Keith Paterson- Tornado

 In LAB Blog

What On Earth Do You Do All Day?

What on earth do you do all day?

Hello LAB fans! We’ve got an amazing blog this week, on the wonderful Keith from Tornado. He does incredible work, and his story will leave you in a state of shock. He’s a truly inspirational and wildly talented individual and we are so excited to have him on board with us! No spoilers in this introduction- you’ll have to read on!

Name: Keith Paterson

Organisation Name: Tornado

Organisation Age: 5 Years

LAB: Tell me a little about you, and about Tornado:

Keith: Hang on, I’ve got props for this. Right, this is my card [see below]. Can you read it?

Keith’s Business Card

LAB: Um, yes.

Keith: So, if you can read that card, you aren’t colourblind. I can’t actually read this card- I’m colourblind. I’m going to boast a bit now, I am Liverpool’s best colourblind graphic designer. There’s basically two types of colourblindness, and I inherited both, so I’m totally colourblind. As a child I was always into computers, and I started to play on this really basic computer, learned to code and program. As computers evolved and as I grew up, I started to get into graphics and drawing. I went to school in Kirkdale, in the kind of school where nobody really went to lessons, but there was a computer so I could just go and play on the computer on my own. By 12 I had a GCSE in computers, but then at 13, I moved to a school in Southport, where they did some tests like the one on my card and realized I was colourblind. When they told me I was colourblind, I was given a list of jobs I couldn’t do. Pretty much everything to do with graphic design and computers was on there- everything I wanted to do- it was a full two pages of things they said would be impossible. I remember I went home in tears, and after that, the school pretty much abandoned me. I wasn’t very good at things like maths, and art was out of the question, so they stopped caring. I was doing media studies, and was told to think about applying to study it in uni, but not to tell anyone I was colourblind, and I got in. I did my degree not telling anyone, and then when I did tell people and I was starting to apply for jobs in graphic design I was told not to admit to them that I was colourblind, and it just carried on. I was always told not to admit that I was colourblind.

LAB: That’s a really amazing story! So, tell me a little about your work, and how you manage to design whilst not being able to see colour at all?

Keith:  I started doing graphics and packaging, like the bottles and adverts- except the film ones- for Vimto, I launched Tetley tea in Russia, all while not being able to tell colours. I managed to develop computer systems to get around it, so in branding consultations I’d use colour charts with humorous names so that people wouldn’t question what they were doing or why it was them that’s picking the colours. Then something clicked that my disability was why I was good at doing what I did program wise- I was designing these systems to get around being colourblind, and that’s what made me good at programming. I won packaging awards, had branding sold for over a billion dollars, and I’d go into the supermarket and see products we’d packaged- like Maltesers hot chocolate and Vimto, at one point I could go into a supermarket and see 50 things I’d worked on, which was really cool. I also won an award for branding a boutique hotel, which was great.

LAB: What about the things you’re doing now?

Keith: I started to think more about programming and branching out on my own, and realized that most small businesses had no systems in place, so I’m helping companies develop computer systems that will help them grow. That’s the thing for me at the minute- helping people maximize potential. I heard this phrase, I can’t remember it exactly, but it’s something like “you don’t rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems.”

LAB: To do all the things you have, you must have something in you that drives you- can you tell me a bit about that?

Keith: As much as anything, I think I was very determined to succeed in this. I thought I’m good at this, I don’t want to go off and become a plumber. So I didn’t.

LAB: So what does a day in the life of Keith look like:

Keith: Today I’m coding updates for a system that I built that runs a call center, and I’ll also be designing some menu brochures for a catering company. Sometimes I speak with clients about updates, but most of the time I’m coding or designing.

LAB: How did you end up working in LAB?

Keith: I found out about it from someone that knew Chris in a previous role. The cost was a major factor, but also I sat down for a two hour chat with Chris about what my business, and LAB, was all about. I  liked what Chris said about the place being friendly and everyone talking- because I just came from an office where that just didn’t happen.

LAB: How’s it all been, so far so good? Have you accessed any of the support from LAB?

Keith: It’s great, everyone makes an effort to say hello, it’s nice. When I spoke to Chris in that meeting before I started, he mentioned that he could help by organizing HR support, and when I started, Chris remembered and sorted it out. They look after handbooks, contracts, disciplinary issues, and I think they can help with appraisals. It’s really useful as I grow.

LAB: It’s great that you’ve got plans- what exactly are your goals?

Keith: I started with the plan in January, with the plan to get here. I’m looking at 2 more people joining the team in the next 90 days to help with graphics as well as development. Eventually I’d like to be huge. I’ve got software developing that I’m hoping to launch soon, and project management systems. Ideally, I’d like a 16 man team.

That, Ladies and Gentlemen, is the lovely Keith, the most talented colourblind graphic designer in Liverpool, and we reckon you’d be hard pushed to find anyone to beat that claim in the UK! From a heartbroken child who was told he couldn’t do what he wanted to do, to a successful small business owner with big plans to expand his team, we know that Keith is certainly one to watch and we cannot wait to see how he grows! You can follow him on social media at @wearetornado

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