by Elizabeth Lavis | 22 Nov 2022
Chello’s Design Director, Sophie Taylor, works with various design media, like animation and illustration, to bring innovative branding and content strategy initiatives alive for clients in up-and-coming fields like new technology, NFPs, and cutting-edge healthcare. For Taylor, one of the most critical aspects of her job is fostering new designers through leadership and mentoring.
“I truly believe there is nothing more important within the industry than nurturing and uplifting creative talent,” she says. “Good ideas can come from anywhere, but those ideas must be given space and encouragement to be articulated, explored, and brought to life.” Throughout Taylor’s career, she’s been fortunate to interact with mentors and leaders, and now she can pay it forward.
“I’ve worked with some incredibly creative, nurturing, and inspiring mentors and managers who have helped develop my skills in creative leadership,” she says. “I’ve also had the opportunity to mentor junior, midnight, and senior designers throughout my career and have recently been involved in the Australian Graphic Design Association 2021 mentorship program.”
Taylor sees the creative industry as the ultimate changemaker, and with this great power comes the responsibility to give back to the community and help young designers flourish. For Taylor, design was the logical career choice as a way to fuse strategic thinking and problem-solving with her creative tendencies. “I’ve always been creative and analytical,” she says, “so design is the perfect mix of the two.”
Taylor’s road to Chello started in traditional publishing and media. Then, she dabbled in fashion and quickly began learning UI and UX. The fusion of different disciplines and skills gives her a unique design approach that’s heavy on strategy and client experience but always crafted with the end solution.
“The biggest influence on my way of thinking is the fundamental understanding that designers are inherently problem solvers,” she says. “The role of a designer is to develop creative solutions to problems, whether marketing, packaging, or business problems.” Without a foundation that rests squarely on problem-solving, the design falls short for Taylor. “If we are just designing for designs’ sake, to make something look pretty or cool, we’ve missed the brief,” she says.
To keep her skill set sharp and stay informed, Taylor likes to delve into several different sources of information and up-to-date design trends, including blogs, TED talks, Wired magazine, the New York Times, EDMs, and Instagram. As much as Taylor immerses herself in different design trends and styles, she also applies her hands-on approach to dealing with clients, gaining their trust quickly.
“The key is less about convincing clients to trust your better judgment,” she says. “It’s more about taking them on the journey with you. If a client can see themselves, and their brief, even their own words reflected in the work you are presenting, it feels more like an alignment and that they are involved in the creative process.”
Getting client buy-in is just one piece of the puzzle. Taylor’s design approach is research and insight-led, governed by the end consumers’ fundamental truths and challenges. She continually checks back to ensure the project is on the right track. “I think it’s important that at every stage of the process, you have a clear grounding insight statement or bedrock on which to build and pressure test your ideas,” she says.
Taylor also thrives on the standard industry pressure, finding the sweet spot while she’s under the proverbial gun. “Honestly, under pressure is often where I do my best work,” she says. “It’s actually when the excitement and adrenaline kicks in that I”m forced to create something really experimental.”