Creative Talk with Matthew Ramsay, Design Director of MitoQ
Our latest Creative Talk is with Matthew Ramsay, Design Director of the global brand MitoQ. Matthew’s career has spanned agency and client side. We find out more about his journey and the differences between being a creative in an agency vs in-house client side.
Matthew, give us the backstory – who are you and what’s your career journey to date?
Hi there, my name is Matthew, I’ve been working in the creative industry now for over 20 years. I got interested in design through skateboarding, there were cool graphics everywhere, boards, tees and magazines - this is what inspired me to follow a career in design from a young age. I graduated from Media Design School in the early 2000s and got my first job in a screen printing company in Grey Lynn, Auckland, NZ. I learned so much in this job, and it set me up with some good knowledge about printing and pre-press for when I moved into agency life as a Mac Op. From there, I have worked my way up through the industry in various agencies and my last few roles have been in-house and most recently at MitoQ as their Design Director.
Does working with a fast growing global brand like MitoQ bring all your prior experience into play?
The benefit of age and experience working with a brand like this means I can jump on any brief every day. I can turn my hand to moodboards for shoots, e-commerce, video editing, packaging, social and digital. You have a pool of references at the ready from previous roles and can re-purpose ideas quickly and efficiently. From early pre-press Mac op / Artworking skills to concept ideation for new directions, I can dip into any of it.
What’s the main difference between working agency side vs working in-house client side?
The main difference is agency work offers a bit more diversity and variety, you will work on multiple clients at any time, whereas working in-house your work is focused on one brand and you get a really good understanding of the product/brand you work for. You will normally sit within the marketing team and collaborate with people from all departments. In In-house roles, you also work directly with external partners such as production agencies for photoshoots, other designers, animators - whatever you may need. The good thing about working in-house is you normally become a jack of all trades, as quite often you might be the only designer unless you work for a large company.
MitoQ works with a variety of agencies, local and international – How do you find the quality of creative produced internationally, the UK vs China vs New Zealand?
When MitoQ did the rebrand they worked with a UK-based agency Born Ugly who created a really great brand. I don’t think the quality of creative changes between regions, but sometimes the style of design work can change. Local agencies will have better knowledge of our markets. New Zealand is definitely up there and has some great creative agencies, just look at the quality of work in the Best Awards each year. I think New Zealand creative remains competitive on the global stage.
You have successfully worked your way up to your current role as Design Director, where does a Design Director go next in their career?
Retire or move to Paris to become a patisserie chef. MitoQ is a fast-growing company so I’m really happy working for them and helping create a world-class brand. Prior to MitoQ, I worked for a global brand Icebreaker as an Art Director - working on many photoshoots, so photography does really interest me and this is something I would like to invest more time in and learn.
How do you feel about age – is age a barrier in the creative industry?
From my experience so far age has not been a barrier, talent & creativity are what really matters in this industry. Normally someone who is older will have more experience and knowledge to pull from, but younger people quite often will have new fresh ideas, so I think working in a team that spans across all age groups would be the best thing for any company looking to get a team of creatives together.
What would be your idealistic item / brand to design and or collaborate with?
I loved working in apparel and really loved the outdoor industry, so working for a brand like Nike or Arc’teyrx would be amazing. I loved working on the seasonal photoshoots in my previous job; one week we were in a studio the next in the South Island shooting outdoors on a mountain.