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LCC Short Courses | How I got here: Peta Miller

Peta Miller
Peta Miller
Peta Miller
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Published date
24 May 2018

As part of a new series from LCC Short Courses, we’re delving into how skill-based careers can be built upon through further training – How I got here: covering the points of inspiration, the struggles and the top tips they’d give to other aspiring creatives.

Meet Peta Miller – working both as a freelance graphic designer and for the Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust as a Senior Graphic Designer, she continues to be eager to learn new skills and build upon her existing skill set. Peta joined us for two courses earlier this year, Adobe After Effects and Animation: Beginners and our five-day course on User Experience (UX) design: lean and methodology.

Growing up in a creative setting, her father John Nash emerged from advertising and set up John Nash & Friends in 1973. Peta spent her weekends as a child in the studio playing with letraset, cow gum and marker pens whilst her father designed –  a long time love of making things.

Now having worked throughout the UK and across the world as a graphic designer working on projects from the National Opera branding to mock-ups for Wedgewood and Hasbro catalogues Peta has a wealth of knowledge on the industry. Setting up her own company focusing on brand design she describes how skills she learnt as part of her education in the 80’s have influenced her fascination of creating visual exciting images, through simple animation.

We caught up with Peta to find out more about her journey…

Tell us about you…

I always loved drawing and making things, every holiday was spent practising the craft of artwork – learning how to use the parallel motion board, mark-up and prepare typesetting, cow gum, rottring pens and more. I was lucky enough after my studies to have the opportunity to work on live briefs, preparing ideas and mock-ups for Wedgewood jewellery brochures and Hasbro toy catalogues.

Tell us about your career in Graphic Design so far?

After graduating from Middlesex University, I travelled to Perth, Australia – with a portfolio under my arm, I rang the highest profile design group to see if they would look at my work. They did, I started the next day and spent 6 months gaining industry experience. I then travelled around Australia, New Zealand and America working freelance. When I headed back to the UK I worked with my father and spent 17 years working direct with many global brands, travelling worldwide for clients.

I then set up my own business focusing on brand design, in particular developing strategic branding skills. I’ve had the pleasure of working with many innovative clients big and small. More recently I have become more involved with designing for the NHS, as well as working as Nash Design for clients in the private sector, specifically the hospitality and manufacturing industries.

Your career has spanned the world, how did this influence your work?

I found that having a London-based art education was held in high esteem, that and having a great portfolio, got me my first job. I suppose they were looking to me to bring my own style into design ideas. Later on working with clients across Cuba and Portugal in particular meant I fully immersed myself in the culture in order to understand the clients communication needs at home and abroad.
Any influence you have has to be right for the brand, so you have to have an eye for the detail but also focus on the bigger picture.

How does your work adapt for digital/print usage and now for use on social media?

A truly successful branding concept works because application to all channels has been considered from the word go. I believe in the power of the big idea as the starting point for every brand platform. A smart idea, cleverly executed can be applied to print, digital and social media to create a fully rounded brand experience. I love the fact I can design a brand identity knowing I can now also bring it to life through animation and have the means to show it off!


How does creating for digital usage impact you as a designer? Does this impact the final product designed?

Animation was a part of my foundation course back in the 80’s, and the fascination of creating visual exciting images, through simple animation has never left me – when I was a part of a big design studio we would commission animation from specialists. Now with Adobe Creative Cloud I have the capability to get involved in the process myself and enjoy the creative experience firsthand.

You joined us for After Effects and Animation: Beginners course, how has this helped to develop your work in moving image?

Having wanted to get involved personally with animating my brand identities for a long time, I finally took the plunge in March.
Although I was the oldest on the course I was determined to learn and the course tutor was brilliant. With a good pace and an interesting cross-section of students from differing design, all with their own objectives for doing the course and enhancing their careers. It was a tiring but fabulous few days.

You also joined us for User Experience (UX) design: lean and methodology course, how has this helped to develop your work? Does this add another layer to your work as a graphic designer? 

I’m a hands-on designer and wanted to broaden my UK design knowledge, learn the nitty gritty of the process, and understand the overlap with graphic design. The course taught me to view the users experience from a fresh perspective, to filter-out my designer brain and wish to solve problems. Now I feel more confident in working alongside UX/UI designers, and understand how our skills overlap, even if I don’t personally take on the UX role.

How key is the adobe suite to you as a professional creative?

Adobe’s Creative Suite has become central to the creative production process, but, I believe a designer should never be led by the software in terms of a creative solution. I always start work with a pencil and pad. Of course, knowing what capabilities the software offers means you can develop your design accordingly.

Give us your top advice for aspiring graphic designers?
  1. Practise your drawing skills
  2. Keep an open and enquiring mind
  3. Don’t be afraid to knock on doors and present yourself in person.
  4. Build your portfolio by working on personal projects, stand out from the crowd.
  5. Make yourself aware of the history of graphic design, it will help you grow and improve as a designer.
  6. Don’t feel like you have to the have knowledge of every piece of software just to tick CV boxes. Knowing a few really well, will enable you to execute your ideas to perfection – and I believe will make you a better designer.
Learn more about the Adobe After Effects and Animation: Beginners and the User Experience (UX) design: lean and methodology short course and how to book