Behind the Sole: Digital Creative & Graphic Designer

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behind the sole

Our Digital Creative and Graphic Designer used to be an e-sports athlete, is a lover of Zen proverbs and has big ambitions for his career. We caught up with 26-year-old Jack Flaxton to chat about standout moments, biggest challenges and favourite quotes of all time.

Did you go to University and if so, what did you study?

I studied 3D Visualisation and Animation at Bournemouth University and it’s got to be the hardest course I’ve ever taken. It covered everything from Computer Science, Mathematics and Programming Languages to Life Drawing, Animation and Cinematography. A huge stretch between technical and creative that really pushed my understanding of visual art and design.

How did you get this job?

I applied online and was contacted to come say hi! After coming to the Head Office – and liking what I saw – I took the plunge and moved from London to Hemel Hempstead. Six months later I’m settling into the role nicely and feel I’m on my way to realising my full potential as a Graphic Artist.

Did you always want to pursue a career in this field?

My creative sensibilities started to majorly take shape at college in my second year when I was 17. My art and graphics teachers were absolutely fantastic and I feel like they were keys that unlocked me. After college I wanted to go into 3D animation but after university I realised that industry, and the ways into it, did not suit me at all. The first jobs in my career included creating event flyers for local organisers advertising gigs and parties. I had another part time weekend job in a cafe too. A common vein that ran through all my years growing up, even before college, was the software Photoshop and its incredible power to help one realise images. I use it every day in this role! 

What does a typical day involve?

Most days I’m designing emails and banners as well as other tasks like designing the website and posters/flyers to be displayed in the stores. Occasionally I also do some video production/editing and create motion graphics. It’s a real mix of stuff, just how I like it!

What’s your favourite part of the job?

My favourite thing about my role here at SOLETRADER is having the opportunity to create kick-ass visuals in order to promote our great brand and the premium quality shoes we sell. I take great pleasure and pride in my responsibility to render our visual presence both online and off.

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How do you get creative when trying to design to a specific brief?

Just like a magician doesn’t tell how he performs his magic, nor will I! I will give a clue though; Google is an eye-opener to say the least!

What’s the biggest challenge your job role presents you with?

My background before SOLETRADER had been a freelance method of working; I would have a single point of contact within a company to complete a set task over a period of time. My role here is the opposite as I have many points of contact in the office and many tasks. So I guess my biggest challenge right now is juggling everything so everyone, including myself, is happy.

What’s your favourite way to relax after a stressful day?

It used to be a few games of Dota 2 with some buddies online – I could switch off from the world and focus on the hour the game lasts. But my RSI (repetitive strain injury) along my arm/wrist is not taking a turn for the better so I’m considering more social/hands-free pastimes.

Where do you see your career going?

I have big ambitions for my career – I aim for a position like Art Director – relied upon for my vision, and an ability to communicate this vision.

What’s your favourite footwear?

Right now I’m a Chelsea boots kind of guy. Slip on, durable and smart. An all-purpose, one solution kind of deal! 

Describe your style in three words…
Work hard play hard. There’s actually only three different words used there haha. I say this because I dress very smartly at work – I take it very seriously (maybe too seriously) – but at home you’d see me in very casual clothing. I used to blade a lot at skate parks, so you could probably say I dress like a skater sometimes with a cap etc. It depends on the situation and the people.

Where is your OOTD (outfit of the day) from?

H&M: Shirt, tie and slim jeans.
USC: Chelsea boots.

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What’s an interesting or quirky fact about you?

I used to be an e-Sports Athlete! This means taking computer gaming too seriously haha. I was awarded money for winning a few competitions (in UK/Europe) and I nearly signed with the France based team Quantic and their sponsors. This was all in Dota 2 – a game similar to League of Legends.

Tell us about a standout moment in your life…

One of my favourite moments of all time was sitting in an Indian-style cafe on a hill at Glastonbury Festival, shaded from the beaming sun with a group of friends and some great vibes.

Who/what inspires you?

Peter Joseph (a contemporary Philosopher and filmmaker), Buckminster Fuller (wrote Operating Manuel for Spaceship Earth, 1968), Alan Watts (Spiritual Entertainer), Rage Against The Machine (Rock band) and Tim Marrs (Illustrator and Designer). 

What’s your favourite piece of advice/quote?

I guess one quote I’d like to share that means a lot to me is this old Zen Buddhist proverb.

Before enlightenment,

chop wood, carry water,

after enlightenment,

chop wood, carry water.

I love how Zen proverbs make no sense and a lot of sense at the same time. Simple yet complicated ideas.

If you could have a dinner party with three people, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Firstly Nikola Tesla because I think he had more to teach the world than his investors (J.P. Morgan) allowed. Secondly a Croatian/English translator and thirdly, someone who can type on a computer ridiculously fast (do I have a time limit?) to record all his genius. I guess my choices here are a more practical use of summoning the dead, and not everyone’s idea of fun – but it would make general life better for everyone I think!

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