So Daljit, tell us about your life before N2O.
I studied Graphic Design and Illustration at the University of Hertfordshire and fell in love with design all over again. I had a real passion for photography and loved experimenting with typography, so a design-based degree would always be my path. From a young age, I knew I wanted to explore working in publishing with a focus on the magazine sector. I’d flick through the pages of Vogue and ELLE and think, “Yes, this is me”, – so that became my career goal.
Where did that take you for your first job?
Knowing that I’d end up in publishing, I wanted to try my hand at web design first to tick that box. So I started my career at QVC The Shopping Channel, working across the website and all interactive platforms. It was such a fun place to work, and I owe all my Photoshop skills to them.
Was there anything you didn’t like about the role or found challenging?
Oh gosh! I can’t believe I’m going to tell you this, but you’ve brought it out of the woodwork now. I’d often get roped into being the ‘stand-in’ when the hired talent was a no-show. So I’d have to grace live TV with zero experience, but luckily in most cases, it was just a smile and nod (with the crew hysterically laughing in the background!).
Where did you go after QVC?
I loved QVC and wasn’t looking to move at that time, but I was head-hunted for my next role, which later developed into my dream job. I moved to Hearst Magazines as a Designer, working on Prima and Prima Baby Magazines. Although these magazines were not of personal interest, I just loved designing for print. Throughout my time at Hearst, I continued developing and progressing within the company. I moved across various titles and worked my way up to an Art Director. When I left Hearst, I had worked across all the Hearst UK titles and international campaigns and brands.
So what did your role involve?
I was a part of the creative vision for the brands—the eye for attention to detail and the ideas behind the pages.
There were two parts to the role essentially. One, the design element – which was the key aesthetic of the brand; designing the pages, laying out typography, and two, conceptualising and art directing, so initiating ideas, then executing them through video and photography which I directed and led creatively. It was great to dip in and out of the two elements of the role. I loved both of them equally, and they went hand in hand. It allowed you to own the project from beginning to end, which was fulfilling.
That sounds like a lot of fun! What was your favourite shoot?
Wow, it’s hard to whittle it down to just one. Back in my Prima Baby days, I used to love the ‘baby shoots’. I’d often shoot newborns, which was such a dream. I wasn’t complaining about the hands-on ‘mum training’.
I accidentally featured on a cover shoot with Ellie Goulding that we shot for Cosmopolitan once! I was talking to her on set, unaware that the photographer was still snapping away, and one of those shots ended up on the inside cover. I usually like to stay behind the scenes, but he caught me (the photographer) on this occasion – much to his humour.
What a claim to fame! What did you find challenging about your job there?
Working on shoots during the pandemic was interesting. The concept of shooting, and even art directing, completely changed. I had to learn to adapt to online art direction, which isn’t something we had done as a company before and for myself as an individual. We swayed our content to more influencer-led pieces where the content creators could get more involved. So for the interim, my role steered to briefing and directing their self-shooting into relatable content for our titles. The process was similar but with a reduced team. My focus was guiding the aesthetic, ensuring the influencers captured the brand's look and feel.
So what brought you to N2O?
When I came across this role, my initial reaction was wow! The brands, the concepts, the executions - everything was just so out of the box. It wasn’t like anything I had done previously, but I wanted to be a part of it and was ready for the challenge. And here I am - two months in and loving it.
What have you been up to since you arrived?
I’m already working on some amazing briefs. My extensive fashion and beauty experience has led me to focus on N2O’s fashion and beauty brands. I am confident I can elevate these campaigns and ideate some fantastic concepts. I’m currently working on a Barbie-inspired concept because why not? There’s no such idea as a bad idea! If you believe in it, then own it.
What inspires you?
For me, inspiration is everywhere. It’s about putting down your phone and simply looking up. A simple word, object or act can inspire an idea - looking between the lines and seeing what’s already there. Take graffiti, for example, those artists are telling a story through their work. But what I see will be different to what you see. That’s one of the things I love most about art; it’s subjective; there’s no wrong or right.
And finally, what do you like doing outside of work?
I’ve got two young kids, a little boy and a little girl. My husband and I love taking them to Central London and visiting museums and art galleries. They love it – probably more the open space to run around and go wild in than the actual artwork, but start them young, right?
I love travelling and spending quality time with my family. However, I believe life’s too short to visit the same place twice, so we try to see as many different places as possible. (It helps when your husband has his own travel company – our personal travel expert).
I love music! If I’m not doing something practical, I sing and dance – anywhere and everywhere. We have music on in the house 24/7. The kids love it too. You only have to say Beyoncé to get me on the dance floor - then there’s no taking me off!