Interview with Steve Waugh

1. When did you realise you wanted to be a designer?

I can’t ever remember there being an alternative to creating images in some form. I was always drawing or playing around with software as far back as Deluxe Paint. The idea of moving from still images to moving images came at the end of my illustration degree, when I saw Kyle Cooper’s title sequence for SE7EN. There was an epiphany of realising that I could really create personal and expressive work in a commercial environment.

2. How did you get started and what was the biggest hurdle you overcame?

My biggest hurdle was a personal one of stepping away from a life I loved in Devon and starting a career in London. Once I was here, I was lucky enough to be offered a few months work experience at Mainframe. After that I took a running position at Rushes which gave me a great grounding in the industry. I met many wonderful people back then who I’m still friends and colleagues with today.

3. What’s been your most successful way of getting clients?

I’m not traditionally a salesy person but I’m learning to love getting out there and meeting new agencies, production studios and clients. I believe in our purpose as well as our work so it’s very easy to engage with people. Beyond that I rely on reputation, word of mouth and the wonderful people around me at Coffee & TV. I also believe that whilst the work we create may be an advert for a client’s product or service it’s also an advert for ourselves. It all boils down to creating work you’re proud of in the first place.

4. How do you get clients to stay with you and use you for more work?

The way I build relationships with clients is by putting everything I can into each and every project. To quote Kyle Cooper (and Ecclesiastes 9:10) “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might”. I also aim to be completely honest, open and transparent and in making every project a collaborative effort. That’s a great foundation for enjoying the journey of a project.

5. Do you ever have issues with clients paying late? How do you manage that?

We’re a collective of specialists and that’s really not my specialism.

6. What does your typical workday look like?

I’d love to talk about a process of calmly preparing myself for the day but in all honesty my mornings are wonderful but frenetic and chaotic, taking care of animals and getting the kids to school. Once that’s out of the way I can take the dogs for a walk and calm my mind. My working day is a complete contrast to my home life, I like to get myself organised and give myself the time to do things properly. It’s a cliche but every day is different, just like every project is. I’ll inevitably have some scheduled client meetings, for both new projects and project reviews. Then I’ll have some regular internal meetings. Around that I’ll be fitting in internal project and pitch reviews. I’m far less hands on than I used to be but I still like to get hands on, that’s when I can hit a nice flow state, I’ll always love that feeling of creating something.

7. Any piece of advice/wisdom that you’d like to give the readers at This Design Life?

Work with people who are better than you.

Enjoy the process.

Connect with
Steve Waugh

Connect with Steve on LinkedIn

Coffee & TV website

More strategies to boost your design career

Steve Waugh is a renowned Creative Director, Motion Designer and Director with a passion for title sequences, VFX and design. Having originally trained in illustration, he has nearly 20 years experience working in design and VFX studios. After joining the Coffee & TV team when the company started in 2012, Steve leads the studio’s creative strategy and output.

He has worked predominantly in the advertising and broadcast markets, producing work for a range of clients including Netflix, BBC, ITV, Sky, Facebook, Tanqueray and McLaren. Steve has twice been nominated for a prestigious BAFTA and has won multiple accolades, including an RTS Craft Award, a Televisual Bulldog Award, Promax Awards and Gold at the New York Film Festival.

Interview published on: Sep 12, 2022

Check out these other designers

Ruben Cespedes

Ruben Cespedes

When did you realize you wanted to be a designer? Well, it's quite a journey. Ever since I was a little kid, I was...

Tom Muller

Tom Muller

When did you realise you wanted to be a designer? I knew from very young age I wanted to do *something* creative. Both...

Liz Mosley

Liz Mosley

When did you realise you wanted to be a designer? After studying art at school and thinking I wanted to be a...