Alison Haigh on her unusual start in graphic design and why honesty is better for everyone in the creative industries artwork
Creative Boom

Alison Haigh on her unusual start in graphic design and why honesty is better for everyone in the creative industries

  • S4E83
  • 1:02:46
  • July 4th 2022

We speak to many people about how they got into graphic design. But we never expect anyone to admit that a dislike of their handwriting would set them off on this creative path. This was certainly the case for Alison Haigh. Realising computers were the answer to crafting neater typography, she fell in love with design. And today is Design Director at Accept & Proceed, a respected studio based in London that's behind identities for Dickies and campaigns for Nike.

Alison has had quite the journey to get here. After graduating from the University of Brighton in 2009 – at the height of the global economic crisis – she had internships at NB Studio, Small and various other agencies. It was typical of that era – jobs were scarce, and Alison did all she could to get onto the ladder. Her determination paid off as she landed her first role at Nelson Associates. She later joined Proud and spent three years building skills and experience there before securing a dream role at Wolff Olins as a senior designer. In 2018, she became part of the team at Design Studio, but two years later, she found her way back to a smaller agency via Accept and Proceed.

After spending 11 years in the creative industry, Alison realised there wasn't much support for the difficult "middle" – that part of our careers between graduation and the top of the ladder. So in 2019, she launched The Middle School to provide honest advice and practical skills to designers in the middle of their careers. By helping more people stay in the industry, realise their potential, and become better leaders, Alison hopes it'll be a small step towards tackling wider industry problems around diversity and mental health. In this episode, we talk about this and much more, including how she feels the industry is becoming more honest and vulnerable and why that's such a good thing.

Season Four of The Creative Boom Podcast is kindly sponsored by Astropad Studio.

Creative Boom

Want to hear the inside scoop from other artists, designers, illustrators and photographers about the highs and lows of being a creative?

The Creative Boom Podcast is a show that brings you candid conversations with new and established names from around the world as we discover more about their creative journeys so far. Bursting with insider career tips, honest business advice and incredible stories, each episode offers warmth, wisdom and inspiration to help you in your creative profession.

Hosted by Katy Cowan, the founding editor of Creative Boom, a platform she launched in 2009 to celebrate, inspire and support the creative community, particularly the underrepresented.

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Katy Cowan
Founder of Creative Boom

A journalist, writer and broadcaster, Katy Cowan is the founding editor of Creative Boom, one of the UK's leading platforms dedicated to the creative industries. She launched her magazine in 2009 with a mission to celebrate and support artists and designers, particularly those who are underrepresented. Today, her site delivers inspiration, insight and advice to seven million creative professionals every year.