I'm self taught, there, I've said it!

My journey in to logo design was/is/has been unconventional, firstly it was never in my career plan (not that I really had a career plan). I had never studied graphic design, I had never used any graphic design software, in fact, although I had heard of graphic design, I never really know what it was...

How it all started...

So, it all started in 2005 whilst working for a law firm as an IT support analyst/trainer in London. Some changes to the company meant that I would take on additional duties not related to my current skill set... and that was marketing - what's marketing? So anyway, I took on some marketing duties, nothing particularly glamorous and was given a copy of Adobe Photoshop (CS2 I think) that I didn't know how to use, luckily, the company sent me on a beginners course.


The defining moment was when I was asked "can you amend this 2 page flyer?"......errr ooookay!


I remember it like it was only yesterday. I was given a PDF to amend and it was quite painful, I didn't enjoy it, it took me ages to do, and admittedly it wasn't a great job...so I thought. However, they kept coming back for more and more and before I knew it I was using Adobe Photoshop to create flyers and brochures - note to any new designers, never ever use Adobe Photoshop for this kind of work! Anyway, I started to enjoy it, and that's when I took it upon myself to learn the fundamentals, the basics of page design and layouts - I knew I had to start from scratch. After 3 or 4 months I got a copy of Adobe Indesign CS3 and Adobe Illustrator CS2 and was sent on some beginner courses. I picked up the software fairly quickly, however, I was told many times, just because I know the software, it doesn't make me a designer. I knew that...

Early on in my design career I remember spending some time in the in-house design studio at work, it was full of designers that had degrees in design and years of experience, I felt out of my depth and uncomfortable. As an introduction to the studio, I had a meeting with the creative lead and he asked me, so what experience do you have of design? Where did you study? Err, awkward silence. I said I am self taught. I knew what he was thinking by the look on his face. I had to do some work for him that day, a fairly basic graphic but I never received any feedback. I came away from the whole day feeling a little deflated, like he didn't think I was good enough or more importantly had the right to call myself a designer. It made me want to get better, to prove to myself I didn't need a degree to succeed. Experience, yes, a degree, no!

I had something to prove to myself and that led to years and years of learning, looking at good design, but also looking at bad design. Any content I could find, I spent a fortune on books, I spent hours on youtube, logo pond, logo lounge, anywhere where I could find free content. I joined communities and forums which led me to Estetica Design forum.

Estetica Design Forum...

Estetica Design Forum was the first graphic design community I joined, it was created by a guy going by the name of Toon! It was full of all types of creatives, from graphic designers to web designers, copy writers, animators and so on. And of all levels too.


I watched the forums from a far, mainly the logo design section, reading over and over what people were saying, looking at the designs people had presented for feedback and trying to understanding the feedback they had been given. I hear a lot of people talking about the competition websites, Logo Sauce and Crowdspring so I decided to give them a go, not for the money, but to learn, to work on real projects for real companies. It's not something I do now, but it really helped me learn. I posted the designs on Estetica looking for feedback and found this beyond helpful. I'm not sure Estetica is still running, which is a real shame because it was instrumental in my design life and will be forever thankful.


I also kept seeing the name David Airey, who's David Airey?

David Airey...

The reason I have dedicated a section to David Airey is because he is one of the main reasons I started to design logo's. I love the simplicity and consideration in his work.


My goal as a designer is to reach the levels and standards that David has set, but in my own way and style. The first graphic design book I ever purchased was 'Logo Design Love' written by David. For budding creative entrepreneurs, it's a must read and should be on any designers book shelf.


I'm lucky enough to have spoken with David on a number of occasion asking for tips and advice, he has always be really helpful and willing.

The learning continues...


The years went by really quickly and I hadn't done anything with the logo design skills I had learn't. I wasn't comfortable competing with the thousands of designers and agencies out there. So I just continued to learn and to practice. Just watching, reading and listening. I can't say this enough, there is soo much amazing content out the for FREE, it's a shame not to make the most of it.



So today I have my own website, I am doing client work and I am getting enquiries whilst still doing a full-time job. As well as this, I have a mentor, my blog and I am getting good feedback on the work I have done from clients and some amazing designers.

With each client and with each piece of feedback I am improving. I am part of some really good communities where I am learning each and every day from some amazing designers.


And now and only now, I have decided to enrol in a graphic design diploma. It's simply through curiosity and the eagerness to learn new things, meeting new people and working in new environments. It's also good for networking. I am excited to start this in October.

And as for my business, it will grow, slowly, but in the right the way, with the clients I want to work with.


I wanted share my journey because I wanted people believe that if they work hard enough, they can do whatever they like and because I am proud of what I have achieved so far.

E  hello@jamesmortimer.co

T  07887884999

Maidstone, Kent, United Kingdom

Copyright 2020 James Mortimer. All rights reserved.