A Week in My Life: Richard Barnes, Creative Director of Buffalo 7
This week Richard Barnes, Creative Director of Buffalo 7, runs us through a week in his working life. To suggest another senior media or creative figure for A Week In My Life, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I get to work around 8am and begin planning my day. Today is different to my average Monday as I’m visiting our new studio for an onsite progress meeting with engineers and furniture designers. Next month, we’re moving to 127 Portland Street into ‘The Treehouse Suite’.
The new place will be an amazing working environment for the team. It’s been great where we are, but we’ve outgrown the space and the new place is really special. Lyndon (our CEO) and I have been knee deep in this project for nine months. There’s a constant stream of emails to respond to and decisions to be made quickly, all of which I do my best to keep on top of.
Once the meeting is done and dusted, I get into the office ready for our studio production meeting, which happens at 9am every day and lasts for around 15 minutes. These meetings are always fun, often banter filled and a great start to the day.
Early afternoon kicks off with a quick meeting about a new project we’re working on, before the commercial team and Project Managers get together for a short 15-minute session to review our project pipeline. This month is looking excellent, despite it being holiday season, so I’m relaxed and keen to crack on.
Around 4pm, I pick up my daughter from nursery and spend the next few hours battling with messy food and bath time. When the dust settles, like all business owners, I regularly check my phone and make notes for tomorrow to help clear the mind.
Today I have a bit more time before my 9 o’clock production meeting, so I’ll use the time to work on a larger task, which in today's case is writing up my notes from our UEFA briefing last week.
For the rest of the day I’ll only have around 30 minutes at my own desk. I stopped actually designing a long time ago, so this time is usually spent responding to emails, building up and adding necessary tasks to my list, or meetings to my diary.
Our type of work is fast paced, so client meetings tend to go in at the drop of hat, which is fine, as I like a high tempo to keep things moving along nicely. I also like to make sure everybody in the studio can have access to me as much as they need to discuss ideas or strategies, so I try and only schedule meetings in short blocks - no more than 30 mins. I always try to make these meetings in a neutral part of the studio so that it forces people to break away from their desks and have a focused conversation.
Around lunchtime, I check back in with the project managers to see how their days are going; it’s probably around this time that tomorrow’s meetings will start to form. I make some calls and block out some time to work on forming upcoming briefs.
That afternoon, we check in with the senior designers to discuss any issues and debate ideas on how we can improve. This results in us calling for a meeting with all designers to analyse how we currently produce work in Photoshop and where there is room for improvement.
After the daily production meeting, I block out some time to work on my task list. Part of the office move is to help us grow as a business, so I’m in the process of hiring new talent to join the team. I spend some time writing new job descriptions, and scheduling new interviews. I’m a really good judge of character and I usually know within a minute if I’ll hire someone. As well as planning to double the design team over the next six months, we’re also on the lookout for another Copywriter, Project Manager and Office Manager.
I spend the next two hours reviewing work I’m overseeing as a Senior Designer. As a dyed-in-the-wool designer, it’s important to me to stay very close to the creative work that leaves the studio. We make PowerPoint look amazing, and to ensure we do this we have a saying: ‘Design Excellence Every Time’. It’s important to me that every project is delivered to that standard, whether it be for a household name like the BBC, or a small start-up looking for help with their investment pitch.
Every project has a Senior Designer attached to it, working with the whole project team to make sure the project meets, and hopefully exceeds, delivery. They make sure meetings are quick, actions are decided, and momentum is maintained. There’s always questions and issues, but that is my role to help discuss and resolve.
Seeing young designers doing awesome work is extremely rewarding, and myself and other Senior Designers really enjoy the mentoring side of this.
The rest of the day is filled with numerous calls and meetings regarding the new office, including one with the site manager, the legal team and a paperwork meeting with our Financial Director regarding furniture for the new space.
This morning is dedicated to a new Budweiser project we’re working on. I start by briefing and reviewing work with the freelancer we have on board to help with the project, and then have a call with the client to cover off any changes we made and discuss actions going forward.
My lunchtime is spent with the Head of Creative to discuss ideas and issues, as well as planning the development of the team and individual progress. We do our utmost to develop staff to be the absolute best that they can be, so we spend a lot of time discussing personal development. I come back from lunch to hear power ballads echoing through the studio. This would remain the case for the rest of the day. I now have a one-to-one catch up with one of my team members who is experiencing an issue on a particular project, so we divide and conquer together.
After the catch up, we have a new project that involves the whole team assigned to it being briefed in by the Project Manager. It gives everyone a chance to be involved from the beginning, ask questions, and begin to plan their own responsibilities for the task. Everyone loves a new project, so the buzz is high and energetic.
What’s left of the day is filled with meetings with the development department to catch up and discuss new hires. Following that, I spend some time with each team individually talking about their upcoming projects, ideas and progress.
The final day of the week is kicked off by gathering on the sofas to eat bacon sandwiches. Most people have arrived by 8:30 and tuck in before work. It’s become a bit of a Buffalo 7 tradition - we’ve been doing it since the days when there were only a few of us. Now, when we order nearly 30 of them, we do get a fair bit of eye rolling from the staff at … (I’m not going to shame).
At 9, I have a call with our Commercial Director, shortly followed by reviewing a video our Motion Graphics Designer is creating for Epson. It’s looking great and the client is really happy, so am I too.
After lunch, the team has ‘Dev time’ for the rest of the day. Every two weeks, our Friday afternoons are spent away from client work and just generally being creative and/or working on new skills. At the moment, the majority of people are spending Dev time working on graphics and designs for the new office. It’s really important to me that we give our team this time where they can learn new skills and work on things they wouldn’t normally. It doesn’t begin as client work, but quite often the skills the team learn in this time find their way into our presentations.
Friday is the only day that all the Directors are in the office, so we crack on with our weekly finance meeting while Dev time is going on. We’re keen to keep on top of the most current software, so this is an opportunity to chat about how we can use different platforms to streamline our processes and accounts.
It’s approaching 5pm now, so I can hear bottles clinking as the beer fridge is opened as we all begin to wind down a bit. A little bit of planning our work schedule for next week with the Project Managers… and I’m done.