Joe Savery celebrates a decade in the Fishtank

Posted: 30.09.2021

Author: Fishtank

10 years in the Tank!

Not only was August the month of the Tokyo Olympics and the return Leeds and Reading Festival, but our Head of Creative Joe Savery celebrated his ten year work anniversary! In true Fishtank style, the team celebrated with doughnuts, balloons and a very special gift from Managing Director Damien.

We sat down with Joe to chat about how the industry has changed over the last ten years, his favourite project to date and his dream client!

What was your job title when you first joined Fishtank?

I was Fishtank's first Junior Designer, and the role was my first full time straight out of graduating from the University of Huddersfield. I was recruit number three - there was Damien, who at the time was doing the heavy lifting in terms of design as well as managing the workflow and bringing the projects in, and Barry, a developer who had been part of the team for a year or so before I started.

It was a strange start to my career, turning up to work in the basement of a semi-detached terrace in Mirfield with two guys that, now that I think about it, weren't much older than myself trying to make big things happen. It's fair to say we have come a long way. At the time I was just so excited to be getting paid to create.

My first project was to develop an identity for Wigan Warriors Rugby League Hall of Fame, which, as a huge fan of Rugby League, was awesome to be working on something that would have to stand the test of time. That was one of the main things that drew me to working for Fishtank, at the time its roots were firmly set in the Rugby League Community - even working with my home town club Castleford. I was soon working on the club’s programme, which to my delight, I could show off to my Dad and relatives when we turned up on the game day.

What has been your favourite campaign or project to work on?

I enjoy all creative aspects of my job; from brand development to digital campaigns and online platforms, but I would have to say Twisted Angel is a project that tested all my creative abilities.

I helped develop the Twisted Angel brand, managing everything from character illustrations, product design and packaging, to their online and digital presence. Having had touch-points on all design areas made working with Twisted all the more exciting, utilising the beer dark undertones throughout to create a brand that lived up to each ale’s character.

In more recent times we have created a portfolio of animated videos, which I have really enjoyed taking my design skills and applying that to motion graphics, diversifying our design output in the process.

I loved working with the City Taxis team, developing a brand launch video that showcased the firm's growth over the last 5 years and introduced the new branding to the local community at an awards evening. The 3 minute animated video that I worked on highlighted the company's values, growth and ambition utilising design assets from the brand refresh along with detailed illustrations showing the businesses full range of services.

Who would be your dream client?

I would love to work on anything to do with Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson - the man is a beast; he is smashing it on-screen 'literally', offscreen and has diversified into a number of product-related ventures over the last few years. I would jump at the chance to work alongside him!

Aside from my obsession with 'The Rock', I just want to work with like-minded people who believe in what they're doing and have the passion and foresight to push for the very best. That can be anything from an Artisan Bakery to large corporate groups that see the value in brand across all aspects of the business accompanied by the right visual expression.

How has the pandemic / remote working affected the creative/digital industry?

I'm sure the pandemic has impacted most creatives in many ways, but working from home was something special for me. I had not long since had my first child, Francesca, and remote working meant I got to see her grow and develop into a little person, which was such a huge positive from what seemingly felt like such a negative time.

That's not to say lockdown didn't have its challenges from a business perspective, as we work with several clients in the sports and hospitality industry that resulted in a drop in the level of work in the studio for the first few months.

On the flip side, I think many businesses saw the downtime as an opportunity to take a good hard look at how the company operates across the board, which led to a number of enquiries for branding and digital platforms. It also allowed us to look at how we operate and function as a business, looking at internal processes.

I had also taken on a junior designer and fully expected to be in the studio working alongside them as a second pair of eyes ready to answer any questions or discuss ideas - thankfully with Zoom and Discord, we managed to communicate with little to no real disruption.

We are always going to be more productive together as a team in one environment. We have been working in the studio for the last two months with a four-day week and one day remote, which has been great for the team's development and creative output. We have also started to take face-to-face meetings with clients willing to travel but have really seen the benefit of regular virtual meetings to support projects’ day-to-day running with clients across the world.

What are your thoughts on entry-level expectations for creatives?

The competition for jobs is very high at the moment, especially after the pandemic. Companies have more applicants now than ever before and this has led to a higher level of entry for creatives at a junior level, partly due to over-experienced applicants looking to get their foot in the door.

We have recently brought in two new fantastic Juniors into the business, and they fought off a large number of applicants. The learning curve is so intense in the studio, not to the extent of overwhelming new starters, but because most juniors have come to us straight out of University, they have been working to unrealistic time frames and seemingly out of reach projects and client base.

I know this first hand, having come through the same route myself -  the studio is a fast-paced environment, working on a variety of projects across a broad scope of industries with demanding deadlines and expectations. Ultimately, if they have a thirst for design and we can see they have the potential to learn and willingness to progress, we can bring them up to speed in no time.

How have programs like Canva affected the industry?

I think platforms such as Canva are a good thing for the industry, some designers may see it as a negative, but from my perspective, it shows how much of an impact design has on our day to day lives. The fact that small businesses are utilising template-based platforms to drive their businesses forward with design shows how the industry has evolved.

More often than not, the push to use sites like Canva help highlight the importance of design to the user as the business grows.

When they no longer have the capacity to keep up with the creative requirements of the business, they will then be able to work with specialists such as ourselves to alleviate such pressure and add value with continued support.

We are so honoured that some more special insight from Joe’s past 10 years of working in the creative industry was featured by Prolific North this September: https://www.prolificnorth.co.uk/features/2021/09/what-ive-learnt-joe-savery-head-creative-fishtank-agency

Keep up to date with Joe and the studio team on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linkedin in or check out our blogs for further insight!

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