At Glug we’re always keen to bang the drum of creatives, makers, doers, tinkerers who do things a little differently. We’ve hence put together a series called “Glug Profiles” where we’ll be highlighting people from across the Glug world with different backgrounds and from all sorts of practices! To see more Glug Profiles, check out our news section.
Ade Mills, Designer from Bexhill
– Hi Ade! How’s it going? You having a good week so far?
Yeah, it’s not been too bad. Been very busy but been an enjoyable week so far working on quite a few different things.
– For those Gluggers who’ve never heard of you, who are you and what do you do?
I’m Ade Mills and i’m South East of England. I’m predominantly a graphic designer but like to try my hand at most creative things. Best way of describing myself i’ve come across is the word factotum, which basically means someone who does all kinds of work. Sounds a bit better than the ol’ jack of all trades line and sparks off a conversation. I’m currently working at a creative agency in Hastings, Playne Design as part of a close and dynamic team. Most people will know me from what I get up to in my spare time which is running The Design Jones.
– How did you end up doing what you’re doing now, then? Have you always dreamt of working in the creative industry, or what’s the back log here?
As far back as I can remember I’ve been fascinated by how people create media, from videos to graphics. I think a lot of it stems back to when I was heavily into skateboarding and being exposed to board graphics and videos, which always combined a variety of film making techniques. It wasn’t until I got to college that I started to view it as a career rather than a hobby. From there I studied A level Graphic Design and moved on to an FdA in Digital Media Design at the University of Brighton. Apart from the ambiguous title the first year really affirmed my choice of pursuing a career in the creative industry. As I moved into the second year of the course, however, a few things had changed with it which caused me to fall out of love with it and question myself a little. I’m sure many people on the verge of moving into the industry, and even already in it, go through this but I managed to stick through it and moved on to a BA Hons course. During this year a few events happened which really set me back in my motivation and I kind of spiraled quite a bit and at points was ready to throw the towel in. During that final year I decided to head out to OFFF for the second time, now in Barcelona, and for the first on my own. I took this trip as an ultimatum for myself, either I come away refreshed or that’s it for pursuing a creative career.
So, I put myself out there and messaged a few people on twitter, not really thinking if anyone would respond. Luckily for me a few people did, namely Jamie Mac, Matt Booth and James O'Connell. After spending the festival with them talking careers and hearing their stories and experiences it put my own into perspective. For them to have taken the time to not only talk to me but let me kind of tag along with them was incredible. I came away with so much more insight and respect for other creatives and a renewed sense of ‘I can do this’. It was also during this third and final year that I started working part time at the De La Warr Pavilion, one of the most creative galleries in the South East which exposed me to some fantastic people and opportunities.
Alongside this I was working at printers who were based in this fantastic building that housed some incredible creatives including the design agency Playne Design. This is where I first got to really see inside a design agency and to meet my now boss Clare Playne. Clare was brilliant at keeping up to date with what I was doing and just generally taking an interest in what I was doing. At the time I didn’t realise how important this was for me, but along with meeting Jamie, Matt and James, this pushed me to be more creative and get even more out of my comfort zone and pursue jobs. Before I could even look for a job, which I’d mentioned to Clare I was about to start doing, the Playne team offered to meet up with me and talk about what I was after. From here and a couple more meetings later they offered me a trial part time position. 3 and a half years later and I’m still really happy and enjoying my work.
– What do you get up to when you’re not working? Got any exciting side hustles or passions to tell us about?
In my spare time I run a podcast called The Design Jones where I get to chat to some of the most amazing creatives in the UK. I find people and their stories fascinating so the podcast is a fantastic way to hear them. It also allows me to give back to an industry that, in such a short time, has given me so much. I’ve been doing it for nearly three years now and the response has been fantastic. It’s 38 episodes strong and has nearly 32,000 listens. It also includes an episode with Nick Clement and Ian Hambleton, the epic co-founders of a little thing called Glug ;).
In terms of hobbies, I’m still a keen skateboarder but most of my very limited free time sees me on a basketball court. The two sports, for me personally, help me put things in perspective. The great thing about them is that they can be isolated activities or brilliant team / social ones. Something that for me feeds into my career and helps me not only be able to work collaboratively but also have the ability to focus individually. They also pull me away from a screen, the internet and the black holes of social media and youtube.
– On a gloomy, totally uninspiring and day, where everything just feels like an obstacle — what do you usually resort to in order to get your inspiration back on track again? Documentaries, things like Netflix’s Abstract: The Art of Design, talks like TED & Glug, and books. I find I can never really stop thinking about design, the best way for me to refocus is to step back and just absorb some information. It’s a way to half switch off, very little input needed from me but I don’t feel it’s a proper waste of time and procrastinating. Whether it’s refreshing myself on stuff i already know, finding out something new or just seeing someone do something I can’t, I’ll always try and find something however small to take away from them. Printed materials are also a great source of inspiration as you can immerse yourself within them whilst also having that tactile feeling. I’ve always got a few books on the go and find something new each time I go back and reread some of the pieces I have. At the moment I’m really loving the whole Do Book Co. series. It covers so much and the authors they bring in are brilliant, plus the format is easy to carry round and pick up quickly.
– And on the opposite end — where do you usually find your inspiration in the work that you do either in your dream job or as a side hustle?
People. Usually I stumble on a bit of print or digital work that I like and instantly want to know as much as I can about the individual or team that created it. The more I know about their work, style and processes the more I appreciate the solutions they’ve come to. Anyone that's pushing boundaries and not afraid to put themselves out there and learn or fail publicly I find the most interesting. The industry tends to be quite reactive so keeping an eye on the people rather than just the work keeps me in the loop and as up to date as I can be. It also opens up what type of things I’m exposed to so I’m always discovering something new.
– Ok, so let’s get a bit dreamy, shall we? If you were to swap job with someone else in the creative industry, who would this be and why?
There are a few people I could choose for this, James White, Hydro74, and Joshua Davis to name a few. If I had to choose though I would go for Gavin Strange. Not only does he get to work at the legendary Aardman Animations but his work ethic is insane. He’s never not working or pushing his skills to the next level. If anyone has aspirations of being able to try and do a lot of things, you don’t need to look any further than Gavin. From animation to design to film and everything else he’s tried his hand at it, he’s really become that ‘jack of all trades’ kind of guy.
- And… If you were given the opportunity to move anywhere without having to apply for any visa what-so-ever and we’d sort the packing for you — where would you go?
USA! Not sure if it’s the exposure to american culture through the sports and design I’ve always had a fondness of but the lure of America has always appealed to me. I’ve only ever managed to visit once but no doubt that I will again. I’d also finally get a decent nights sleep during the NBA season instead of staying till the early hours… From a working perspective though, I’d have to stick with the UK. It’s design heritage and the entire creative community is amazing. We’ve got some brilliant places that are overflowing with creatives, most of whom are working to make those areas even better. Places like Manchester, Bristol and Brighton are all established as great creative communities outside of London. I think we’ll start seeing more smaller towns attract creatives and become more relevant as people look away from cities, places like Hastings. Cities will always dominate but smaller towns have a lot to offer.
– Ok, and last but not least! Please give a link shout-out to 5 pieces of inspirational, or just plainly awesome, work that you’ve stumbled upon recently…
1. Gavin’s latest project for P.O.S. A music video he directed, produced, designed & Animated! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xhkzir7YANs
2. This incredible video of Jim Carrey painting and talking about why he does art: https://vimeo.com/226379658
3. The Berrics Push season 2, more specifically Brandon Biebels series: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40p7XXOD16I
4. The French Monkeys everyday open source project. A series of free C4D scenes just to help others learn. https://www.tfmstyle.com/everydays
5. Michael Bierut talking about designing for school libraries https://www.ted.com/talks/michael_bierut_how_to_design_a_library_that_makes_kids_want_to_read