Meet the Team - Head of Design - Delivering design and digital with creativity, collaboration and passion in Glasgow. - SHINE

Meet the Team – Head of Design

Having joined the SHINE team recently as someone with experience in marketing, rather than design, I decided to get to know our team better and what it is that excites them about their work here. I started off by chatting to Kieran Reilly, our Head of Design.  

I wanted to understand the different paths into a career in design; for many, the route isn’t always straightforward. Looking back, design seems like it would have been a natural choice for Kieran, who from a young age enjoyed designing football strips and badges at the back of school jotters and scrap paper. But it was only later that he realised this.  

“Originally, I actually wanted to study architecture. Throughout school that was the plan, until I did work experience at an architecture firm in the west end of Glasgow. Long story short, I absolutely hated it. I think I was just young and naive at the time, and if I had done more research into the type of place I was going to, I could potentially have got more out of it. But it just wasn’t for me.  

So I went back to school at the end of the summer, and I ended up doing really well. I was particularly inspired by my art teacher, who had trained as an interior designer. She was great at guiding me and helping me figure out my next steps. At the time I didn’t know if I wanted to go to college or university, but she ended up helping me put together a portfolio for an open day at The Met (now City of Glasgow College). I enrolled on a graphic design and visual communication course on the back of that portfolio – which was made up of things like studies of album covers – so that I could learn the more technical knowledge and theory behind the designs. 

To be honest, I didn’t know exactly what graphic designers did when I first went to college. I just knew that I already loved designing football crests in Pro Evolution Soccer and covers for CD mixtapes. I was already practicing graphic design without realising it. Looking back, I think I was always going to end up in this industry in some way or another and I’m glad that’s how things turned out.” 

It’s sometimes funny when you look back at how you’ve gotten to where you are, and realise that something not working out was actually for the best. It seems that this still rings true for Kieran. 

“Even though my summer working with architects was a short experience, it was enough to give me second thoughts – because I knew I didn’t want to spend years studying something I wasn’t 100% on. I’ve got some friends who studied architecture and are now working in some great studios and they absolutely love it. Maybe I was at the wrong place at the wrong time but now that I’m doing something I love day in, day out I know I made the right choice.”  

Kieran Reilly

So, how has design changed because of the pandemic? 

“The usual processes of face-to-face briefings, meetings and studio gatherings disappeared almost overnight, and we had to learn how to adapt to the situation pretty quickly. We had to be agile and introduce new, flexible ways of working. We had to learn how to present our work differently and sell our ideas over a zoom call rather than a cup of coffee.  

Going from a studio environment to a home office really highlighted how important collaboration is to the design process. As a studio we used this as an opportunity to connect and collaborate with as many local creatives as we could, when a project allowed, and we have built some great relationships from this.” 

I’m really interested to know what’s been your favourite project to work on so far, and why? 

“One project I’m particularly proud to have worked on was our rebrand of The Torridon as it was briefed and delivered during the early months of the pandemic. We worked closely with owners, Dan and Rohaise to realise their vision for the hotel without ever meeting face to face which would have been unthinkable 18 months prior.  

The rebrand and repositioning gave The Torridon a platform to refocus their guest experience and since launch the hotel has gone from strength to strength even after the challenges of the pandemic.” 

On a final note, Kieran offers some great advice to any young people who are wanting to pursue a career in design.  

“Be yourself. Focus on your own craft and don’t worry too much about what other people are doing. Reach out to fellow creatives and agencies that you admire and introduce yourself. Passion and drive can go a long way in this industry.” 

I think that’s some great advice that can apply to many of us.  

If you’d like to learn a bit more about Kieran and his work here at SHINE, click here.  

Posted By Michelle Clement

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