From intern to design director: Karun Agimal.

Striking the right balance between humility and confidence is essential if you want to be a good leader. From intern to design director, Karun retraces his career with us, reflecting on how far he’s come on his journey to be the best designer he can be.

No matter where you are in your career, there’s always room to learn. A remarkable ability to grapple with new ideas and adapt has helped Karun rise through DixonBaxi, going from an intern to a design director in just five years.

After studying Graphic Communication at Birmingham Metropolitan College, Karun moved to London to further his education at the London College of Communication. Though he had applied to study art, he embarked on a different path when his teacher recognised his flair for graphic design and suggested he digitise his work. Things fell into place one after the other; he chanced upon an internship opening at DixonBaxi, and having been captivated by the studio’s work with Premier League at the time, he decided to apply. 

Karun sought an environment that would nurture his work from the start. His ambition paid off. “At first, there is a sense of autonomy, of not shying away from making mistakes,” he says, “And when you find the right idea, it’s about not being afraid to really get behind it and back yourself up.” His mentors pushed him to succeed by teaching him how to structure his time, work efficiently without sacrificing quality, and tell stories effectively and beautifully. 

“It’s important to have a bit of your own identity in your design and craft. And that’s something that you need time to hone.”

As an intern and a junior, “being mega humble around the experts and the level of talent around [him]” helped Karun learn quickly and widely. He recalls going to Senior Designer Harry Ead (now DixonBaxi’s creative director) for feedback, mentioning that Harry’s willingness to help and collaborate is something that he’s tried to emulate in all his roles.

“My first projects were for British Land. Then I worked on History Channel, some PlayStation stuff… Medi1, which is a Moroccan broadcasting channel,” he recalls. “And I'd bounce around doing the smallest tasks as well; things like hanging up work, helping in the studio, and setting up meeting rooms.”

To progress, he needed to take on greater responsibilities. He was increasingly involved in client meetings, creative output, and got to own bigger parts of projects, citing the rebrand of the iconic AC Milan club as a highlight. In his most recent project as a design director, he helmed the creation of MAX, the high-profile streaming platform born from Warner Bros. Discovery. “Leading MAX was a massive undertaking. There was an incredible opportunity to showcase the brand as the entertainment titan that it is, but that also meant there was a huge weight to every decision we made.”

“It was never a matter of asking for permission, but rather proving that I’m ready for more by elevating my work and letting the quality of the designs speak for themselves.”

The early years were full of challenges that taught him the balance between learning to lead projects while developing his personal style. The answer was focusing on what he excels at. “If I’m not so good at writing, then I’ll become an amazing designer. I’ll push myself to enhance the skills that I do have.” By knowing his strengths, Karun could better understand how to lead a team and when to delegate. “The good thing,” he adds, “is that no one expects you to wake up one day and suddenly have all the answers. You don’t wake up a finished article.” 

Each step in Karun’s career “came with a sense of expectation”. Even as a  design director, he admits the weight of the responsibility on his shoulders can be daunting. “I love and embrace the challenge every day, but it’s still intimidating at times.” It’s ultimately the idea of succeeding as a team that keeps him motivated; he wants to push others to succeed in the same way they’ve put their faith in him. “Talent is only one part of the job,” he says. “It’s the people around me, and the drive to do things well so that the whole team does well, that really pushes me.”

“Sometimes, you fall into the right idea just by giving it a go.”

Karun describes his working style as intuitive. He talks about daring to explore every idea, no matter how loose or unconventional. It’s especially in these moments that the importance of collaboration shines through. Bouncing ideas off each other is a quintessential part of studio culture; you have to give ideas the space to form before distilling them into concepts you can refine. “Everyone has different ways of seeing, but we have to make something that everyone sees the same vision in, so it’s important to strike that balance.” 

“I ask myself a lot of ‘what if’ questions. What if it could be like this? What if it doesn’t have to be like that? We have to be careful not to fall into familiar tracks.”

Getting to where he is today wasn’t easy, and Karun opens up about managing his dyslexia. “It’s something that I always used to think of as a hindrance. But through practice, I’m learning to work around and with it.” In fact, it’s become another motivator. Karun wants to prove to himself and to those with similar experiences that, with the right tool, you can flex your working style to suit your needs and strengths.

“I’m a Design Director now, but I’m still figuring things out, still learning how to put my identity into my work.” With each step in his career came a shift in mindset and approach, but his curiosity and zest for improvement never changed. “I always want to push my work to the furthest it can go. I want to be proud of my work.”  For aspiring creatives, he gives this advice: “Find what you want to do, even if it takes you five years, or ten. Just stick to it. This goes out beyond design. And no matter what goal you’re working towards, don’t forget to enjoy the ride.”