We head to the world of Formula 1 to speak to the Graphic Designer of Oracle Red Bull Racing, Jake Paul about how he broke into the sport industry with a law degree!
Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?
I’m Jake Paul, a Graphic Designer at Oracle Red Bull Racing.
I don’t have any graphic design qualifications or any fancy awards. I’m a self taught creative who graduated with a law degree and now finds himself working in the sports industry, specifically Formula 1, having fallen into it back in 2017.
I got my start in sport, working agency-side at Right Formula, working with clients across various sports, but it was F1 that captured my imagination and became a prism for my creativity.
After a short sabbatical, I returned to sport, working for Formula 1 and now find myself working for the team that I rooted for as an F1 newbie and based my interview design task on for my job at Right Formula: Red Bull Racing.
What do you do in your current role?
It honestly varies so much. One hour I could be creating 3D mockups of the car for our commercial team to attract new partners, creating large format prints for our hospitality team and Paddock Club, the next I could be updating our assets for our Esports team.
No two days are the same as the brand team (the team I sit in) provides graphic based services the whole business.
“Normal” isn’t a thing in sport so what does an “average” week look like for you?
In a word: unpredictable. ‘Ebs and flows’ was a term my team at Right Formula used to describe the influx of work requests over the course of a sporting season and it’s still how I refer to it now. So much depends on the F1 schedule, what race it is, if we’re in a triple header etc.
During a more ‘predictable’ week, a lot of it is spent creating assets in the buildup to a race. Things like assets for Paddock Club, emails for our CRM team and decks for prospective (and existing) partner meetings at the track are just a few things that can pop up in my to-do list.
How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?
I’d blown my knee out, playing American football around Christmas 2016 and was hunting for a new job while rehabbing my knee. A recruiter rang me to discuss a role he had and whilst I’d usually ignore those types of calls, I took this one. I didn’t think I had the skill to work in sport yet, as I’d only just transitioned from working in finance to my first junior design job less than a year previously.
I got an interview, assumed I wouldn’t get the job but thought it would be great experience to have some experienced designers rip my new portfolio apart and found that they loved it and wanted to (later) offer me a job.
I would have loved to work in sport, but in all honesty, prior to that call with the recruiter, I thought it was fairly close to impossible to get into. I thought I’d already won the lottery by doing the ‘impossible’ by getting that first design job with the worlds worst portfolio (one side of A4!).
What is your number one focus when it comes to your work?
Pushing the edge. Formula 1 is all about pushing the car to it’s absolute limit and I use this as a mantra. I want to push design in Formula 1, further, whilst still respecting its rich heritage.
Can you tell us about a time you failed and what you learned from it?
I’d reached my breaking point working my job in finance, my mental health and physical health had taken a beating and I decided that if I didn’t at least *try* to achieve my dream of becoming a graphic designer, I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself.
Needless to say, this was a process that lasted several months and easily upwards of 600+ rejections from graphic design companies, studio’s etc around the UK and in Europe as I tried to get my first opportunity. What I learned during that process was discipline and endurance.
Discipline – to continue to apply despite the rejections and to learn more graphic design skills and keep updating my portfolio.
Endurance – to not give up hope that my graphic design dream would happen.
What are you excited about in your industry at the moment?
The influx of ‘new blood’ to Formula 1’s fandom and creators – the sport is *slowly* embracing graphic design to tell stories rather than solely using photography and it’s a trend I expect to continue as time goes on. This doesn’t just apply to F1 however, we’re seeing this in sport generally too.
If you could change one thing about your Industry, what would you change?
More diversity and inclusion. I’ve sat on D&I committees across sport and its clear to see that there is a lot of work to do, to attract more people into the industry from non-traditional backgrounds in. From a creative and personal point of view, I want to (and do what I can) to see more design and culture from young black creatives within Formula 1 and try to use my platform to, in the words of Virgil Abloh, ‘uplift more than a few’.
Sport is a hectic industry, what do you do to switch off?
I find creativity in other ways, photography is a relatively new interest I’ve picked up and have a real interest in developing as its a new outlet for creativity that also presents a challenge. I’m also lucky enough to have a very understanding and supportive partner who will also drag me kicking and screaming away from the computer screen at various points as well.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?
Working in sport is fantastic, however it can also be ruthless. Build a platform/brand for yourself and network like your life depends on it – it means that if *touch wood* your job comes to an end, you have a structure around you that highlights you as an individual, your expertise and skillset and makes you a viable and perceptible candidate for a prospective employer.
How to connect with Jake Paul…
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