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Alumni Profile

Gareth Davies

BA (Hons) Interactive Media 2002

Gareth (Founder of design and innovation collective is a multi-discipline creative leader with 25 years industry experience. He sits at the intersection of brand, technology and environmental design. A blend that provides crucial insight, clarity and consistency to execute world class, end-to-end, multi-layered brand experiences for the digital and physical world.

He is internationally tested, having lead projects in the US, Canada, UK and across the Middle East. His work for IKEA has been featured at prestigious industry events including ’The Future of Retail Conference’ in New York and the ‘Digital Screen Association’ in Toronto. You can also experience his work every time you use a Smart Gate at any Dubai Airports terminal.  

Since his first work went public in 1999, Gareth, from Sunderland, has run his own agency, taught at the University of Sunderland and been lucky enough to work on fantastic projects around the world. Today, as founder of ACID_WORKS, he has an award-winning track record in leading digital projects from inception, to launch and beyond. 

Back in 2005 Gareth founded his own design agency in Sunderland, Change Design, and quickly established a reputation of excellent design services and a great suite of clients. Such as the National Glass Centre, Sunderland City Council, Gentoo Housing Group, Newcastle Council and Sunderland AFC. 

During that time Gareth was also working as a part-time Academic Tutor at the University of Sunderland, which came about through an idea to help all design students get work experience, something he feels is essential to all students.

He said: “I taught Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign to the students across the various degree modules. I also worked with third year students offering advice and guidance on their final year projects. It was extremely rewarding and I feel very fortunate to have worked at the University where I studied, helping students to produce great designs, then seeing them develop throughout their degrees.” 

In 2010 Gareth moved to Dubai where he has worked as an Art Director and Creative Director for various design, digital and technology companies before setting up his new company.

“I decided to move to Dubai as I’d stopped over there once when travelling to Japan and that raised my interest in working abroad. Dubai was full of opportunity and I needed to start a new stage in my life,” he explained. 

In 2022, Acid Works opened its UK Design Lab at Hope Street Xchange, in Gareth’s home town of Sunderland. Where it would support graduates and young designers gain exposure to clients at a global scale. Hope Street is part of the University of Sunderland business program, further continuing his connection to education. It’s also a stones throw from his mom’s place, who had recently moved into the centre of town.

He has clear advice for graduates who want to work in the creative industries. “Be 110% positive and enthusiastic about yourself, colleagues and clients. You don't have to be the best designer in the world but having energy and passion for what you do will always give you a great chance. Never stop doing things that might open doors even if it’s hard work at times. Be willing to work somewhere for a low rate or even free, once you're in the door it's likely you can prove yourself. And in this day and age, be vocal about your work online, have a blog about what you love doing and be an expert in a field. It's easy to get recognised if you have good things to share and show.”

During his third year at university Gareth took a placement at a magazine in London and left as a confident graphic designer. “That year gave me the focus I needed. The experience of working away from home and being in a big city was probably the most important experience of my life, I’d caught the big city bug!” he said. 

Asked about his time at the University, Gareth commented: “I loved the brand new state of the art campus. We had excellent programme leaders and lecturers and the option of doing work experiences within the course was key for me.” 

Now a passionate advocate of the University, Gareth likes to come back to the Faculty when he's back in Sunderland to deliver talks and to share his experience and projects with current students.

He concluded: “Many students can go onto wonderful things. Alumni can lead with example and be role models for current students. I think giving inspirational talks to them can help students understand what to expect when they finish their course and help give them direction and confidence in what lies ahead.”

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