We had the absolute pleasure of having Lottie Harmer with us in the office for a week of work experience last week. Lottie was a great addition to the team, and we’re gutted that she isn’t a permanent addition. She kindly wrote a blog post about her week at Single Malt, so keep reading to see what she got up to…

I am a Year 10 student at QES studying Art and Design GCSE. I know that I want a career in something quite creative, so I decided that I might get some work experience at Single Malt Design in order to investigate whether design is a career that I might be interested in. Here’s what I got up to during my one-week placement. 

Monday

I entered the office on Monday at just before nine o’clock and was introduced to Kelly the Studio Manager. She showed me around the building and briefed me on general Health and Safety, and showed me through policies etc. After this, Rob spoke to me about Single Malt and what they do. I liked learning about the history of the company and how it has developed from John on his own, to a small team of brilliant Designers doing big projects for notable names such as Channel 4. I was shown where my desk for the week was and introduced to Meg, a Designer who is on a University placement for one year. Although I had been slightly nervous before entering the office, I was put at ease instantly as the people there were extremely friendly, the environment and atmosphere was very relaxed and chilled – though really hardworking. I felt that I was very lucky to be spending my work experience in such a nice environment where the people are kind and funny, and great to work with.

I spent the morning shadowing Meg whilst she worked on a project for Dockerill Group, breaking up lots of content with images. I found it really interesting how she used her eye to make the content look interesting and aesthetically pleasing, and found it particularly interesting how she used the design software to move different sections of each page about change backgrounds, and fit in content etc.

After this, I spent some time reverse searching some images for Meg to use. This involved taking an image from file and putting it into Google in order to search for larger versions of the same image. This was so that Meg could spread out the images over a whole page and for them to still be high resolution.

Tuesday

I shadowed Meg for some time in the morning whilst she did some design work on a new website for Morecambe Community Sports. She showed me some of the different stages that the website had been through in order to get it to the stage at which it was at. It was brilliant to be able to ask her questions about how she used the software and built different bits of the website. It was a great experience to watch a website being designed as I knew nothing about this process beforehand. I therefore found it extremely interesting to discover some of the stages of design – such as the wireframes, which I had never heard of before. 

In the afternoon we discovered that we had been asked to think of possible new names for a high-profile brand with an existing client. We were working to the specification that the new name had to have certain things in it to match their new brand the team were working on. It was much harder than I thought to come up with a name for a company which sounded good and fit well with the brief – but we managed to come up with a few options to be discussed with the rest of the team on Wednesday. 

Wednesday

I was introduced to Kate on Wednesday, the Marketing Executive for Single Malt. She was very friendly and kind and was really great to talk to. I asked her about how she had got into working for Single Malt and she told me about her background as a student from Lancaster University. It was great to hear about how she got into working for Single Malt and to see how it was different from how others in the company got into design or marketing. 

A little later I asked Bekkie about how I could improve my art sketchbook and she gave me some great advice on how I could improve some of my pieces – such as a response that I had done to Banksy. She also helped me to set up a Pinterest account and showed me how I could make boards and add pins to them to help with inspiration with my project. I was very grateful of the help that she gave me as she gave me good ideas of how to do things and how to add extra work in later in the day. Bekkie, Kate and I talked for a little while about our experiences of art classes at school as we had all taken art at either GCSE or A-level. It was very interesting to hear about other people’s experiences of the course and how they differed from mine. I also found it interesting how having a good or bad teacher can massively impact whether or not someone enjoys and gets on well with the course. 

After this Bekkie, Rob and Kate looked at the suggestions for the new name for the new brand. It was good to see how the team worked together to brainstorm and come up with new ideas. It was also interesting to see where they took inspiration for their ideas and how they approached the fairly tricky task. 

In the afternoon I worked with Bekkie and Kate on a tender for a new project, an exciting organisation soon to open in Manchester. We worked on ideas for messages that would help to set them apart from opposing similar businesses, and sell their differences and their benefits. I helped by doing some research into the messages used by competition and the selling points that they used. This was so that Bekkie and Kate could think about messaging that would make their client different and attractive compared to the others. It was fun thinking about ways in which we could market this that were inventive and creative, and would set it apart from the others. I also watched Bekkie, Rob and Dish (Kate’s nickname) trying the alcohol flavour chocolates which had been gifted to them by Channel 4 after some of the work that they had recently completed. It was highly amusing to see their reactions to the alcohol, from which I gathered they did not enjoy in a chocolate!

Thursday

First thing in the morning I was introduced to Jade, a freelance Designer who comes into Single Malt sometimes. We carried on thinking about new names for the previously mentioned brand and were able to come up with more suggestions.

After this, I talked to Jade about how she had come to be working for Single Malt and her route into design. I really enjoyed speaking to her as she was very friendly, and it was very interesting to hear how she had chosen her options based on becoming a Designer. Also that she knew quite early on what she wanted to do in life. It was very interesting and enjoyable to talk to her and Dish about different careers and degrees etc. It was also interesting to hear about the careers and choices of other people that they knew. 

Later in the morning the whole team went into the meeting room to discuss ideas about the new tender. We discussed different messages that could be used as the main focus for a campaign or for artwork, and it was brilliant to be able to give ideas and to hear other people’s ideas too. After the meeting, Dish and I stayed in the meeting room to think more. It was good to be able to put our heads together and to come up with new ideas. 

After lunch I spent some time working on this blog and then spent some time shadowing Bekkie whilst she worked on designing some sample artwork for the pitch. I really enjoyed watching how she used the colours that had already been used in the branding but in a way that was new and fresh and looked really good. I found how she made different designs of certain pages so that she could pick the one that she liked the best very interesting but thought that it made sense completely. I loved the way that she used shapes as part of the background to make it very visually interesting and pleasing. It was great to shadow her as I loved seeing how the ideas that had come out of the brainstorming we had done earlier in the day (and the day before), had fed into her designs. It was great to see the pages that she was working on come together. I thoroughly enjoyed watching her work. 

Towards the end of the afternoon I carried on with this blog. I then also watched Jade trying a Gin chocolate out of the box and watching everyone try a tequila chocolate. It was very funny to see as the responses were interesting. I also tried a couple of chocolates but of course not the ones with alcohol in! We then walked around the office to get our steps up before I carried on with this blog again. 

Friday

During the morning of the last day I shadowed Meg again whilst she amended some floor plans for an apartment block for an existing client. It was useful to see how she approached the task, setting up the basis of the document and then copying and pasting for the different floor plans and editing each one. I also watched her whilst she worked on creating icons for Easybox, an Italian storage company. I enjoyed seeing how she used shape drawing tools to draw the different elements of the icon she was working on – such as a padlock. She taught me how to change the thickness of a line by altering the stroke of it. 

Before lunch Rob took me for a visit to Absoluxe in Kirkby Lonsdale so that I could see one of their clients and the brand they had created in situ. It was brilliant to see how the design had been used in all of the suites and how it fed into the interior design and the décor of each suite.

During lunch Sarah visited with five-month old Freya. It was great to meet another member of the team even though she was on maternity leave, and Freya was adorable too. The team spent some time catching up and then got back to work at just past one. I spent some more time shadowing Meg but this time it was whilst she was working on building a new logo for Morecambe Girls F.C. She was using photos from the internet as research so that she could use them as reference for shapes associated with Morecambe. It was fascinating to see how she used shape tools again to gradually build up the fairly complex shape of the promenade. I loved seeing how she used colour and layers to give the impression of the sun setting over the water, and just from watching I learnt about the use of opacity to allow colours of other layers to show through and to give effects such as the setting sun in an evening. It was a joy to shadow Meg as I found the work that she was doing was so interesting and I loved to see how she used different features to make the design really aesthetically pleasing and beautiful. 

In the late afternoon I finished this blog. During this I also watched Meg and Rob chasing a butterfly round the office trying to allow it safe passage out of the building without harming it. Sadly, they were unsuccessful but hopefully the butterfly found its way out in the end!

I have really enjoyed my time at Single Malt because the people are really kind and friendly and because I have loved seeing the work that they do and how they go about it. It has been a very eye-opening experience and very useful as well. It has been great to immerse myself in the world of design for a week and I feel that I will treasure this experience for a long, long time.

Thank you Lottie, you will be missed! We wish you the very best for the future and hope to see you again!