Our latest edition of Industry Insider sees us travel to the other side of the globe and the world of Rugby League as we chat with Creative and Brand Lead for the Gold Coast Titans, Tara Campbell-Barry!
Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?
My name is Tara Campbell-Barry. I’m a creative leader, currently living on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia.
Most of my career was spent in Melbourne (Australia’s sporting capital). My first role after graduating from RMIT University in Melbourne (printing & graphic arts) was at Ticketmaster Australasia, looking after their graphic design for Australia and New Zealand. I started at Ticketmaster as a Graphic Designer and finished after 6 years as the Senior Designer with two staff in my team. In this position, I looked after all print & web creative and collaborated with Ticketmaster HQ in Los Angeles for UI and UX design.
After Ticketmaster, I accepted a role at Richmond Football Club (part of the Australian Football League) where I worked for 6 seasons as Creative & Brand Lead.
My role at Richmond was to deliver creative requirements for the business and commercial partners as well as manage the brand, create social content, art direction for photoshoots, work closely with commercial partners like Puma and Jeep – the whole gamut! Originally it was just me at Richmond but, by the end of my time there, our team increased to myself, another full time designer and an intern. The workload was relentless but very rewarding – we won a premiership in 2017 after a 37 year drought.
What do you do in your current role?
My current role is Creative & Brand Lead at the Gold Coast Titans. The Titans were the newest team in the NRL (National Rugby League), joining in 2007, however this title has been taken by another team that enters the league in 2023.
My title is self-explanatory, I manage the creative requirements for the business and work with a team of highly passionate individuals to create content, marketing material, advertising, brand pieces, videos, motion graphics… the list is truly endless!
Outside of the Marketing department, I also support the wider business of Commercial Partnerships, Community, Consumer & Membership, Ticketing, the Executive team, the Titans Board, the Football department, Player Welfare and Finance departments. It’s safe to say there’s a lot going on.
“Normal” isn’t a thing in sport so what does an “average” week look like for you?
At the time of writing this, we’ve just kicked off pre-season 2023.
For me, an average week in the off-season includes pulling together a creative brief for our major content shoot taking place in January, liaising with photographers and illustrators, launching our 2023 membership & corporate packages, updating all asset and creative templates for 2023, updating commercial requirements, changing over sponsors on multiple touchpoints, releasing the 2023 draw, creating content for new-signings, purchase orders, liaising with suppliers (printers, signwriters) for new signage and content. Plus doing all the things I put off in-season.
Honestly, it’s so much busier in the off-season than during the football season so myself and my team have a good laugh when people ask what we do when there’s no games being played.
How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?
In 2017, after six seasons (and a premiership) at Richmond Football Club in Melbourne I moved to the Gold Coast to be closer to my family. I saw the role at the Titans advertised on social and decided to dip my toes into the NRL.
I grew up in an AFL state (Victoria), so in starting a role in the NRL I had to learn a whole new league of players, teams, history, rules, and politics.
There’s something special about working in a team environment like sport and as a team all working towards that common goal of winning a premiership and enriching the lives of fans and members in the Gold Coast community. Winning together feels damn good on game day.
What is your number one focus when it comes to your work?
To me, in a service-based role, it’s important that I focus on understanding each person’s job requirements. Who is the target audience for the creative and what sort of eyeballs will be seeing this?
Is it a Reel going on Instagram or is it for a closed room of players and coaches at a team meeting? Tone, messaging and imagery always changes to suit the desired audience and is always at the forefront of what we do in the design team. A huge focus for us is to ensure we’re connecting with the end user.
Another focus for me is ensuring that the Titans brand integrity is maintained whether it’s pieces our Marketing team are producing with third parties or something our commercial partners are putting out on their social channels. Regardless of the channel or medium, it’s important that the Titans brand maintains consistency.
It’s also important to stay on top of the design game, new techniques and programs are fun to explore and incorporate new technology and concepts keep our designs fresh while staying on brand with our core colours and fonts.
Can you tell us about a time you failed and what you learned from it?
Oh my. One that sticks out?
Early on in my career maybe 10 years ago, I sent an expensive job to print without doing a granular check of the artwork proof which had a mistake on it.
It ended up being an expensive mistake, but I never made it again! I always get people to cross-check bespoke jobs now (my artwork and others), it’s better to be safe than sorry.
What are you excited about in your industry at the moment?
In the NRL, there’s a real buzz in our Club and the wider league with the start of a new season ahead. We have new players in the mix at the Titans, a new jersey and renewed energy. The guys are well rested from being able to travel properly again. Our captain went to the World Cup and played for Australia (ICYMI, Australia won the World Cup!)
In the design industry itself, I am super excited to see more women in sports design. I follow a bunch of impressive female Australian talent at the North Queensland Cowboys, Parramatta Eels, Melbourne Storm and the Penrith Panthers. It’s such a masculine industry and the work these women are pumping out is extraordinary. I also follow a bunch of female designers in the NFL. I’m excited for women to get the exposure they deserve!
If you could change one thing about your Industry, what would you change?
Sports design can be super competitive. On social media there’s a hyper focus in sports design for self-promotion.
The self-promotion aspect sports design just isn’t me and a few people I work with, within the industry are mostly the same. They pump out great work without ever promoting themselves. I like that humble aspect if I’m honest!
I’m quite fortunate that my work is seen by millions of people a year without me having to self-promote. I’m trying to get better at sharing my work under my own name on Instagram, I may post the occasional story but for the most part I lay low – a lot of the work I am most proud of doesn’t get published on social media.
Sport is a hectic industry, what do you do to switch off?
I go to BFT (Bodyfit) 4-5 mornings a week which does absolute wonders for my mental health, physical wellbeing, and life routine. Other than that, just the usual stuff – playing guitar, reading Reddit, getting coffee with my girlfriends. Living on the Gold Coast means lots of sand and sun!
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?
One!? I could do a whole Ted Talk! Be willing to work your way up. By that, I mean don’t expect to be at the top of your game a year or two into your design career – there’s a wealth of knowledge for you to soak up.
Working in sport is relentless (we work 6 days a week in season), so make sure you have a great support network as well as ways you can decompress in the time you have off. The Calm app has helped me a lot with life stressors which in turn makes me a better friend and employee.
Also, a lot of people don’t see the behind the scenes work of being a designer in sport – you do a lot of ‘unglamorous’ work that generally wouldn’t see the light of day on social media but is often more important to the business operations than your typical slick game day graphic. You need to do the unglamorous work to do the glamorous stuff.
How to follow Tara Campbell-Barry…
Thanks for reading our chat with Tara Campbell-Barry! If you want to read more from our Industry Insider series, you can do so by clicking here.