We’re looking for new members. We’re not recruiting for a post, but inviting self–employed creatives to join an organisation which is completely different to the agencies you might be used to working for or with.
As you may know, Grow Collective is a co–op in Bristol, UK. We are a group of creative and technical people who love what we do and specialise in various areas of Web tech and creativity. To talk legalese for a second, that means we are a co–operative consortium of separate legal entities who come together under the Grow Collective brand to market, deliver and support Web services in a cohesive way. Think about it like a taxi firm where all the drivers are self–employed but come together to run the base. We have no directors, just members who share a common set of values around the work we do, how we do it and who we work for. They revolve around the principle that by being able to specialise, loving what we do and evangelising that passion in our work, we produce something excellent and everyone benefits; client, audience and ourselves.
For a while we’ve been generating more inquiries for work than we can handle. Much of this is design for the Web. Unfortunately, we’re having to turn most of it down. A great problem to have but also a great opportunity for someone to work on some interesting projects. A mixed bag of goodness to get stuck into for someone who can play well with others, and has a talent for user centred, attractive design.
Grow was formed around the idea that experienced professionals could co–operate and collaborate under a strong brand but still remain independent. It came from a realisation that the traditional creative agency model wasn’t the only way of working. In fact, in some cases the agency model seemed broken and harmful: Freelancers are doing great work but are often white–labeled by agencies. In extreme cases designers lose the right to use their work in their portfolio even though the project won awards, thereby having the credit stolen from them under the pretext of protecting an agency brand. Tosh. That’s not ethically acceptable to us. In fact we’ve proven that by owning our own work under our own names, the brand also benefits, and clients have a more personal relationship with us. The proof is in the pudding: We’ve won awards voted for by our peers, had some great endorsements, get more inquiries than we can cope with and yet we didn’t have to white–label anyone to do so.
Every member of Grow is an equal participant and we are run on democratic lines. Projects are managed by us without sales people, project managers or any other filters. We are all customer facing, using our experience to give immediate expert input which lets our creative juices flow in valuable ways for our clients. In a keynote speech, Molly Holzschlag once described professionals in our business as having specialised, ‘silos of knowledge’ — we celebrate that, aggregating our areas of expertise to deliver complete projects with lovingly crafted components.
When it comes to money, project fees are split between the participants on the basis of actual work done. There are no shareholders or directors to pay, or unequal divisions of fees. That means we are competitive but get paid well, allowing us to spend more time on the projects and deliver better quality work.
You probably have a good idea of who we are by what we do and how we write, but if I had to sum up our culture, I’d say we’re relaxed and professional; colleagues and clients have grown into friends and we share our knowledge, passion and humour freely with both.
Hopefully, you’re a freelance graphic or Web designer who has a passion for Web standards, accessibility and user centred design. You work for yourself (or are starting to) either as a sole trader or limited company and can build great relationships with clients. You work hard, invest time and energy into your profession and perhaps share your knowledge or publish about what you know. Your strongest skill might be graphic design or interface design and you might have some formal training in either, or be passionately self–taught. You’ll probably know your way around (x)HTML, CSS, accessibility and Web standards generally and want to develop your career with a bunch of like–minded people. You’ll probably know from experience that working with great people is worth its weight in gold. Last of all you might live in Bristol or at least near enough to travel here easily.
We’re hoping to discover other friends and colleagues. In return we have well–paying work for you to do, great clients and a popular website for you to publisize your professional profile and work. We also have our own standards–driven, accessible applications that are modified as each project needs; you can directly influence the output of these applications thus removing any constraints on your creativity and quality of output. We also have lots of help for you if you’re just starting out on your own from people who’ve made the mistakes and got the experience.
Most importantly we need you to have empathy with the design ethics we aspire to and our co–operative principles. If, after seeing who you could be working with and reading our case studies, those ethics resonate with you and you think you’d like to become a member, get in touch; we’d love to talk to you! Use the contact form to introduce yourself to me (Jon Tan); send me your URL, or CV with example URLs of your work, and let’s have a chat.
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