What images are conjured up when you think of ‘the North’? Not in the sense of the opposite of south on a compass but as the symbolic top half of England? Whoever said ‘flat caps’ or ‘whippets’ please leave now.
Football? Yep, plenty of that. Music? Absolutely. Iconic food such as Lancashire Hotpot and Yorkshire Pudding? Goes without saying. Look North for creativity? Hmm…
For those raising an eyebrow at such a suggestion, cast your mind back to August 2012. Who masterminded one of the most memorable and artistic opening ceremonies to the Olympic Games ever? Yep, Bury’s-own Danny Boyle (small-ish town just north of Manchester).
Who is the brain behind iconic sculptures such as The Angel of the North, Another Place and Event Horizon? Dewsbury’s favourite son Antony Gormley (in between Leeds and Huddersfield). I could go on, highlighting the work of LS Lowry, Ted Hughes, Vivienne Westwood et al., but you get the point.
Yes, this all suggests that the North isn’t a depressing, bleak landscape populated by manual labourers and pie shops. It harbours some of the most creative minds in the UK, a fact supported in a recent study by online freelance marketplace PeoplePerHour.com. The report suggests that the North is a hotbed of freelance talent: “Interestingly, when you look at the skills and services being offered by location, freelancers based in the north are generally offering more creative services, such as writing, design and illustration. While in the south, the most common services include legal support, accounts and book-keeping and general administration.”
These days, physical borders count for nothing as a company in Newcastle can quite successfully provide a service to a customer in Plymouth and never the twain shall meet. They may never even talk to each other, just exchanging information over email. One of the main reasons for companies (virtually at least) travelling such distances to pay for a service, be it design or copywriting, is quite simply cost.
In the main, most things in the north are cheaper. Houses, bread, a pint of beer, and the same can be said of freelancers who tend to charge a lower rate than their southern counterparts. But lower price certainly doesn’t mean a poorer service, anything but, as our enviable client and product portfolios will testify.
And you’ll be spoilt for choice too. According to the same study, Yorkshire is a hive of freelancer activity, with Bradford, Sheffield, Halifax and Huddersfield, appearing in the list of top UK freelancer hotspots. The North West also features highly with Liverpool and Manchester seeing a 135% and 130% increase in freelancers over the past 12 months, respectively.
So long as there’s no snobbery about using a designer north of the Watford Gap, then it all makes perfect sense. Perhaps the only barrier to an effective working relationship based on excellent customer service and product delivery is the accent…