiences, both nationally and abroad too. I’m been so lucky to have worked with clients in several other countries as a direct result from being on LinkedIn.
These include the US, Australia, Sweden, Dubai and Spain. I also love working with local businesses and have worked with several in my hometown and surrounding areas. I often meet these businesses face to face in local networking groups or through word or mouth locally.
How do you promote your business and find new customers?
As well as being active on social media and in local networking groups, I also make sure I’m visible locally in Google results so that people can find me in the area. I strive to give a great service and experience, and people can read my reviews on there to get a great idea of what it’s like to work with me.
Are you proud of your work and what you’ve achieved so far?
I’m proud of how far I’ve come from starting out 5 years ago – when you first set up in business, no one tells you about all the other hats you have to put on and become good at overnight. The Sales, Marketing, Social Media, Accounts… coming from someone who had famously avoided the limelight and client events, having to get out and about to networking events was certainly an eye opener, and I’d never have believed I could do it.
I’m super proud of the reputation I’ve been building, both through word of mouth and through the reviews and feedback I receive. One of my favourite quotes is from the Designer Milton Glaser who said: “There are three responses to a piece of design – yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for.” I always have this in the back of my mind whenever I send off a piece of work for review. When I do receive that WOW back, it makes everything I do worthwhile.
Do you have any goals for the future you can share with us?
I don’t want to create a massive empire, but if I’m still able to carry on doing what I love for the rest of my career, I’ll be happy. Of course, I’d love to reach as many businesses as possible, but the fact I’m having fun along the way is amazing.
Do you have any special career highlights you’d love to experience again?
I won the 2020/21 Prestige Awards Independent Graphic Designer of the year, which was a nice highlight in a tricky year, especially in the thick of the pandemic.
But honestly, one of the biggest highlights for me, has come when I’m out networking, and the majority of the room have spoken out about how they have worked with me – having them recommending me and hearing them say what a difference it has made to them is the best feeling and makes everything worth it. No one can say it like your own customers can!
Share all your work and social links so readers can find more:
You can find samples of my work on my website, along with links to some freebies and resources which may also be useful for those looking to develop their brand. I’m around most days on LinkedIn too, so connect with me for useful hints, tips and insights into all things branding and design.
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