Giving something back

08/10/2019 by Phil Shackleton

As a company, we believe it is important to give something back. We do this in many ways; by giving our time teaching at a number of Universities, by inviting students into our team on placements and we also organise Work in the Web which is delivered free of charge, every year.

For the past five years, Work in the Web has been our opportunity to do something meaningful and we encourage everyone in our company to get involved. We teach the skills and principles of modern web design and share our in-depth knowledge of the industry. Attendees also have the opportunity to learn about the day-to-day operations at Mixd to gain real-world work experience and on-the-job skills. We’re an approachable bunch and feel it’s important to offer practical, actionable insights yet at the same time have fun!

The student that wouldn’t go away!

So, you might ask why? Why do we do this? I’ve worked in the industry for over 20 years and have been given my fair share of opportunities along the way. But there is one particular event that changed my thinking and contributes to our approach here at Mixd. When I was 16 years old I was able to organise work experience with a local design company. I was over the moon as whilst my friends went off to input data into spreadsheets and make tea in mundane office based placements, I was able to gain insight into a career that I really wanted to do. I spent two weeks designing and laying out brochures in some fancy new software I’d never heard of called QuarkXPress. I learnt what ‘kerning’ was, got overly excited about the Pantone book but most importantly, I was let loose with the office Omnicrom machine.

Omnicrom hot foil

For those young enough to have no idea what I’m talking about, Omnicrom machines first came into this country back in the early 1980s. They were hailed as revolutionary as for the first time you could hot foil print onto paper or card without a block or die. Because of the expense involved in the foil sheet it was largely used to make one-off client proofs. I absolutely loved it and was immediately hooked.

I’d photocopy my final mock-ups from college projects and bring them in to feed through the machine. Under heat the foil sheets adhere to the carbon in the toner from your printout and turns it whatever colour the foil is. The results were quite varied and to the frustration of the company, I’d waste dozens of foils trying to get a perfect finish.

I quickly realised that with Omnicrom I could produce high quality ‘professional’ looking artwork and naturally wanted to use it for all my college projects. And that’s exactly what happened. I finished my placement in the summer of 1996 and persisted in annoying my new friends by visiting them on a regular basis that summer. At first they were happy to see me, I’d rock up, make a round of tea and help out with whatever I could. I listened, watched and learnt. I also asked a lot of questions and of course, made regular use of the office Omnicrom machine!

Looking back now, the Omnicrom machine was simply my excuse to be there. I’d call up and ask “Is it ok if I pop down this afternoon and use the Omnicrom machine?” and was always greeted with an overwhelming friendly response even if they were working a tight deadline. They were open and welcoming, friendly and supportive and without doubt helped focus my attention.

I am, to this day, eternally grateful to the support and help they provided me. You know who you are. Without their support and guidance I’m not sure I’d have ever taken the career path I did.

Thank you.

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