I had no idea who Steve Edge was before I went to see his NABs talk. Graham and I were still at work, and our Creative Directors mentioned that there was a famous designer speaking in Manchester. Having a rare free evening (and being a bit gutted that we missed the last Tuesday Club talk), there was little reason for us not to join them.
My first encounter with Steve was in the ladies’ toilet. I was quietly washing my hands when a booming, cockney voice jolted me from my reverie.
‘Oh, sorry love, do you know where the mens’ are?’
‘Erm no, I don’t work here’
He grinned, turning an awkward accident into a hilarious one, and left to find a more appropriate lavatory. It wasn’t until much later that I realised that the mix-up was probably due to his severe dyslexia.
He smiled sheepishly at me from the stage and I immediately adored him. I don’t always trust people who dress head to toe in print, but his eccentricity wasn’t calculated or annoying; it felt carefree and as playfully thrown on as his silver brogues.
From growing up with a pet chimp to working on the Star Wars trilogy at an obscenely young age, Steve’s life has been anything but ordinary. And with dyslexia so extreme that he can’t navigate around a train station without relying on the kindness of strangers, he’s had to overcome some pretty extraordinary adversities, too.
He swears. A lot. But it never felt excessive, rather a natural way of conveying the excitement that seems to spill out of him like popping candy. Throughout his talk he spent as much time sipping wine as he did water, and this disregard for convention seems to have permeated through everything he‘s done.
Everyone loves a maverick, and Steve charmed us all with his little examples of rebellion, from telling busybody surveyors to ‘Fuck off’, to saying the unsayable to a difficult client.
His parting words advised us never to save our Sunday best for Sunday. He was referring to his attire, of course, but I couldn’t help but think that he never reserves his best efforts either. Steve didn’t just shine whilst working on Star Wars – he shined as a kid at art school, which is exactly why when those big projects came along, they fell into his lap. I can’t imagine he ever has days where he twiddles his thumbs and waits for 5 o’clock, and I bet he’s not guilty of conserving his energy for his favourite client either.
We could all do with dressing a bit more purposefully in the morning, we could all do with telling unnecessary stressors where to go, and I for one could probably do with dreaming less of future success, and more of today’s endeavour. So thanks Steve, we learnt a lot, and I spent all night on the Edge of my seat.