Hire Ed, Part 3

Business is relationships, relationships are business.

Welcome back! If you’ve been following along in the series, this is the finale. Post 1 and 2 set us up nicely to actually be able to answer: How do we hire?

The simplest answer is: the way we get hired as a studio. It starts with a connection.

One of the benefits of being a studio 34 years young is we have worked with a lot of different people. A lot of different clients. We’ve developed relationships with a wide network that is constantly growing. 

Those relationships often become an important connection point for future projects, or a reference for someone new. We are the benefactors of word of mouth and a network of clients that has mostly positive things to say about working with us. So, it is only natural that we apply this same framework to those we work with.

Good work only gets you a conversation.

From there, we look at who they have worked with that we trust. We then consider if they can do something we can’t. Usually when we’re looking, we are trying to fill a specific gap in a project (illustration, photography, web development, strategic writing, etc.).

We are fortunate to have been able to work with so many different collaborators. The simple catalyst for this is that they can do things we can’t. They are perfectly suited to solve a part of the problem we need solved, while we focus on a variety of other aspects of the project.

These collaborations, more often than not, are a result of trust. In the end, business is about relationships. Of course, there are many times we’ve worked with total strangers, like hiring a photographer to shoot a hockey team in Nairobi, or an illustrator we’ve been waiting to have the right assignment for.

On those projects we build a new relationship, and the network grows.

You might be saying, “That’s all great, but how does it help me?” The key is in relationships. Growing a network that matters. And how do we start a good and trusting relationship? Showing interest and initiating conversation. This might sound simple, but if you are sending an email, reaching out for the first, second or fifth time, triple-check you have the details correct. Spelling the name of the person you are writing to correctly. When you reference a project we did, make sure we actually did it! 

Luckily, there are far easier ways to get all of this correct. Social media! Our names are usually visible when we post something. The project we are posting about is a project we did, so all you have to do is comment. Share something you love about the project. Is it the photography? The use of illustration? Is something in the typography or design really working for you? Great!

Immediately, you have initiated and shown interest in the work you want to be a part of. We might not respond, but it is noticed. It is always noticed.

Say hello in person! Don’t make it weird, but go to design events in the community. There is often pricing for students or new grads. We usually attend these events. Do some homework. Our faces are on this site. Don’t make it creepy, but introductions are totally fine in those settings. Will it feel a bit awkward? Of course! At first, at least. Try to be yourself, and don’t put too much pressure on yourself that this conversation is going to change your life. Just have a conversation and, when in doubt, ask questions.

Here’s a quick example of where conversation can lead to something unexpected. We’ve hired illustrator Darren Booth for a few assignments over the years. In the Fall of 2022, Darren reached out asking if he could swing by the studio and show his portfolio and some of his work. We jumped at the chance as we saw it as an opportunity for some of our designers and our intern to meet a working illustrator and learn from them. Sian, who was first an intern with us straight out of school (yeah she’s that good ya’ll), hadn’t felt paper stock until she was in the studio with us! We definitely needed her to meet an illustrator.

In that conversation, Darren shared that he has Aphantasia, and how that informs his process for creating work. Fascinating to learn about, and we were even more impressed with Darren. Fast-forward to working on our first issue of Find Magazine. Darren was posting about his upcoming solo show, and we immediately made the connection that he could be a contributor.

All of that started with a conversation: ‘Hey, would you be interested in a portfolio visit?’ What was in it for him? Almost nothing, we already know of him and hire him. Could he have known the future? Probably not. His purpose was just to connect. No agenda.

There is no magic formula or guarantee to getting hired, but if we tried to write it out, it would simply look like this: Interest creates conversation. Conversation builds trust. Trust builds relationships. Relationships build business.

A lot of things have to happen and be working, and there needs to be the right fit (which is probably a whole other post). The bottom line is business is built on relationships, and relationships build business. It can be scary, but initiate, reach out (correctly), and start a conversation. You never know where it can lead.