Multimedia designer, photographer and musician, Pete Simcoe from Blacon is a one-man cottage industry.
PUBLISHED: 13:00 11 July 2013
Pete Simcoe has never been keen on the idea of conventional office life.
‘If you do nine to five, you are not making the most of your creativity,’ says Pete, aged 38. ‘If you are inspired, it may not be within those constraints.’
Instead he works when he is inspired, His clients get the best he has to offer, he reckons, but he also ends up working longer hours than he would in an office environment.
At least the commute is a doddle. As a one-man creative business working from home – a bungalow in Blacon, Chester- the tools of his trade are all around him: his computer, cameras, guitars, keyboards and recording equipment.
Through Simcoemedia, Pete has built a portmanteau career which runs the gamut from managing the Twitter profile of a business energy company via designing album artwork to selling the world what he hopes are the most flattering images of his home city of Chester.
Not that he ever rests on his laurels.
‘Working for yourself, there is the problem of looking out for the next job and having to promote yourself,’ he says. ‘If you get lazy, the business will fail.’
Pete was born in Chester in 1974, and the family lived on Sealand Road before moving to Upton. Playing with Airfix models, Meccano and Lego fed his creativity and love of design.
‘I first picked up a camera when I was 13 or 14,’ he says. ‘I had a little instant camera. I had been interested in music, and I was looking at the work of Anton Corbijn. He did work with Simple Minds and U2 and other groups I was interested in. It was looking at the artwork of the album covers that my interest in photography started.’
Pete studied industrial design at Loughborough University, emerging with a first class honours degree. He spent a year teaching design in New Zealand, and in 2002 set up Simcoemedia, which he continued to run remotely when he did another spell teaching in Australia in 2005.
In 2007, Pete returned to Loughborough to help on the Cool Acoustics research project, led by Dr Eddie Norman and Dr Owain Pedgley, which produced acoustic guitars out of polymer rather than wood. Guitarist Gordon Giltrap was also involved in the project, and Pete ended up creating the artwork for Secret Valentine, an album which showcased the polymer guitar.
Back home in Chester, Pete’s business is multimedia – print, design, video, web. One of his web clients is Nottingham-based business energy company Torse, for which Pete creates YouTube content and manages its Twitter presence.
‘My role is ensuring that what they put out there is of a high standard and appropriate,’ he says. ‘I consider Twitter to be 95 per cent useless, but there is five per cent of useful stuff on there, and I would ask companies to think about how they use it, what they are putting out there and who is your audience.’
Pete has been playing guitar for 23 years, has all the technology to produce his own music, and is keen to get more creative work in this field.
And then there is his photography, which he has pursued as he travelled not just Down Under but to Mexico, Chile, Cuba and the USA.
Many of his images were uploaded to iStockphoto, the online photography business. Pete was then pleasantly surprised to discover one of his images – a panorama of a buttercup-filled meadow in Chester – being widely used on posters and on the web by Virgin Trains. The idea occurred to him that he would like to build a portfolio of images of Chester looking its best.
‘If I am going to rave about Chester, I would say it is up there with the most beautiful towns and cities in the UK,’ says Pete.
He is even determined to show his home area of Blacon in the best light.
‘Blacon has got areas of social deprivation through to borderline mansions. It has a bad reputation, but bits of it are very nice,’ he says.
It seems like Pete Simcoe is juggling several different careers at once, but much of what he does can be distilled down to the idea that thoughtful design matters.
‘People see design as the icing on the cake, and think that in a recession, they can withdraw some of it,’ he says. ‘But design and planning can be a key to success in any type of product. Good design can influence your bottom line significantly.’ n