What a magnificent question!
We had a cup of tea with Juli, our Senior Graphic Designer, and Laura, our Graphic Designer and Illustrator to find out all about what goes on in the crafty and creative world of our in-house Design team.
Lesson plans for titchy toddlers, complete with Enormous Crocodile height chart.
What are you responsible for at the Roald Dahl Story Company?
Laura: I am the Graphic Designer and Illustrator. Alongside the other members of the Design Team, I support and offer creative on a variety of work for both internal and external use, from Licensing to Partnerships, Publishing, Entertainment, HR, Legal, Marketing – you name it!
Juli: Our team make sure our brand principles and style are carried out in every design, and that we communicate the brand in a visually cohesive and imaginative way. The scope of projects at RDSC is quite diverse, ranging from style guide creation and asset management to posters, banners, newsletters, lesson plans and bespoke printed goods. I work alongside Stephanie, our Creative Director, on the concepts and ideation for those projects and bring the designs to life with Laura's help.
What is a typical day at work like for you?
Laura: Our days often vary depending on the projects we have on the go. It could be anything from working with Quentin Blake’s wonderful artwork on licensed products, to illustrating a large bespoke mural, to crafting the design of a limited edition book, to working on brand presentations and infographics, to reimagining Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in art-deco inspired menu designs – or even seeing how many crocodiles tall you are by checking the scale of your The Enormous Crocodile height chart. It’s a hugely varied role with the opportunity to work on some truly exciting projects.
Juli: I’ll start with a quick e-mail check (to make sure no one is waiting for any urgent replies from me!) then head to Slack (our instant messaging tool) and catch up with my colleagues - there’s always an amusing story or a cute puppy picture to enjoy. I'll chat with my team about our evenings, as if we were in the office by the coffee machine - but actually without the fancy coffee. Then I’ll do my individual planning for the day, on paper and Asana (our project management tool), and often have a group call after that, depending on the project I’m working on. While the outcome of the projects can vary a lot, my daily routine can be very similar - usually involving asking stakeholders questions to make sure I understood their needs, reference or archive research, project planning, sketching or making mock-ups, and working on the actual design options. I often have calls between departments to get new briefs, or check in on a project’s progress. Once I get to the proper design part of the day, I’ll use Illustrator, Photoshop or InDesign, depending on what suits the project I'm working on that day.
Art-deco inspired menu designs complete the table at One Aldwych's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory afternoon tea.
What are the design team like?
Juli: Our team currently includes me as Senior Graphic Designer, plus Stephanie is our Creative Director and (of course!) Laura is our Graphic Designer and Illustrator. We are very happy to have welcomed Anna, our new Senior Design Manager, to the team in January, too.
Laura: It’s a complete delight to be a part of the Design team – they are such friendly and talented people with a real passion for the brand and design itself. Questions, ideas and imagination are always welcomed and encouraged. It’s a lovely environment where, even within the constrictions of lockdown, we still make time to catch up virtually with a cuppa and share designs that inspire us.
What project are you most proud to have worked on?
Laura: It’s difficult to pick one! One of my favourite briefs each year is the Roald Dahl Christmas Gift, where I have had the pleasure of curating and designing some very special limited edition books. From the cover designs to the paper stock selection, colour palettes, printing techniques and working with Roald Dahl’s biographer, Donald Sturrock, for his lovely contextual pieces, it’s an absolute treat to work on and one to treasure.
Juli: Although every single project has its importance, I can say one that I’m very proud of is the James and the Giant Peach, with Taika and Friends project we worked on earlier this year. This was a storytelling campaign, where RDSC and Partners in Health joined forces in response to the Covid-19 pandemic crisis. Our team was responsible for the look of the campaign, creating assets for our digital channels. The director Taika Waititi, and a bunch of his famous friends, read James and the Giant Peach across ten instalments on YouTube, and the campaign raised a great sum of donations for Partners in Health, making it possible for them to help many families in need across the globe.
The Roald Dahl Christmas Gift for 2019; limited edition prints of previously unpublished chapters of The Witches.
What do you enjoy most about working at the Roald Dahl Story Company?
Laura: In my childhood I treasured Roald's stories (and Quentin Blake was a total rock star for me as an illustrator) so it’s a dream to be working with Matilda, Charlie, James, Mr Fox, The Enormous Crocodile – all the characters that gave me so much inspiration and courage growing up. The company itself is full of friendly and creative people who are always happy to chat and share their wealth of experience - every day is an opportunity to learn about something new.
Juli: At RDSC, the values of Roald’s stories are taken very seriously and followed by everyone – kindness, heart and imagination are at the core of all we do.
What advice would you give to an aspiring designer?
Juli: A good combination of curiosity, observation and willingness to try is always a great starting point. To be able to take on new challenges with open arms is a crucial attitude as well; to challenge yourself and gain new skills as you go. Also, try not to focus too much on one single design style, or reference, or way of doing things – the more knowledgeable you are of what’s going on in the world, the better you can design for it.
Laura: Getting to grips with the wonderful world of Adobe is invaluable – Illustrator is a daily go-to for us, along with Photoshop and InDesign. Search for things that inspire you, sketch if you love to sketch, ask questions, and overall, just let that passion shine through and keep creating!
If all of that has got your brainbox buzzing, take a look at our Design vacancies here.