Hicks.design is born

No longer a designer for Heinemann Publishers, I'm now freelance, going under the name Hicksdesign.

The words Hicks Design are made out of pairs of letters to look like chemical symbols: H1 Ck5 De5 I Gn
The first Hicks.design logo, designed in 2001.

The ship has been jumped. The big leap has been leapt. I've given up working for others and now work for myself.

Until today, Leigh and I both worked as Senior Designers in the Secondary Schools division at Heinemann Educational Publishers in Oxford.

This is something that's been gestating for a while - the potential flexibility of working hours and widening of design horizons was very appealing. While at Heinemann I met several people that told me their biggest regret was not being present enough when their children were younger. We didn't want Samantha, our six month old daughter, to be at Nursery more than she was with us. As Leigh was only allowed to reduce her hours to four days a week, but me going freelance would achieve that - Tuesdays and Fridays would be just Samantha and me.

I am 29 years old, and asleep on the sofa with my 3 month old daughter bundled on top of me, also asleep. The book 'Breast is Best' is on the sofa next to me
"Looking after" Samantha on one of my non-work days

There was also a professional aspect to this. We were solidly in the 'Print' design department at Heinemann, and I wanted to make the move to digital, but the nascent 'E-Learning' department was closed off to folks like me. I wouldn't get a chance to do any digital work in my role, so going freelance would be the only way I could get the space to learn.

The transition had started a year ago, learning web design with a free-with-magazine copy of Adobe Pagemill. My first ever URL was jphdesign.cwc.net - using free hosting supplied by our Cable and Wireless. Built in Pagemill on MacOS 9, using animated gifs and frames, this is all that is left of that site:

The homepage was in a black stripe, centered on a dark grey background. The images for the navigation are missing
The about page from the site reads 'Although I work for many different types of media, I specialise in wildlife illustration and digital collage work. My work has covered design and illustration for print, web and interpretive displays. I am reliable and flexible, keeping to schedules as well as creating them if required.
clients include: Heinemann Educational Publishers, Harper Collins, The Manchester University Museum, Edinburgh Royal Botanic Gardens, Lake District National Park'

At this point, I'd just ditched the unwieldy 'Jonathan Hicks Design & Illustration'. The logo was just a mashup of glyphs from Zapf Dingbats! I decided to simplify to 'Hicksdesign' and Leigh had purchased the 'hicksdesign.co.uk' domain name for me. I would've liked to have thought of a more creative business name, avoiding the crass 'New Media' naming thats fashionable was a priority. Awfully crass stuff like 'Toasted Squirrel'. Boring as it is, my surname, and what I do, will have to do.

It's scary to have stopped a regular income. I'm concerned about not working with other people, and wondering if I'm cut out for the solitary lifestyle of working from home. I have a couple of clients to get me started, so onwards!

The logo is a simple '//hicksdesign' in a light grey sans-serif font with an yellowy orange five petal flower logomark.
The updated Hicksdesign logo, at launch in January 2002. The double slash was a 'make it look internet-y' thing. It uses Apex Sans as the font.
The homepage from 2002 is now light grey with white boxes and a photo of a green unfurling leaf
Hicksdesign v2 - all created in Flash. Small pixel fonts and 45ª cut corners were very in at the time.

© 2002–23