In our latest Industry Insider, we spoke to Peter Burt about his role as Senior Graphic Designer at Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur, his career in sport so far and much more…
Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?
My name is Peter Burt and I’m a Senior Graphic Designer at Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, currently working through my second full season.
I moved to London in April 2022 after working at Hibernian Football Club for four years where I held the roles of Digital Development Executive, Creative Manager, and most recently Brand Manager. Prior to working in football, I had a short stint as a Graphic Designer in a Minuteman Press franchise as well as two years as an Architectural Assistant with Fouin + Bell Architects in Edinburgh.
What do you do in your current role?
I work as part of our in-house creative team, a talented group of people that tackle some really big projects and all push each other to get the best results. We service many facets of the business so there’s always a steady stream of briefs coming in day to day. We’re a relatively new team, but in the two seasons that we’ve been fully established as an internal studio we’ve taken big strides in the impact we’ve been able to have.
This season we’ve been able to roll out a matchday look and feel that unifies the appearance of all our matchday comms and collateral, as well as working with the stadium production team to enhance the stadium atmosphere through motion design for the in-bowl screens and LED ribbons.
I’ve a few personal highlights in my role so far; designing the visual identity and toolkit for Harry Kane’s club record-breaking goal was one of my proudest achievements, given the magnitude of the record and the importance of Harry in the context of the club’s history. The rollout was extensive and included a retail range with limited edition prints as part of the club campaign. My favourite part was seeing the numbers of fans taking photos of the atrium screen within the stadium on the night that he scored the goal against Manchester City in February.
I’m also particularly proud of my involvement in the recent refresh of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium brand. Working closely with the rest of the team, I designed and developed the brand guidelines that have given the stadium a voice of its own, separating it from the football club and supporting third-party events such as the NFL London games, boxing, rugby and concerts.
“Normal” isn’t a thing in sport so what does an “average” week look like for you?
Since joining Spurs, I now have a more dedicated role within a specialist area and there’s less ‘variety’ to my week now than there was at Hibs. I’ve done many different things during my time in football, travelled to film European matches, designing the players’ tunnel at Easter Road, operating v-mix during live broadcasts and being on hand to announce deadline day signings – to list but a few!
I also had the great pleasure of designing all three Hibs kits for the 2021/22 season, from concept through to launch, which involved some great experiences including a visit to Toledo where the technical sponsors, Joma, are based out in Spain.
Day-to-day at Spurs I’m based at the club offices at Lilywhite House – next to the stadium, but I work between there and the training centre depending on the need for photography shoots or branding projects.
I am fortunate to be working at arguably the best stadium in the world, certainly one that has set the precedent for multi-purpose use. The benefit of that is that the scope of our department is set beyond football, so the variation in our work is amazing.
Currently I am working on the design and branding for F1 Drive, which is the world’s first official F1 karting experience, set to open within the stadium in the new year. It’s a great challenge to be working with the IP of such an illustrious brand and helping to establish a new identity for a ground-breaking visitor attraction.
How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?
I’ve always loved football. I grew up a Hearts fan and like many other kids, I harboured dreams of a becoming a footballer. My ability was never close to matching that ambition, but fortunately I also loved drawing and wanted to pursue a creative career.
I always thought that would be architecture, and leaving school I went on to study MA (Hons) Architecture at The University of Edinburgh. The course itself was challenging but I enjoyed the creative nature of the projects we were given.
For me, the reality of working in practice was quite different, and I found that I was seeking that creative release in my own time through drawing and personal design projects, always centred around sport. I decided then that going forward my focus was going to be on making that career transition to a job in football that allowed me to be creative and be expressive every day.
What is your number one focus when it comes to your work?
To enjoy it and make the most of the experiences that come with working for a football club at this level. Every job will have it’s good and bad days, but I try to always appreciate where I am and the work that I am doing. It’s easy in a fast-paced environment like a football club to jump from project to project without reflecting on your work or the impact that it has on others, but it’s always a nice reminder of why you do it.
Can you tell us about a time you failed and what you learned from it?
What immediately springs to mind for me are the number of jobs or opportunities that I applied for on the way to the jobs that I’ve had. Most people only see the end product, but there were a lot of ‘what ifs’ and rejections along the way, especially before landing my first role at Hibs. I wouldn’t necessarily categorise them all as failures, but I think I’ve always been quite good at taking the positives from them and applying my learnings to the next opportunity that comes along.
I find the honesty of being self-critical quite refreshing, if you can accept that you maybe didn’t do something well enough, then you hold yourself to a higher standard the next time. I think as a creative you are always reflecting on past work and picking out the parts that you would improve if you had the chance again.
What are you excited about in your industry at the moment?
I think that within sport there is a greater emphasis on brand and creative than ever before. Football clubs generally have been a little slow on the uptake compared to those in other sports, however there is a growing appreciation of the long-term value that a strong brand can bring. I think that will result in bigger dedicated in-house teams and more roles within the industry. I’m also really excited about the cultural crossover between sport, entertainment, and fashion.
I think that, more than clubs, players and athletes continue to have the greatest influence in this regard and the drive for individuality will lead to more creative personalisation and personal brand building. The growth of the women’s game is a key component in this as well, as it is attracting a whole new audience that were maybe not previously engaged with the sport at all and have an overlap with different interests that perhaps don’t come with a traditional football fanbase.
If you could change one thing about your Industry, what would you change?
Football can be a difficult industry to work in and entry roles are often much lower-paid than an equivalent role in a different discipline. I still see some top-tier clubs offering extremely low salaries for creative roles and expecting a lot in return with regards to working hours and deliverables.
Working in football shouldn’t be a test of endurance and neither should it present itself as a choice between a decent salary or a career that you are passionate about. Hopefully this is something that will be improved upon in the future.
Sport is a hectic industry, what do you do to switch off?
I think generally I’m quite good at separating the pressures of work from my free time, however a lot of the things that I consider hobbies are still centred around football and creativity. Recently I’ve been trying out football boot customisation, it’s a work in progress as there’s a lot to learn to get it right, but it keeps me off the laptop!
I love playing football and I have a few regular games that I play on the weekends and evenings through the week, it’s a great release and socially it’s really good fun. My partner and I enjoy travelling and visiting new places, so a couple of holidays are usually not too far on the horizon for us either.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?
Never disregard your own prior experience in a different industry just because you think it might be irrelevant. Look for the overlapping skillsets between jobs or experiences that you have had in the past and think about how they might apply to a role in the world of sport.
I’ve learnt to use my background in architecture to differentiate the work that I do from others that have maybe followed a more linear path into graphic design. It can be extremely useful when you can highlight any abilities that you have which are over and above the requirements of the role.
I’d also strongly encourage using your free time to take on some personal projects. Aside from providing additional portfolio material, they also tend to be projects that you are very passionate about and are not constrained by deadlines! You never know who might see them or what opportunities might come of it.
How to connect with Peter Burt…
I’m most active on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/burtpeter
My personal website is peterburt.co.uk