Ahead of England's World Cup semi-final match, we get the lowdown on who FourFourTwo's Art Editor is tipping to win. The proud Geordie provides some light relief to take our minds off of tonight...we'll be watching through our hands.
First of all, which team do you think will win the World Cup?
Had you asked me this question at the start of the tournament, I would have said Germany or Spain. However, I did fancy England to do well – quarter-finals maximum. That said, I hold my hands up and have to say I completely got it wrong with Gareth Southgate. He has more than proved me wrong about all my preconceived ideas about him and I owe him an apology. Sorry Gareth...oh, and England vs France final. England to win it.
Which team do you support?
I support the world’s greatest football club, the mighty Newcastle United. Always have, always will.
What made you want to work in the magazine industry?
I never really knew what I wanted to do until I did my work placement at school, where I was placed on the art desk on the local paper The Evening Chronicle, making tea and watching grownups have fun and be creative. Other suggestions I managed to dodge included an Airport Trolley Collector and working in a sports shop…because I like sport.
After perfecting everyone’s brew and a week of work, I realised this was pretty good fun and not like a proper job, but that might have been down to the fumes from the Cow Gum (cracking cultural reference for all you kids out there!), so I made my mind up I wanted to pursue graphic design from there onwards.
All of this twinned with seeing my dad come home from work every day from a job he hated and collapse on the sofa exhausted really just hammered it home – if I'm going to be working all day, I may as well try and get a job in something I love doing, which is, to this day, a luxury I wish my dad could have experienced during his working life raising his family.
I always loved magazines and used to sit and read them while my mam went food shopping, Thrasher magazine being a favourite along with Your Sinclair computer magazine and various music mags – a window into a different life really. I wasn't aware of it at the time, but maybe that was the start of it all.
Can you chart your journey from when you started out to your current position?
The abridged version goes like this: My university final show work was shown at The Young Designers Exhibition in London and I was subsequently asked to come down to London for various interviews. I was offered a job working for Autocar at Haymarket and worked my way up through the ranks on a number of other Haymarket titles. I was later approached by Red Giant Projects, a small design agency, to work on various magazines and projects. Daily deadlines were a very steep learning curve!
Years later, Haymarket approached me to return to redesign Stuff magazine and then I finally got my hands on FourFourTwo mag – the reason I took the job at Haymarket from the get-go – and have been here ever since.
Do you have a go-to work outfit?
Not really, although I cycle to work every day and, being from Newcastle, I wear shorts pretty much all year round living in London…or until it starts snowing. Staple footwear is Adidas Gazelle trainers. They cannot be beaten in my eye.
What do you turn to when you’re on deadline – tea/coffee/snacks?
Coffee. 11am Coffee Club is mandatory for me, although I'm coming round to tea. I don't really snack, but I do have a sweet tooth.
What’s the most unusual situation you’ve found yourself in because of your job?
Too many to mention through the years, but off the top of my head: Looking after a young Lewis Hamilton before he could drive on an Autocar photoshoot; spending a few hours in a hotel room chatting with Pelé and wondering how to address him; being shouted at by Neymar; being mocked by Pep Guardiola; and fixing David Beckham’s hair on a photoshoot. Playing on the pitch at Wembley and scoring the winning goal in the final and being presented with my winner’s medal up the steps by Alan Shearer will not be topped. It was a career highlight for a lifelong Newcastle United fan.
What would people be surprised to know about your job?
That we don't talk about football all day or watch football all day – and the standard of football player on the team is far from Premier League standard, however we can hold our own. Any challengers?
Walk me through your typical day.
Up. Breakfast. Drop the kids off at school. Cycle to work. Shower. Emails and catch up. Designing and planning features and photoshoots. 11am Coffee Club. Lunch. More designing. Cycle home. Pick the kids up from nursery. Pick up my partner from train. Home. Bath the nippers. Story time. Bed. Food. TV and relax. Bed. Sleep.
If you didn’t have to sleep, how would you use the remaining hours in the day?
I’m a night owl – or I was until I had kids (twin girls Molly and Eve), so that’s changed. I would probably do some more illustration work or tinker with other design ideas I have for other things outside of my day-to-day work.
What is the last photo you took on your phone (at time of interview)? Why?
The last pic I took on my phone was a picture of my girls taking in the views from the top of Richmond Hill in the sun.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Not entirely sure. I don't really feel a lot of guilt for things I like, to be honest. Maybe singing songs from Moana with the girls behind closed doors.
Whose phone number do you wish you had?
Bob Mortimer – one of the funniest people on earth and he's from the North. I would love to go for a pint with him.
What’s the worst piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
To not follow a career in graphic design and to learn a trade instead, because "You can't even draw that well.”
What/where is your happy place?
I have a few happy places: On Tynemouth Beach in Newcastle or on Ingrina Beach in Portugal with my partner and kids around me and a cold beer in hand; or swimming; or being on my bike, which clears my head.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I came very close to representing the UK at springboard diving in my youth. Also, I hate football (joke).
What would be in your Room 101?
Sunderland in its entirely.
Introvert or extrovert?
Optimist or pessimist?
Film or television? What are you binge-watching at the moment?
One thing I miss a lot since we had our children is the treat of going to the cinema. We used to go a lot so I would have to say television now. The model of watching TV has changed so much now. Imagine waiting week after week to watch a serialised show – I want it all now and will binge-watch with the best of them.
We just finished the third season of The Bridge, which is a fantastic Scandi police drama. However, if I had full control of the remote control in our house, it would be documentaries on 24/7. Last doc we watched was Wild Wild Country on Netflix – a phenomenal story. What amazed me most was how on earth hadn't I heard about this story before. It’s worth watching.
Sweet or savoury?
Can I choose both...?
Morning person or night owl?
Night owl. I am not good in the morning
Tea or coffee?
Coffee, although I read Johnny Marr’s autobiography and he suggested a white tea (Bai Mudan), which is very refreshing, and frankly, if it’s good enough for Johnny Marr, then I'm interested.
Emojis – cool or cringey? Which emoji do you use the most?
I despise emojis, especially in design. However, it’s probably the clappy hands one or the hart. A good well-timed gif is always a winner.