It's my pleasure to introduce you to Ryan McLeod, the founder of Slurpp and the creator of Creative Chit Chat; a podcast picking the brains of brilliant creatives connected to Dundee. Ryan was the year below me at art school and I was flattered when he asked to interview me for his podcast. You can listen to my interview here. The work that Ryan is doing to highlight the people and work related to the city of Dundee is brilliant and I can't wait to dig into all the other episodes.
Here's what he has to say...
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt over the last year
I’ve been running my own design studio, Slurpp for about 3 years now and 12 months ago I hit a real rough patch. Struggling to get work in and eating into my savings, I was seriously considering finding a full-time job to give me some security back.
The first thing I learned out of this experience is that when you’re going through a dry spell it’s the absolute worst time to be looking for work. You go to events with a completely different mindset, you’re likely to lower your prices, take on jobs that aren’t really what you want to be doing and you can ultimately come across as desperate. I’m sure everyone who’s self-employed has gone through similar struggles and there’s a big pressure when you know you’ve got bills to pay at the end of every month.
The biggest thing I’ve learned over the last 12 months is the importance of the network you build around yourself both personally and professionally. You have to ensure that when times are hard you have people to go to. People who will give you good solid rational advice and a kick up the arse when you need it. To get myself out of the rough patch I decided I needed to raise my profile, get out and speak to people about what they were up to and what I was up to. Out of this concept, the podcast was born and whether it’s coincidence or not I’ve never been busier.
What’s your burning question of the moment
Personally, the one thing I’m fighting with is - How do I take things forward from here? I’ve been running and building Slurpp for the last three years and it’s time to grow. A little.
I put the emphasis on ‘a little’ as I have no desire to scale for turnover and profit. I want to scale for creativity. I’m still trying to find the right way to do it and the right people to do it with. Play is massively important to me and having the flexibility to experiment with new techniques or approaches is essential. I love making stupid things or running side projects like the podcast. So looking to the future I just need to find a way of bringing some great people into the fold.
What’s the most inspiring thing you’ve seen/ heard/ read in the last year?
There have been many little snippets of conversations or blog posts or podcast episodes that have inspired me this year but the thing that stands out most in my mind is Fiona Munro’s Blog - Love, Light and mermaid tails.
In January 2016 Fi was diagnosed with non-genetic, stage four ovarian cancer. Throughout her journey battling cancer, she used her blog to document everything. Being completely open and honest sharing everything including the pre-op plans of her surgery by drawing on her belly with a Sharpie. Fi has this unwavering positivity that comes across in her writing. She’s also done some amazing work raising awareness, raising money and spreading a lot of love. I would highly recommend her blog and upcoming book to anyone. You’ll probably shed a tear but you’ll definitely get a few laughs and leave with a great sense of positivity and drive.
What would be your one piece of advice to students out there?
You get as much out of your time in education as you put in. Having studied at college then university and gone on to do a bit of teaching. I know that the best students are the ones who put the hours in. The ones who embed themselves in the studio culture and the ones who aren’t afraid to ask for help and guidance.
You need to draw everything you can from your university or college experience to help you grow. Although it’s a careful balance it also means socially. I met friends for life at university and we still go to each other to get critiques and advice on our work. It goes back to my earlier point about surrounding yourself with great people to inspire and drive you forward. That starts during your education.
One other thing to mention is grades. There can be a lot of emphasis put on this inside institutions and although you should be pushing to get the best grades possible through quality work, you won’t be judged on whether you got a 1st or a 2:1 in the real world. You’ll be judged on your portfolio, your skills and your experience. Make sure when you finish up, you have a portfolio that showcases your skills and strengths and sets you apart from the competition.
You can read the rest of the profiles here: