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Hayley Watchorn

Hayley Watchorn

Fellow northerner Hayley has stormed her career in Graphic Design. Since studying in Bristol and being contacted for a job at her degree show, she's found herself working with some of London's biggest agencies for clients like Chanel, Mizuno and Diesel. She's come a long way since her childhood on a farm and has now returned to Bristol to reconnect with old friends and persue her new burgeoning career as a florist.

When was the first time you really realised you were a creative person?

When I was at primary school. I've loved art and making things since I was a kid. Luckily I had some great parents and teachers that nurtured it from an early age.

Tell me about your path to where you are now

I grew up on a farm so when I told my folks I was going to art college it came a little as a surprise. But they were right behind my decision and I went onto uni here in Bristol and got a first degree in graphic design. I loved film making but decided to take a job offer in web design at my graduate show as I was one of a lucky few to have industry interest right away. I'm so glad I did. Digital design has surpassed my imagination in terms of the possibilities now available in this medium. I did a few music videos along the way too to satiate a hands on feeling. But all of those hours indoors looking at computer screens made me crave working with nature again. I decided to take up a florist course in between freelance jobs for the laugh and had no idea how much I'd fall in love with flowers. I love how working with nature contrasts to the pure lines of graphic design. So now I balance the two careers to balance both sides of my creativity.

The idea of living in an urban city with accessibility to nature everyday sparked my imagination.


Did going to uni in Bristol shape your creative output in any way?

I studied at Bower Ashton. It was its position in the woodland in Ashton Court that drew me to it. The idea of living in an urban city with accessibility to nature everyday sparked my imagination.
I guess I've come full circle back to the same theory now.
Contrast is key.

After graduating you went straight to London, what were the first 4 yrs in London like? How long did it take you to build a client base when you went freelance?

I began working as a junior in the early days at Dare. I cut my teeth in the best way, learning how concept is key. A strong idea will resonate if it's executed well. I was also blessed to have been given the opportunity to work on many of their larger client accounts so I had a good experience early in my career. That company grew twice over in my time there so I made lots of design friends along the way and was blessed to work with many of them again when I hit the freelance scene in my forth year. They really set me up for a successful start in the big city. Thanks Flo, Mark and John.

So there was a point where you started your own company, tell us about why you decided to do that.

I worked full time for about five years but I had an itch to explore other ways of thinking and approaches to design so I decided to freelance to pack as many experiences in as I could. You learn so much when you move from company to company and client to client, I feel you become more fulfilled the more people you can learn from. 


When I first set out in digital I thought I had to act more aggressively to be noticed, but as I matured I feel that in retrospect it's been my femininity that's probably got me further in the long run.

What's a moment In your career when you've done a metaphorical or actual air punch and really felt proud of yourself?

I definitely remember doing and mini air punch when I walked into the Chanel headquarters in Paris to present my creative work. I laughed to myself as it was probably the last place I thought I'd ever be when I was driving a tractor on the farm as a teenager. I had another actual air punch when I installed my first floral wedding commission, it was one of those 'I did it!' moments.

What's your take on being a girl in quite a male-heavy industry? Do you look at it like that or has it not really factored?

I've always had a bit of a tomboy attitude in life. When I first set out in digital I thought I had to act more aggressively to be noticed, but as I matured I feel that in retrospect it's been my femininity that's probably got me further in the long run. It gave my opinion and perspective more  of a unique appearance in a masculine surround. I have also had a very good experience with the companies I've worked with that sexism and inequality have never been an issue.

What is the biggest career/creative risk you've taken so far?

Definitely floristry. It was effectively starting again but in a way it feels so familiar. I'm still creating, innovating and presenting, it's just in a different medium.

Have you had any mentors along the way?

Most people I've worked with have effected some aspect of how I work or think. I learned a lot from one of my creative directors Simon Heys. He is an unassuming character and an extremely talented creative. He taught me fundamental design theories and strategic approaches to branding. He also demonstrated how you don't have to be loud to be heard. I'm still working on the latter one.

Any particular words of wisdom that have stuck with you?

My uni friends brother was a very talented graphic designer and he blessed me with some wisdom in my final year that's proved sage advice: 'don't try and be cool, try and find something new.'

As you've gotten older do you think your attitude or thoughts around your creativity and career changed?

Definitely. Ive learned to be more confident in my opinion but also chill out with trying to be right about everything. Listen and learn kids!

When do you feel most creatively satisfied?

When I've just finished a job. Whether is  fixing the last flower or placing the last pixel I love the sense of achievement when you can step away and see the vision you once had in its finished form.

Is there anything you wish you'd been told when you started out?

Don't take it too personally. Work can be emotional for creative people as your work is often a reflection of you. But it helps if you can switch on a little amour in those client meetings.

So, we're at your wake and you're floating above us as a ghost. What's the one thing you'd like to overhear someone say about you?

She was a laugh!


Check out more of Hayley's graphic design work here
You can see more of her floristry work here

Gail Jenkinson

Gail Jenkinson