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Mark Dawson

Sunderland, UK

MA Journalism (was MA Magazine Journalism)

When Mark Dawson was offered a promotion in the high street fashion retail industry he was working in, it made him reassess what he actually wanted to do with his life. A passion for writing made him decide to return home to Sunderland to study MA Magazine Journalism (now MA Journalism). After graduating he took on a events and marketing role, while planning the launch of design agency Everything, of which he is co-founder and Manager Director.

Before my Masters I was plodding along climbing the ladder in the high street fashion retail industry, alongside writing fiction and doing commercial copywriting freelance. The offer of a substantial promotion in retail led me to reassess what I wanted to do with my life, which was to combine a passion for writing with the people skills I’d learned in retail, so I took the plunge and decided to apply for an MA.

At the point of choosing to study an MA I was living in Manchester and I was torn between doing a Creative Writing MA at Manchester or Journalism at Sunderland. I decided in the end to return to my hometown of Sunderland.

I found the small class sizes a big help in regards to being able to collaborate with my course mates pretty intensively. I also found the level of support and teaching from the lecturers to be very high. The pace of learning was quite intensive too which I really enjoyed as I liked the discipline it required and it made for a really engaging course.

After I graduated, I took on an events and marketing role. While working in this role I began planning the launch of the design agency Everything, where I’m currently Managing Director and co-founder. Everything was originally formed around myself doing the new business and copywriting side of things with my co-founder Mickey Devine (also a Sunderland graduate) taking on the design and creative direction. Little did we know how many other skill sets are involved in running a business and we’ve very much had to adapt to learning new skills and undertaking many roles.

Since its inception the agency has grown to work with a range of really diverse range of clients in the arts, education and social change sectors including Tyneside Cinema, Rape Crisis TN, Life Science Centre - and the University of Sunderland.

Through working in the creative industries I’ve been able to really shape the professional and personal life that works for me, one that’s surrounded by interesting, creative people who are full of passion and ideas. I spend a lot of time meeting people from all different backgrounds, roles and sectors, and to help understand their needs and help them achieve their goals feels great.

From a personal point of view it’s given me the opportunity to cultivate a lifestyle that’s rooted in creativity and it’s given me the confidence to see merit in my own output and in the value of creativity itself as a bit of a life force. It’s probably also worth bearing in mind that mine is more of a business role than a creative one, there are a whole host of opportunities available to graduates at creative businesses which may not tick the traditional ‘creative’ job roles such as sales and marketing roles.

If I was going to give students looking to study or work in the creative industries any advice, I would preach patience, self-belief (as cheesy as it sounds, you really can do anything you put your mind to!) and practice – creativity takes a great deal of honing and revision to get the results you want.

I wasn’t expecting a life changing experience at university, but I did get one. Studying an MA taught me a lot about drive and discipline and gave me the confidence to take my future into my own hands and create a career that I’m directly in control of.”

Published 3 November 2020

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