From intern to senior brand designer: Aydin Mustafa.

A great designer knows how to make any work interesting for them, and understands the value of diversifying their portfolio. Aydin talks to us about the importance of falling in love with your process, not just your end result.

Aydin has always loved films and shows, even making cutouts of his favourite characters to invent his own stories when he was little. He discovered branding when he went to the London College of Communication to study Graphic and Media Design. “I realised I could put designs to use in the real world. I’ve always wanted to put a personal touch into art, and make it meaningful, but now I can flex that challenge into spaces that impact people’s daily lives.”

He landed a spot in the DixonBaxi Intern Academy during his placement year, and got to work on live projects right away. “I was given the same opportunities as a senior to showcase my work. The playing field was completely levelled.” Aydin recalls pitching for ESPN during his internship, and how he put his own spin on the brief to stand out. Rather than doubting himself, he was motivated by the work around him. “It was intimidating, but my teammates understood that I was only just beginning in this career, and that they were once also in my position.”

“No matter what level I was at, I never got complacent. I always wanted to push myself more. I was inspired by my mentors and how they were curating their work to tell stories for the brands they were building.”

In four years, Aydin was promoted four times, a testament to his drive. He remembers going around people’s desks and sitting down with them to see what they were working on. It was the fastest way for him to see what really goes into a brand. And it gave him a good gauge of the responsibilities he would take on as he progressed.

As a junior and midweight, he looked up to the seniors. Now, he’s taken up that role as a point of inspiration. In a managerial role, you need to be two steps ahead of the project, so you can help the team do their best work. It’s a humbling experience to have people look to you for answers; you learn to not only collaborate with your team, but you also have to push them to succeed. “When you’re in the leading chair, you need to have the confidence to say this is how it is, and this is what we’re gonna run with.”

“It's not about getting ‘your idea’ into what you’re working on. It's about working together to build the best outcome.”

We believe the best ideas are the ones that people genuinely have fun coming up with. That’s why we developed the Futures Week, a typically week-long exploration phase where our creatives have the freedom to experiment without limit. It’s a one-of-a-kind process that yields phenomenal work unbound by rules or specifications and inspires every step of the process after. It also results in a surplus of ideas. It’s the job of seniors like Aydin to work with design directors and creative directors to pick the ones we take forward. Curating is just as vital as creating, because trimming down your work is how you reveal the best ideas.

“We create our most refined work when we’re critiquing and questioning each other. That’s how we move forward.”

Samsung Gaming was especially memorable for him; as both a designer and a gamer, it was a unique opportunity to make a mark on a field he’s personally invested in. The result was a brand born of the product itself, with a system derived from real gameplay actions like turbo jumps and level-ups. “When you use the brand, it feels totally gamified.”

Aydin’s excited to venture into more projects that overlap with his interests, especially fashion and music. “But I wanna step into new territories as well. I’m excited about the unknown. When something completely unexpected comes into the studio, that’s when I’m most excited.”

“Make the work interesting to you, and then you’ll fall in love with the making of it.”

It’s important to learn what you don’t want to do, as much as what you do want to. “It’s all part of the journey of finding your position in this industry.” And it’s okay not to get things right at first, because in the process you’ll discover what you enjoy. Every wrong idea is a stepping stone towards the winning design.