Women In Design feat. Ruth Fogden

Introducing Ruth Fogden, Senior Graphic Designer at ilk Agency in Leeds. Ruth has built a successful career, starting at a small infographic agency in Manchester before moving to Leeds. Now, as a senior at ilk, she thrives in a collaborative, majority-female team.

Here, Ruth shares her insights on the unique perspectives women bring to the design industry, the importance of celebrating strengths, and the evolving role of mentors throughout her career. Discover how Ruth’s experiences and wisdom can inspire and guide the next generation of design talent.

Could you please introduce yourself as well as your background?

I’m Ruth, a Senior Graphic Designer at ilk, in Leeds. My first step towards my career today was actually studying illustration at the University of Cumbria, but I soon realised my real passion lay with graphic design. I switched my specialism in my second year, and the rest is history.

After graduating in 2014, I found my first role in Manchester with a small infographic agency. Next came a move to Leeds, to a new agency with the chance to broaden my skill set. Ten years later and I’m a senior at ilk, working with a talented, collaborative (and majority female!) team.

In your opinion, what unique perspectives or contributions do you think women bring to the design industry?

I’ve always found that every individual offers a unique perspective, with their own skills and talents. That’s what makes our industry so exciting! I’ve been lucky enough to work with a whole host of female designers and creative directors who all supported me, and helped me grow. One thing I learnt along the way was that collaboration creates better outcomes. Your ideas are better, your work is better and your sense of satisfaction is too.

In an attempt to capture some of the Wisdom you’ve gained as a woman in the design sector so far, what is the 1 thing that you’d like to pass on to your peers as well as future generation of talent within your sector?

Something else I really believe in is celebrating strengths! It’s so easy to focus on the things you’re yet to learn, the pitches you missed or the ideas someone else got to before you. So recognising what you’re great at can be ten times harder.

Early in my career, I was too busy focussing on addressing my weaknesses. I should have been celebrating my strengths with just as much energy! Whether that’s giving yourself a mental pat on the back after a hard day’s work, or remembering to take the praise colleagues offer you to heart.

Comparing yourself to other designers is a road to ruin. We all have different strengths, and no studio would work if we were all fantastic at the same one thing.

What is your take on the importance of role models?

I’ve always been someone who benefited from role models, especially early in my career. I learnt so much more in my day-to-day work than I did at University, and learning from a strong role model in the workplace really helped me grow.

But I don’t think it’s necessarily for everyone, or at least not for every stage of your career. These days, I think I get more from working collaboratively and supporting other designers, and receiving their support right back. Maybe we’re all role models to each other?

If you’re inspired by the stories and wisdom shared in our ‘Women In Design’ series and would like to contribute your own experiences, we’d love to hear from you. Creatives at all levels, please email us and your story could be the next we feature.

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Head of Design Recruitment

User Experience & Design Recruitment

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Sam Firth