Panama Design - Celebrating Ten Years

Well, who would have thought it? Not me, that's for sure! 2022 marks ten years since I took the decision to flip my life upside down and start my own design studio. Thinking back, 2012 was a year of bold decisions and major turning points. I quit my job, I became a full-time student at 28, and I decided that I would start getting paid for the design work I'd been doing on the side for years, whilst also trying to get some letters after my name.

Turns out the degree was the easy part. The decade-long fight to keep Panama Design Co. going through house moves, a cancer diagnosis, businesses falling apart around me, various teaching jobs and even a global pandemic has been no mean feat. I have always strived to keep Panama small enough to cope with sudden changes and it turns out that agility may have been the secret to its survival. I've never seen Panama Design Co. as a way to get rich - I wouldn't have chosen to be a graphic designer if money was all that I was after - but rather, it acts as a guarantee of being able to choose the kind of work that I want to do. And a lot of that revolves around the clients I've had the opportunity to work with. In that sense I've been very lucky to have worked with a number of great organisations throughout the decade. To each of you reading this - thank you. It couldn't have happended without you.

Now, I don't plan on spending paragraphs here signalling how amazing Panama Design Co. is, give myself a big pat on the back for a job well done, or subject you to the hard sell. Let's save that for your campaigns. I'll use the remaining space as a statement of intent instead... Ten years has flown by. In the most part, it's been enjoyable and I'm extremely proud of the body of work the company has amassed to date. But it's been hard. Really hard. On my sanity, my psyche, my physical health at times. My intention is to use the lessons learned during the last decade to lighten the load and ultimately, work smarter. There is now the option to grow and increase capacity at Panama, to improve collaborative options and take on projects of greater complexity and scope that involve more people. The next ten years will be less about me and more about the Panama approach to design. I've spent a number of years teaching degree students all about design without ever really taking my own advice. Hopefully, if all goes well, in another ten years I'll be able to post another blog about how I made my millions and built my dream studio in the Canadian Rockies!

Wish me luck!

About the Author

Aaron is a graphic designer based in the UK. He works out of a small self-built studio in the Worcestershire countryside and specialises in brand, print, and digital design.

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