Why honesty is better for everyone in the creative industries, with Alison Haigh

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.

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