A picture of our Deputy Head of Design Ryan over a picture of our logo and two hands reaching out to one another.

Connect With Us: Ryan Swinney

We have already introduced you to three of our lovely colleagues, so it’s about time you got to know another! ‘Connect With Us’ is a new series on our website where we invite you to get to know the faces behind Connect a little better. So far, we have met Liam, Ann and Claire. Now it’s time to say hello to Ryan.

Ryan Swinney, our newly promoted Deputy Head of Design, joined us in 2017 and has continually wowed our clients with his spectacular animations, graphics and design support.

Keep reading to learn more about Ryan’s career, and his helpful hints and tips for anyone else hoping to pursue a career in design.

Tell us a bit about your career so far?
I completed a HNC in Graphic Design and New Media at Forth Valley College before later graduating from Gray’s School of Art with an honours degree in Graphic Design.

I was then offered my first design role with a small publisher in Aberdeen after the boss took a liking to one of my final year projects at my degree show (a parody of the magazine industry funnily enough!). Soon I was working on three lifestyle titles, including the bi-monthly magazine for Aberdeen International Airport and a wedding magazine. I eventually set up the company’s bespoke design service where clients could acquire other design work outside of publications.

After 10 years of trying to learn everything and get as much experience as I could up north, I moved closer to home and was hired by Connect shortly after, working my way up from a mid-weight level to where I am today. 

What does your day-to-day look like?
Each day is entirely different at Connect as we have a large scope of projects that we all work on. Mine in particular can range from editorial and corporate literature, through to animation and campaign work and interactive digital design.

I’m still relatively new to my management duties, but I’m enjoying being there for the team, developing my managerial skills further and hopefully imparting some wisdom the way our Head of Design James and former Deputy Head of Design Mark did for me. Handling the studio’s schedule of work and assignments can be a juggling act, but it’s never anything to worry about with the team of designers we have. 

Why do you love your job?
As I mentioned above, each day can be dramatically different depending on the work flowing into the studio. My main role as a graphic designer is to problem solve and create a solution that not only the client is happy with, but I am too. I always consider myself a work in progress and within our field you’re never truly finished learning new things, with each project that comes into the studio bringing more opportunity to develop further as a creative. And for the days where you just have no clue about how to approach a certain project, bouncing ideas off the rest of the team or asking others for guidance can open your eyes further to the next steps.

What advice would you give to someone else wanting to follow in this career path?
Google is your best friend! You will never stop using Google, YouTube or Reddit in this field. They are extremely valuable tools for learning how to do something specific, or to help you understand where you might be going wrong. After 10+ years I still find myself asking Google “how to…” every now and again. 

Time management and an eye for detail are both key in agency life and learning how to prioritise what jobs come first will keep things simpler when the studio is busy, and always make the time to do a thorough check before anything goes to print.

If you’re just at the beginning of your career, working solely in-house or working freelance, the industry can be quite isolating and being able to connect with other designers through social media, events or forums is a great way to keep current with what is happening in the industry. Keep an eye out on what other designers are doing, what trends are current and what’s coming next and collate these in a way that’s handy for you to reference if needed. 

Best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Always keep a back-up! And then back it up again somewhere else!”