How I got here
with Natalie Hart, Copywriter at DesignStudio
— November 2020
We spoke to Copywriter, Natalie Hart about her journey into the world of words. Natalie has been working at DesignStudio for the last two and a half years helping to whip their writing into shape. Here, she shares a few words on what she does every day alongside designers and strategists and why a writer should also be thinking about the visual application.
Who are you?
What do you do?
I’m a copywriter!
Where are you based?
London, at a digital branding agency called DesignStudio
Where can we find your work?
Where did your journey in the creative industry begin?
I did a Graphic Design degree at Kingston, then moved to Amsterdam to intern at a creative agency. I came from a uni that preferred concepts over practical skills, so was surprised to find that proper, gridded-up graphic design was the bulk of the role. I quickly realised the job I should be doing was over with the copywriters on the next table. Ideas + words suited me much better than ideas + design…
I quickly realised the job I should be doing was over with the copywriters on the next table. Ideas + words suited me much better than ideas + design…
How did you first hear about copywriting?
I first heard about copywriting as an advertising role, but didn’t know that design has interesting projects for writers too. A lot of agencies are starting to do both, so you don’t necessarily need to choose between design, branding and advertising.
How did you bag your first role working as a Copywriter?
I took my mashup of a student design portfolio and teased out the verbal parts of each project. I then turned this into a very early ‘portfolio’ and posted it to a Creative Director I’d met who was a copywriter. After interning with him for a few months I managed to get another internship, and then a permanent job. I really didn’t have much at that stage – so was lucky to meet a couple of people who saw potential!
How did you feel about starting this journey? Did you ever doubt your abilities?
100%. Us writers are an angsty bunch. But after a while you relax and trust your ability to hand something in.
Is there someone who has really helped you in your career or the shift from Graphic Design?
@louiezeegen hired me and was there for the blood, sweat, and tears of being a newborn junior. He also taught me the difference between an em-dash and an en-dash.
So, what do you actually do every day?
I work with designers and strategists to create brands. Working with strategists usually involves writing manifestos or short scripts that bring to life a strategic direction. With designers, it’s helping with concepts and creating the verbal personality for the brand.
However, this job’s never just verbal. You always need to keep an eye on the bigger picture and think visually.
This job’s never just verbal. You always need to keep an eye on the bigger picture and think visually.
How would you describe the role of copywriting to a stranger down the pub? What do you do?
Creative writing, but in a commercial sense. Instead of stories and poems we’re writing manifestos, scripts, and tones of voice. We’re also naming companies and doing bits of advertising.
What are the top tools in your Copywriting toolkit?
- Bring ideas to the table that aren’t words. (You’ve got a free pass for bad sketches so don’t be shy)
- Present your stuff back to the group in a slides or keynote doc. It’s easier for people to digest and puts more onus on your work.
- Have a rationale for any creative decisions you make with language. It’s easy to get carried away with a feeling, but you need to at least appear logical...
- Always check your work once it’s been put into design. A perfect copy and paste is rare!
In one line, tell us why you do this role.
It’s fun, I get to write every day.
I’m a Graphic Design graduate who’s interested in copywriting, where do I start?
Start writing! Even if it’s just small things that don’t seem like much.
Pull out the verbal aspects of old uni work. Maybe you made a chair once? Name it, build out an imaginary brand for it. Maybe you did a lookbook once? Write a mood story for the collection.
Get annoyed at the news and make a meme...
Try and go somewhere with at least one senior writer. You need someone to learn from…
What advice would you want to share with someone embarking on their copywriting journey?
Try and go somewhere with at least one senior writer. You need someone to learn from, and a lot of design agencies don’t have copywriters at all. (This is a red flag for you.)
Don’t worry about a lack of formal experience. Set your sights high and apply anywhere you like the look of. Biggest, best, hardest to get into – whatever! It’s your shot just as much as anyone else’s.
What would you like to see change for young people starting out in the industry?
I think we could protect interns’ time better – maybe implementing teeny contracts. And more open conversations about money would be a great thing! No one should ever feel embarrassed to ask.
Words by Natalie Hart
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