Interview Designer and Illustrator James Round

James Round is a designer and illustrator currently heading for the big smoke in London, his prints and work really grabbed my attention and it’s a pleasure to share with you this interview. We talk to James about; his work, favourite films & music, time at university, his inspiration, twitter followers & more.

“When you’re doing work at university, remember that whatever project you’re doing could be the ticket to your dream job. Work with that in mind.”James Round

photo(3)Who is James Round? What route through education did you take for your first design role?

I’m a designer and illustrator currently based in Leeds but making the move down to London in a few weeks. In my current day job (ending soon) I work as a designer for the UK’s largest wholesaler of home and giftware across their digital and print channels. It’s a pretty varied role and has been great for my first full time role out of Uni. Outside of work I run an online store selling screen prints. I’ve had to put this on hold a bit for the last few months because of other commitments, but I’m almost ready to get going with it again and I’ve got some awesome new ideas for the store which I think will lead to some really exciting things.

In terms of education, I studied New Media at Uni. I had a great time at university, but I’m not sure how well it prepared me for the working world. After graduating I spent months unemployed, unable to get a full time job and just ended up producing as much work as possible and securing as many placements and freelance work as I could. In the end, I landed my first job without showing any of the work that I’d completed on my university course.

Do you think that time out of work after university was a positive or negative?

I don’t think it was an overly positive time. It’s a very difficult industry to crack and there’s nothing worse than an endless bunch of job rejections. However, I knew I was never going to give up on it, and eventually I landed my first full time job. It was a lot of work, but it was all worth it after that.


“I knew I was never going to give up on it, and eventually I landed my first full time job. It was a lot of work, but it was all worth it after that.”

What advice would you offer to 3rd year students about the graduate this summer?

I definitely didn’t realize how difficult finding employment would be and as a result I probably didn’t make the most of my time at university. When you’re doing work at university, remember that whatever project you’re doing could be the ticket to your dream job. Work with that in mind.

Also keep in mind that in most universities, you are not taught nearly all the skills you need to be effective as a designer. Nothing prepares you like an actual role so I’d really recommend doing a placement somewhere. It will also look much better to future employers.


Who have been your biggest creative influences?

I get very inspired by just searching through Behance. I think it’s such an important resource for designers; for networking, resources and gaining exposure.

In terms of actual designers, I love the work of the greats. I think a lot can be learnt from people like Saul Bass and Milton Glaser who pushed the industry forward so much. I think they achieved what every designer wants; to be able to create design that becomes so iconic that it’s works its way firmly into popular culture. That sort of stuff will outlast us all!

I also really love the work of Mondo; the artists who work with them produce screen prints that are impossibly complex and beautiful.

How did you enjoy your time at university, would you recommend it as a place to study?

I really did enjoy my time at university. However it was a creative course at an academic university, and I certainly wonder if I’d have been better of going to an art college and getting more hands on experience rather than writing essays.

What has been your favourite personal project you’ve completed?

My favourite personal project I’ve completed has definitely been all the work I’ve done for Etsy store. I’ve had a such a great time doing it, shipped my prints all over the world and been featured in magazines. However the biggest compliment is that I’m now getting job interviews with incredible companies as a result of this work. To be recognised for something that I’ve created from nothing with only my own instincts to drive it has been incredible. It’s a wonderful comfort that lets me know I’m in the right industry on days when I’m doubting myself.


If you could collaborate with anyone in the world on a project would who would you pick?

Wow, that’s a really tough question. It would be amazing to work with a company like Nike or Adidas, because they utilize design so well. In terms of people, there are just so many people out there who I admire, I think it would be impossible to pick.

Who are your favourite people to follow on twitter?

I adore twitter and it’s easy to get really distracted by it. I love the tweets that @ohh_deer put out; all the artists they work with are super talented. I’m also really into @Sketch_Dailies at the moment. They tweet a subject each day for people to draw. The standard is ridiculously high. I follow a lot of designers, but just looking at people I’ve favourite recently, people should definitely check out @chrisspooner, @BenIllustrator, @TobiasHall, @Tonyjohnson and @MattTaylorDraws.

Which are your favourite creative sites online for news, articles, Inspiration & tutorials?

Sites that I visit pretty much every day are Design Juices (obviously!), It’s Nice That, Form Fifty Five, Creative Bloq, Branding Identity Design , Friends of Type and Creative Boom to name a few. The list could really go on for ever!


Away from working how do you like to spend your spare time?

To be honest, most of my time is spent working at the moment as I think early on in your career it’s important to build up a huge body of work. I’m also applying for jobs in London at the minute, which is massively time consuming.

However when I’m not doing that, I love to spend time surfing, running and watching TV and films. Travelling is also a pretty big passion of mine, and I always try to make time every few months to go somewhere new.

What albums are dominating your iPod so far in 2014?

This year I’m really enjoying music by Foxes, M83, Keaton Henson, MS MR and All the Luck in the world. I’m also really addicted to podcasts. They can actually be really inspiring and certainly help a long day at work fly by. Some of the stories told on podcasts are incredible. At the moment I listening to 99% Invisible, Snap Judgement, This American Life, The Cracked Podcast, The Complete Guide to Everything and Radio Lab.

Which films have been your favorite in recent years?

Some of my favorite films are; The Life Aquatic (anything by Wes Anderson really), Sunshine, Inception, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (really great character design!) and Children of Men.

Where do you see yourself by 2015?

By 2015 I would see myself in London, either working for an in house team with an awesome brand or as part of an agency. There’s also a lot of things I’m about to change about my online store and I think it’s going to lead to some really exciting stuff.





Website | Etsy | @jamesrdesigner