Birmingham has a number of design agencies situated in-and-around the city. They range from so-called 'full service agencies' through to high focused niche agencies that provide a very specialised service. Traditionally, design agencies are known for producing graphic design material and are often concerned with printed products. Birmingham’s design agencies are often a direct reflection of the market they serve, and can range from very creative and innovative design through to the so-called “bread and butter work”. This range of demands are generally catered for through staff capabilities which the individual agencies retain internally.
Fragmentation of Birmingham design
Like many industries, the Birmingham design industry has not been immune to the volatility of the UK recession, with a number of well-known companies cutting back or even closing down. Many design agencies in Birmingham have chosen to outsource design capabilities either through “white labelling” or by using “freelance” providers.
Birmingham design as a cottage industry
The need to cut costs and outsource creative capability has made the Birmingham design industry a cottage industry, with a high number of creatives working from home, in isolation. Although the ever-increasing capability of technology enables the process of home working, the fragmentation and isolation of the creative can have longer-term implications.
Creativity in isolation
The creative process is very much a social interactive process. Individuals need to “bounce ideas” around with other creatives, whilst testing theories, developing options, asking for advice and sharing capabilities. The creative process is difficult to sustain in isolation, and requires frequent rejuvenation for other social contact.
Longer-term implications for Birmingham’s design agencies
If Birmingham’s design agencies continue to outsource talent and only retain the critical account functionality, it may well find it continues to lose out to London and Manchester. If Birmingham’s creative industry does not support and invest in it's creatives, it may well find that it begins to lose those individuals with real talent.