The Tecmark 10 – with digital designer Alex Ashman

Digital designer Alex Ashman joined Tecmark in March 2015, having moved to Manchester from Edinburgh. An experienced animator and illustrator, we caught up with her to discuss design, emotional commutes and Shania Twain. Follow Alex on Twitter.

1. What does your typical day look like?

My days here are very varied, which I love. On any given day of the week I could be illustrating, designing, wire-framing a webpage, editing video or animating something.

I can’t start any day without a very big cup of tea. Then, I usually take five minutes while I start up my Adobe suite to check a few creative websites for news updates (Behance, Pinterest, Creative Bloq, Awwwards, etc).

I always make a list the night before of the day’s work, which really helps me keep on track and not forget anything important. I’ll also check in often during the day with project management and the development team to discuss projects and get feedback.

I’ll spend a lot of time with my fellow designer, Jordan, discussing projects that we’re working on, and we usually help each other out on a lot of things throughout the day.

2. What’s the most satisfying aspect of your work?

There are so many things. I love how much freedom I have over my designs – I definitely feel I have free reign to create anything I can imagine on most projects, and it’s wonderful to see a project through from start to finish with that much input.

I also feel that I’m constantly challenged to learn new things and grow my knowledge and skills for a lot of projects, which is fantastic.

3. And the best thing about working at Tecmark?

The people. There are so many hardworking and passionate people that it inspires me to keep up and push as hard as they are for better results, new ideas and happy clients. There’s a great atmosphere of teamwork.

4. You’re originally from Orkney, then studied in Dundee before working in Edinburgh. How does Manchester compare? Are you now an adopted Mancunian?

I think I am! Growing up on an island, I never thought I’d end up as far south as this, or in such a big city, but Manchester so far has been such a welcoming place.

I thought I’d never like it as much as Edinburgh, but the people are so approachable and warm. There’s always something happening, and there’s a buzz about the place that’s really exciting. I’ve definitely felt embraced by the city, and I’m really enjoying exploring everything.

But I’m still confused by what a barm actually is.

5. What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned over the last 12 months?

I’ve learned a huge amount since starting here – coming from an animation and print background, the biggest learning curve has been designing for multi-screen and web. It’s now a medium that I’m really passionate about, and I love seeing my skills grow so quickly with help from the talented team here.

There’s been a lot of skill sharing around our team, and I’ve taken part in some basic coding classes which has really helped me understand more about the wizardary of code.

I’ve also helped teach others about design and animation software, which is brilliant as it keeps me on my toes and I usually end up learning a new thing or two in the process.

6. And what do you expect to be learning over the next 12 months?

I’m really looking forward to broadening my web design skills, and pushing myself to try even more new approaches. I’d love to keep up my coding skills too, so I’m going to make sure I keep practising.

7. How do you relax away from work?

I can usually be found drawing, with my nose in a book, or binge watching every series of Buffy on Netflix. I love yoga and swimming too.

8. You’re a fan of reading on your commute – can you recommend three novels you’ve read in the last couple of years?

The latest novel that totally floored me was Jude the Obscure, by Thomas Hardy. I’m a massive Hardy fan, but I’d always put this one off as it’s so emotional. Now I’m so glad I’ve finally read it, even if it did make me sniffle on a busy train.

I recently started reading Ray Bradbury’s short stories, so I’d have to recommend The Illustrated Man. His imagination is just endless – I’ll read anything he’s written.

And I’m currently re-reading The Summer Book, by Tove Janson (of Moomin fame). It perfectly captures the feeling of summer on an island, which I think is why I love it so much. It reminds me of home.

9. An afternoon in an arts and crafts shop, or back-to-back films at the cinema? Which one gets your vote?

That’s an near impossible pick… I’d have to say craft shop, although it’d be very dangerous for my bank balance.

10. And finally… Shania Twain or Red Hot Chilli Peppers?

This is a tough one as I think I own every single album by both the mighty Chillis and Shania.

For the sake of my reputation I feel I should say Red Hot Chilli Peppers – but that will never stop me yelling every single word of “That don’t impress me much” in the privacy of my own home.
Editor’s note: Here you go Alex, just for you…

Feb 28, 2013
Daniel Morehead

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