Lorelle Skelton is a Sheffield-based Graphic Designer & Creative Changemaker. She runs her own conscious, creative studio, Great Good Creative, and is the Founder of The Creative Occupation.
She is also the parent to a 2 year old, who "likes to keep things interesting!"
We are big fans of TCO! What were your main motivations behind founding the platform? Is this something you’d like to pursue long-term?
Thank you! There were a couple of key motivating factors. Like many creatives, lockdown was a transformative time for me. I was coming to the end of a lengthy maternity leave, wondering what to do next, and I found myself reflecting often on my previous career choices. I realised that I felt a little let down, and started questioning the amount of support and access to opportunities I'd had on my journey. It didn’t take long to find the wealth of research that backed up my gut feeling. As a Northern, Black woman, the recent findings published in the Creative Majority report by the APPG for Creative Diversity were quite eye opening.
“Straight, able-bodied, white men living in London are only 3.5 per cent of the UK population (Henry and Ryder, 2021). Nevertheless, this small minority still dominates the creative sector, and in particular occupy a vast number of the most senior creative roles.”
I decided to create a space that welcomed this so-called ‘creative majority’, of which I am a member. A platform, and truly inclusive community, that would connect and uplift, as well as provide practical tools and resources. Since launching last year, I think we’ve gone a long way towards creating just that and I’m 100% committed to our growing community now, and in the future.
What is the ethos behind the platform and what are you hoping your audience will get out of it?
At its core, TCO exists to provide career support for all creatives. Be that through our mentoring programmes, resource library, member directory, regular blog features, Instagram content or anything else we are able to do in the future! My hope is that the TCO community can be a source of inspiration and a guide for creatives at all stages in their careers, whether you’re starting out or, as I once was, are at a crossroads in your career. TCO will always advocate for a more diverse creative industries, so I especially hope that all underrepresented creatives can find help and community in this space.
TCO will always advocate for a more diverse creative industries, so I especially hope that all underrepresented creatives can find help and community in this space.
Imogen and I launched PofY last year, and it took us a lot of courage to bite the bullet and go for it. Did you find the process of launching your own platform scary or intimidating? If so, how did you overcome this feeling?
Oh, hell yes! I’m a self-confessed introvert and this industry can be hard to navigate for people like me. I’ve had to push myself to move outside of my comfort zone countless times during the process of launching TCO, and I continue to do so. Imposter Syndrome is real, especially amongst my demographic (which perhaps isn’t surprising given the statistics we’ve seen about who occupies the most senior creative roles in our industry!), so it’s challenging to keep going sometimes. I try to remember what I'm doing it all for; to help fellow creatives fulfil their potential and occupy more space in their chosen fields. Ultimately, it’s a good thing that I'm trying to do… I believe that, so it’s worth persevering, despite how scary it might sometimes feel. Also, I frequently remind myself that Rome wasn’t built in a day. That even small wins are wins and that good things take time. Most days I'm able to be kind to myself. It helps that the response to TCO has been really wonderful. I’m so grateful to everyone - you gals included! - that have shown love for the platform. I’d really encourage anyone reading this to reach out to creatives whose work they appreciate, especially creatives of colour and other marginalised creatives, because (and I can attest to this) it is so very appreciated!
I’d really encourage anyone reading this to reach out to creatives whose work they appreciate, especially creatives of colour and other marginalised creatives, because it is so very appreciated!
So you’re a graphic designer outside of TCO? Why did you decide to become a graphic designer, and how has that evolved over time?
Despite a childhood dedicated to creative pursuits, I initially failed to follow my passion and instead got a degree from a ‘good’ university in what I deemed a ‘safe’ subject. But the creative itch wouldn’t go away, so after graduating I set about rediscovering my creative voice, which led me - via arts administration and digital marketing - to Graphic Design. When I finally landed on it, I couldn’t believe it had taken me so long. Graphic Design unifies two sides of me; the playful, and the practical, and I loved the idea of communicating something meaningful through my work. I studied at Shillington back in 2014, then landed my first design role at a Leeds agency, before moving on to work in-house at a global educational publishing company, where I rose to Chief Brand Officer. In 2017 I bit the bullet and went freelance. Gradually my niche started to emerge and now I’m proud to work exclusively with charities and not-for-profit organisations; making real change in the world through design that inspires action. It’s an incredible feeling knowing that my work is having a positive impact.
As a female creative, do you have any thoughts on counteracting the gender imbalance within the design industry?
With TCO, PofY and other diverse communities emerging, I’m really hopeful that we’re on the right track to addressing the imbalance, for sure. The fact that more females than males study creative arts subjects, but a smaller proportion of women go into creative jobs after graduation is really baffling (and maddening!). There’s been some interesting research though. A LinkedIn study found that women apply for 20% fewer roles than men because they will only apply for the role if they feel like they meet 100% of the criteria. Stefanie Sword-Williams, Founder of Fuck Being Humble, was the first person I came across to really challenge the way women devalue themselves at work, and I know that I’m not the only one to have made a conscious effort to know my worth off the back of her content. I think we're starting to see more and more role models emerge, and women are beginning to really challenge misconceptions about themselves. Anything we can do to help empower women, especially those from racialised communities and backgrounds, is a great start. Of course, it’s a really complex problem though and one that’s far from being resolved.
I think we're starting to see more and more role models emerge, and women are beginning to really challenge misconceptions about themselves. Anything we can do to help empower women, especially those from racialised communities and backgrounds, is a great start.
How do you see The creative Occupation evolving ?
I would love to see the TCO community grow in number. The more creatives that are engaged in the business of connecting with and uplifting others, sharing their stories, and being active in our community, the more valuable and impactful a tool TCO will be! I’m also really interested in bringing TCO into the physical world somehow. At the moment, I’m busy manifesting a book or magazine, so… watch this space!
What piece of advice would you give to anybody inspired by your platform, who wants to start their own platform or movement?
If you can see a community out there for your platform, then go for it! In my case, other platforms that I'd come across prior to launching TCO had felt a bit elitist, catering to a specific personality type that didn’t reflect me or the creatives that I knew. Find your audience and start slow, if you need to. It’s not a race and there’s nothing wrong with a ‘side hustle’! Celebrate your progress regularly to stay energised and, finally, don’t stress about what you think people will say. People are generally nice and appreciate when someone is trying to build something new. Believe in yourself… you’ve got this :-)
Find your audience and start slow. It's not a race.
Lastly, what is the best piece of career advice that you have ever received?
Definitely, to self-promote. I find this really hard so please don’t think I'm claiming to be any kind of expert here, but, if you can learn to toot your own horn when it matters, then good things will likely follow. Identify your strengths and why they matter, don’t be afraid to share your successes, and get used to talking about yourself… because you’ve got a lot to say!
Identify your strengths and why they matter, don’t be afraid to share your successes, and get used to talking about yourself… because you’ve got a lot to say!