Bruce Usher

After completing a graphics course at Leeds University, Bruce Usher — who was one of the It’s Nice That Graduates selection of 2011 (supported by Represent) — started work at Inventory Studio. Their studio is based on the top floor of a former taxi garage in east London. Bruce Usher on...

The value of getting to know people socially...
Enjoying spending time with the people around me makes such a big difference to me. Being able to have a laugh about something irreverent can be as important as being able to sit down and talk through something clearly. Communicating with whoever I'm working with in lots of different ways means that when it’s time to come up with an idea there are lots of different ways to get to it.

Also if you spend time with them outside work and know what they are interested in you talk to them as normal people rather than in graphic design clichés.

I think that the dynamic of a studio environment is more about the people you’re surrounded by than the physical structure, or what’s in a room; so understanding the people you work with is important.

Getting away from the screen...
It's a cliché but having time to switch my mind off really makes a difference, and gives me a proper opportunity to filter all of the ideas and thoughts I’ve had. Spending time away from computers often helps, a screen can be quite hypnotic. Trying to remember that a creative suite is only a tool is something that I try to do as much as I can, so interacting with physical things, even if it’s just printing something out for a different perspective, tends to make my work a great deal better and gives me a clearer understanding of what I’m making.

Getting away from a desk can be a bit of a luxury so a large bookshelf and a kettle make a difference.

The importance of physical reference material...
I think having lots of books and magazines is more important now than ever, otherwise everyone ends up looking at the same things. Because so many people look at a blog like It’s Nice That, things will get regurgitated either consciously or subconsciously.

I’ve got a folder of images on my computer I have had since I was about 16 and it’s got something like 20,000 pictures in it now. Dragging things into it has just become a force of habit. It’s much nicer to interact with things physically.

What studios could nurture in new, young recruits...
When you’re at university, every time you get a project you’re really excited and you just want to say everything that’s on the tip of your tongue. You should always try and keep up that excitement around new projects —if people are bored with what they are doing and it shows then it can be very hard.

A good introduction is really important when you start at a new place, to get a real sense of what they do. One of the things I really liked at Inventory was they got out some of their own work when I went in and although I was aware we were not on a level playing field, if someone is willing to explain their work to you it opens things up immediately.

Often the problem with internships is that people think they are one way but a lot of it is give and take.