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If you’re serious about getting your work out there in front of an audience, chances are you’ll have to give networking a try. Not only will it test your ability to balance a cup of tea, biscuits, your bag, coat and your business cards/ portfolio all in one hand, but it’s a great chance to meet like-minded creative types and have a go at making contacts in the industry.

We’ve recently attended a few events at the Northern Design Centre organised by Design Network North. They’re definitely an organisation to keep your eye on.. Not only is it a great resource for creatives in the region, but they organise some pretty useful events.

Rise and Design ShiftAs you know Shift’s approach to working is through collaboration, so getting the chance to network with other creative disciplines means we’ve met quite a few people we’re excited about working with in the future. If you’re considering attending next month make sure you come and say hello. We’ll be found next to the bacon sandwiches..

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If you head over to Shift HQ you’re not going to get very far without bumping into Mark Lenthall. After coming from a background in hand drawn animation and illustration, Mark is now part of the team that’s setting up the Shift internship program. He managed to find a few minutes to answer our questions about life at Shift..

WeAre_Shift: Mark Lenthall

How did you come to intern at Shift?

I was originally a design intern with Studio Precept. Then when Shift came about, Nick (the gaffer at Precept) and Andy (co-creator of Shift) seemed to want me on board. I wasn’t about to let an opportunity to be involved in something like this slip by!

What is your role in Shift?

Andy would say I’m his right hand man and that seems like a pretty fair description. I work with him to create the internship programme structure, build networks with suppliers and mentors and generally help to ‘build the brand’. I also like to get involved with the live briefs as I get a kick out of cross discipline working and love the off the wall ideas we come up with.

How is the programme collaborative? Are you working with any particular discipline that you hadn’t worked with before?

It’s basically what we’re all about, and not just in a superficial buzzwordy kind of way. Having come from a pretty varied background before getting into design, I’ve had the good fortune to work with lots of different people in the past. Without consciously looking for it, Shift turned out to be a continuation of that theme.

Are you learning any new skills from collaborating? Do you get to teach anyone new skills?

Oh yeah, how could you not learn new skills?! Whether it’s from the guys at Precept teaching me about design processes and getting the best from client relationships, to one of the interns telling me that my idea might actually be possible (sometimes not though!). I figure there’s always things to learn from other people, regardless of whether they’re graphic designers or not.

Yeah, I would like to think I’ve taught others new skills, not the flashy stuff I don’t suppose, but more about how to approach things and how to have a different perspective than others might – I just want people to think for themselves a bit more, see the bigger picture.

Has collaborating with other disciplines changed your attitude to how you work and/or working within the creative industry in general?

It’s made me a lot more confident when presenting my ideas, whilst being a bit less precious about them. I’d always heard that that’s what you were meant to be, but I never quite got my head around that until I came here. Now, I just throw it out there and see what happens. It’s not just me who can have ideas that need a bit of work on, you just need to go through a process to get that winning idea – getting other people involved usually equals better results!

What’s next?

Future plans? Tricky, that one. I’m involved with Shift & Precept now, and am focused on making that a success. Beyond that, who knows – I wasn’t expecting Shift to come along 12 months ago so I’m sure I won’t be expecting the next thing, whenever that happens. I’ll just make sure I always keep my ear to the ground!

Have you got a question for Mark? You can find him on Twitter @mark_lenthall..

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