Senior Designer at Great Ormond Street Hospital, Jo Satchell, on graphic design for a charity and the importance of keeping perspective.

How did you land your position at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH)?

I worked in a number of small agencies before I started at GOSH. It was so valuable getting experience from a range of agencies after graduating. It made me realise what was important to me and, during this time, I was happiest when I was working with a cause or brand that I cared about. So I made sure I started looking at design jobs in the third sector. I’d been giving some of my monthly pocket money to Great Ormond Street Hospital since I was around 8, so when the position at GOSH came up, it was a perfect fit.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Each day tends to be quite different. Our team works with all the fundraising teams across the charity which means we have the chance to work on a real variety of design projects. One day I might be thinking up concepts for a new public fundraising campaign, the next I’ll be creating a bespoke invite for a special event and the day after I’ll be working on a corporate partner pitch. Because our ‘clients’ (the fundraising teams) are working in the same building, I’m involved in a lot of face to face meetings, presentations and brainstorms.

"I was happiest when I was working with a cause or brand that I cared about, so I made sure I started looking at design jobs in the third sector."

Jo 2
Then Now Always: Anthony Burrill for Great Ormond Street Hospital

What was your first ever design project?

Making a really ugly business card as part of my year 9 work experience. I think I might have used Papyrus... 

What are the biggest challenges of your job?

Sometimes it’s easy to forget why we’re here. When you’re bogged down in the little stresses of a design project, it’s easy to lose perspective. A quick walk around the hospital wards chatting to patients and families is the very best way to regain that perspective. It always reminds me why I’m here and how lucky I am to be able to play a small part in a big picture.   

What are the main tools you use in your work?

Like most designers, we do most our work using Adobe Creative Suite. However, if I were to choose one thing that is most required in our job, on a daily basis, it would be empathy. It can be difficult when one of the patients we’ve met and photographed passes away. When we’re designing anything, we try to make sure we’re putting the needs of the patient and their families above everything else.     

"When you’re bogged down in the little stresses of a design project, it’s easy to lose perspective."

What is the best (or worst) piece of professional advice you have been given?

As a child, I loved Roald Dahl and I think this quote from him is great advice to remember in both work and life generally: “I began to realise how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. If you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it at full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good. Hot is no good either. White hot and passionate is the only thing to be.”

What would your advice be to young graphic designers? 

Try doing a personal project. If you have a cause that you really believe in, set yourself a brief relating to that cause and go about finding ways to address it. Your voice, beliefs and experiences are the most valuable tools you have, so don’t be afraid to use them. The world will always need people wanting to change it for the better. Charities and not-for-profit organisations are becoming more open to the value of creativity and new ways of thinking, so it’s a great time to be a creative starting out in the sector.

"Vehicles like social media are making it so much easier for messages to reach new audiences in original ways."

Jo 1
Then Now Always: Finn Crispin for Great Ormond Street Hospital

What projects are you excited about?

Lots of charities are doing exciting things right now and embracing digital trends. They’re starting to approach campaigns with the same ambition and creativity of a high-end brand, and are no longer saying ‘we can’t do that because we’re a charity’. They don’t have big budgets but vehicles like social media are making it so much easier for messages to reach new audiences in original ways. 

The other day on the bus, I saw a street art slogan in Camden, which said “Slogans in nice typefaces won’t save the human race”. It made me smile when I thought about it in relation to my job as a graphic designer at a children’s hospital. I agree with it in principle but I also think designers can really influence how people behave, and how they choose to spend their time and money.

"Designers can really influence how people behave, and how they choose to spend their time and money."

Jo 3
Then Now Always: Graphic designs for the Great Ormond Street Hospital campaign

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