Interview by Izzie Holman
Jake Paul didn’t know anything about Formula 1 when he landed a graphic design job working for a sports marketing agency that works alongside the industry. Since then he hasn’t looked back, and his latest achievement has been developing the ‘End Racism’ logo as seen on the drivers’ t-shirts, the side of the pit wall in Austria and on the McLaren livery.
Jake didn’t know graphic design was a job you could do until he was at university, already signed on to do a law degree with his parents telling everyone he was going to be a barrister.
He completed his law degree and got a job as a paralegal but knew immediately that it was not the right thing for him and then fell into banking which also wasn’t the right fit. In 2016, he decided to take the leap of faith and pursue his passion. With no formal training he quit his job to become a graphic designer.
After two months applying for jobs with a portfolio that was only one side of A4 with tiny images on, he got a break with an independent shoe company and grew from there, eventually ending up as part of the sponsorship team for Formula 1.
Jake’s advice for those like him who want to teach themselves the skills they’ll need for their dream job is to find well known people who do that job currently and take apart everything they do to figure out their methods, “you educate yourself because you’ve put yourself in their position and you can understand their rationale or you make your own rationale up”. There are lots of forums like Reddit that have information and discussions of all different topics. This advice applies not just for people wanting to go into graphic design, but for anyone with a dream job in mind.
Jake cites his ‘End Racism’ logo as the work that he is proudest of. “It was a moment of pride for me, and not just ‘oh that’s my thing on TV’, it was so much bigger than me or Formula 1 or the sport”.
Jake is on the Diversity and Inclusion Panel at Formula 1 and believes that ‘a page has been turned’ and that there are now conversations happening for the first time. “People are starting to realise that not everyone’s experience is the same experience”.
This is really encouraging for those students from under-represented backgrounds that don’t feel there is a way into the sport for them. ‘If you don’t see it you can’t be it’ is a saying that has come up recently in conversations about lack of diversity in the paddock and hopefully because of these conversations that will one day be a thing of the past.
The logo also shows how important design can be, as Jake says, “design is communication”, and he hopes that the power of seeing all of the drivers wear the t-shirt with his logo on will stick with people and help to change attitudes.
Jake has spent the last year or so growing his LinkedIn network, and recommends building your presence and reaching out to people on the app to everyone, “you’ve got to go out there and start having those conversations because you don’t know where they will lead to”. He recommends being active and creating your own identity, just as you would create an identity for a brand as a graphic designer, you have to do it for yourself.
Jake’s advice during the current climate is to “dig deep and self-motivate…it’s up to you – you can sit there and be like ‘I’ll do that one day’, or you can actually take active steps to do it”. When he started his first graphic design job with no formal training, his bosses knew they could take a chance on him because, in his words “if I spent nine hours of my day at work doing graphic design, I was going to go home and spend another six trying to get better”. That is the kind of self-motivation that he is talking about and is an attitude that we can all aspire to have.
“Being able to mentally re-adjust every time you get a knockback” is something that Jake believes is important, but with enough motivation you can ignore any naysayers. His boss in the banking world told him that he expected to see him back in a banking job within six months on his last day, but he proved him wrong and is now working in a job that doesn’t feel like work, “you just have to take that first step”.
My conversation with Jake was interesting and inspiring, even though I don’t want to be a graphic designer and I think anyone that want’s to work in Formula 1 can learn a lot from the advice that he gives, as well as take heart that with the help of him and others like him the industry is now on its way to becoming a more inclusive and diverse place.
Thank you Jake for sharing your journey with us!