Formula 1 is world famous for science, numbers and data, but that doesn’t mean there’s no place for creativity. There are plenty of creative roles in F1 and to find out more about them we spoke to Ryan Long – Creative Services Manager at Haas F1 Team – to find out what a creative role in a Formula 1 team looks like, what skills you need to become one, and how you can get the experience needed to get your foot in the door.
What is your role?
I’m essentially a one-man creative team, responsible for all things visual for Haas F1 Team.
What are your responsibilities and main jobs?
My responsibilities include leading the creative process for car livery, driver suits, mechanics suits, team kit, the garage, transporters, social media graphics, infographics, video editing, print and promotional materials, PR and communication materials, sponsorship proposal, sales decks, special events, marketing initiatives, and whatever else comes up!
How do you become a Creative Services Manager?
You can start as an entry-level graphic designer anywhere – could be at an agency, or as part of an in-house design team. From there it’s all about learning the job, building your portfolio, and looking for opportunities to advance or transition to a role in motorsports.
What qualifications do you need?
Experience and a strong portfolio are crucial. Unlike some jobs, there’s no “certificate” that says you are a good designer, so you need to let your work speak for itself.
What should you study in school?
Typically, one would have a degree in graphic design or visual communications design, but I’m not a great example for that – my degree is in architecture. Some sort of design education would be expected, but again a strong portfolio proving your skills is more important than where you went to school. While in school, it would be a great idea to get involved as a creative intern with the school’s sports teams (especially in the US, where college sports are huge) or Formula SAE or Formula Student.
What other skills are useful?
It helps to have some knowledge of the field you are looking to work in, but in my experience, huge motorsports fans don’t always make great motorsports workers. You don’t want someone more interested in the driver walking by than doing their job. I could teach pretty much any good designer about the specifics of motorsports, so I’d pick design chops over F1 knowledge if I was hiring a designer.
How can I get work experience?
The good thing about being a graphic designer looking at motorsport is that you can always freelance! Start at the lowest levels: try to get jobs at your local short track, kart track, or in a development series designing driver cards, helmets, liveries, or whatever else you can. You’ll make some money and if you do good work, you’ll start to develop a name for yourself and you can move up into bigger series just like the drivers do.
Do you get to go to races?
I usually travel a few times a year tops. I always go to pre-season testing where we do a lot of video and photo content capture, and that’s also a good time to check on everything and make final tweaks before for the start of the season. Beyond that, I may go to a couple of races a year depending on what’s happening there. If there’s a big sponsor video project or a big branding change taking place around a certain race weekend, I’ll try to be there to make sure it all goes smoothly.
What does a day at work look like for a Creative Services Manager?
Typically, I’m in the office from at least 08:30 – 17:30 and in front of my computer all day, aside from any meetings. During the race season I have a checklist of things I need to do for each race weekend, like PR email graphics and a full set of social media graphics for each grand prix. Beyond that, I’m largely just reacting to the needs of the team, which keeps me pretty busy.
Like all race teams, we do a lot of sponsorship proposals, so there’s plenty of time spent doing mock-ups of what a company’s logo would look like on the car or race suits or team kit.
In the off-season it’s a little more hectic as we’re redesigning everything at once, and the requirements for that can be constantly changing based on sponsor changes. Hours can be a lot longer in the off-season, as the deadlines are pretty firm to have everything ready for the new season.
Find the latest jobs with the Haas F1 Team, on the Motorsport Jobs website.