Starting our company magazine, the Clayhill Quarterly

Katherine O’Shea

A personal project

A lot of organisations tell you they allow their staff time to be creative. But how do you know they really believe what they say?

Anyone who has worked for an employer before will be familiar with the ‘induction day’ where someone from HR attempts to explain the vision of the company. It generally goes something like this; their achievements are proudly listed, ambitions for progress are outlined, and your new manager explains the important part you are about to play in living out this dream. However, once the initial buzz wears off, it’s easy to forget all those admirable ideas in the ritual of daily tasks and actually make the time to be innovative or creative.

What has never happened to me before is for management to turn to us and say,

How would you like to run a personal project of your own, entirely for yourself, and it can be whatever you fancy?

During such a time as an international pandemic, many employers would be understandably focused on only those things that get cash in through the door. After all, who really has the inclination to invest in their staff’s personal goals at such a trying time? Well, the answer is a business who genuinely believes in the value of creative learning, and that’s Clayhill Arts, my new place of work.

The planning process

I felt lucky to be given such a terrific opportunity, so I had a long think about what my project could be. I wanted to work on something that would make the most of my creative skills, but would still be useful for the business too. Suddenly the idea to make our own company magazine came to me out of the blue.

I am very fond of magazines. I think the surge in independent titles is clear evidence that people still enjoy the tactile experience of a slow read, despite the avalanche of online articles, blogs and Instagram feeds. Like most of our audience, I am a visual person, so the option to flick through a promotional magazine appeals to me. It’s a way of inviting people to learn about us through a more tangible medium and I thought this could be a great addition to what Clayhill has on offer.

Deborah and Michael knew all about my background in illustration and were willing let me go to town on the visuals. I was keen to get to know InDesign, brush up on my dormant graphic design skills, and have a go at some writing too. I found myself thinking back to the days of my degree in ‘Visual Communication’ where I wanted to have a go at everything all at once. This was my idea of fun!

My aim was to keep the spirit of our current branding, while giving the Clayhill Quarterly its own look and feel. That cut-and-paste art school style but with a serious professional message is what I wanted to put across, as I think this represents us best. I presented my ideas in our next team meeting and they were all on board and enthusiastic about it.

In fact, not only was it a motivating project for me, but it also seemed to give everyone else a much-needed injection of energy, so I endeavored to get the wider team involved too.

Each issue will have regular contributions from our Clayhill staff members, covering everything from recipes in the kitchen to news from the gardens. The first issue even has a piece from our digital marketing intern, Jayde. Being able to give other people a chance to try something new has been a really rewarding aspect of the project for me.

  planning out the layouts and gathering inspiration

sketching ideas for the cover of the spring issue

getting everything together in InDesign

How it’s developed

We were all hoping for better news this year. But with 2021 coming into view and bringing more restrictions with it, we found ourselves in the unfortunate position of postponing courses once again and waiting on a brighter tomorrow. After working so hard to build those connections, it broke my heart to have to tell our wonderful group of tutors we weren’t going to work together this year after all. Giving talented people a chance to share their skills is the most rewarding part of my job, so I was gutted. I really wanted to find a way to turn things around, so we decided to make this year all about our tutors and put the focus on their news and their work. And as it happens, the magazine project I’d been working away on ended up being an ideal platform to do this.

Not only have I been able to involve the whole Clayhill team in the project, but our tutors have been able to give us some fantastic content as well, including business advice, interviews and showcasing their own wonderful artwork. Going forward, the magazine will act as a platform to share their stories with a new audience, one that is as interested and engaged in what they have to offer as we are. We’ve even got some great content from our course alumni too.

It’s funny what can happen in the midst of challenging times. What I’ve taken away from this is that when the world around you is undergoing a massive upheaval, taking the time to have a play can be a great idea – at the very least you’ll have a learning experience, and it may turn into something surprisingly positive too.  

Now, on top of putting together our new programme, I can add receiving that brand new shiny copy of the Clayhill Quarterly through my letterbox as a personal highlight of my first year.

Take a look 

Our magazine will be released seasonally in response to our upcoming programming, and printed copies will be going out to all future course participants. The digital version will live here, where you can browse through all of the issues and hopefully share in our excitement about what’s coming up next here at Clayhill Arts. 


the first ever copy!

Printing Locally

We printed this first issue with Purnells, a independent printers based in our local town of Bridgwater. It’s been great to use a local company and we’re beyond pleased with the end results.

Looking forward already to sending over all of our future issues there too.

First Issue

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