As a child, Nathan Joyce wanted to be a cartoonist. Today, he works as a Creative at PROPERCORN, and here he describes the journey he took to get there.

"I would spend countless hours creating characters for imaginary worlds, or watching cartoons"

What did you want to be growing up?

There’s an old family video where I declare with defiant determination that what I want to do when I grow up is “Pick up rocks and blow bubbles”. I’m not sure where that savvy business plan came from – as I remember it, I always wanted to be a cartoonist. 

I would spend countless hours creating characters for imaginary worlds, or watching cartoons – purely for research and ideation purposes, of course. That dream took on various guises as I grew up - concept artist, game designer, animator and comic artist, but I always circled illustration and imaginary worlds. 

What did you study at university, and why?

My childhood quest to be a cartoonist transitioned naturally into the world of digital design as I grew up. I started to discover a love of photography, digital illustration, editing and animation. This led to an ongoing internal debate about in what I want to specialise. I studied Graphic Design at the University of Huddersfield as a sort of happy medium; it allowed me to keep playing in a whole bunch of areas. 

"I very rarely find myself doing something I find mundane"

Monster Mash
PROPERCORN: Monster Mash

How has this impacted the journey to where you are today?

A turning point in my time at uni was when, as part of my course, I spent a year starting a design agency with two course-mates. It was a terrible business from a cash-flow perspective, but a brilliant experience for working on real briefs with real timelines - something of which I feel university can do a poor job. It also gave me the space I needed to experiment with styles and areas of design. 

What does a typical working day look like as a Creative at PROPERCORN?

From 9 ‘till 1 I’m absorbed by thoughts of what Ed our Chef is making for lunch. After a little regret at eating too much, I can get down to work. 

Thoughts for food aside, there really is no typical working day as my job changes on a project to project basis. Some days might be entirely devoted to brainstorming and creating gifting for a new product launch, or I might spend the day shooting the months Instagram content and campaigns. The variation means it’s always fresh and exciting - I very rarely find myself doing something I find mundane. 

What skills are essential to your job?

My job is a pretty even split between design, photography and illustration. So in terms of software, a solid understanding of Photoshop, Illustrator and Indesign are essential. We’ve started to experiment with video and animation more so I’m learning that as I go.

But technical know-how is just half the job; I also spend a lot of time on creative ideation, cardboard engineering and making scamps. 

Kids Packs
PROPERCORN Kids: Packaging

What has been your most exciting project to date, and why? 

The ‘PROPERCORN For Kids’ range was a dream project for me. Working on everything from the initial concepts, to packaging, to conjuring up and illustrating the 75 collectable Cornivore cards was so much fun. All those years of ignoring academic studies in favour of drawing monsters and reading Dr. Seuss finally paid off. 

Another hugely exciting project has been working on our recent brand evolution. We have worked with different creative talent around the world to bring each pack to life. It’s been brilliant to see how each artist has approached their flavour, and I’ve had the honour of illustrating the Sun-Dried Tomato & Chilli pack.  

What was the best professional advice you received in the early days of your career? Are there any standout influencers or mentors that helped you along the way?

Becky, head of brand creative here at Propercorn, says I’m fired if I don’t list her as a standout influencer and mentor. 

Jokes aside (!), Becky and Cassandra have given me an amazing platform to explore and develop in the areas I love most. Designing a double decker bus wrap in my first 6 months was as daunting as it was useful, and I’ve been given the time and equipment to up my photography game. 

My mum and dad, I’m sure, would be appalled if they didn’t get a shout out here: they always advised me to find a career in something I love doing, and boy do I love snacks. 

Full Range Updated
PROPERCORN: New packaging designs
Cornivore 3
PROPERCORN Kids: Cornivore cards
Kids Multi
PROPERCORN Kids: Packaging

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