James is one of those rare creative directors who remains heavily involved with clients on a day-to-day basis. He brings a freshness and clarity of vision to everything Clearleft designs.
James Bates

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James has been designing digital experiences since the early days of the web. He has helped to lead projects for many of our clients. Including Channel 4, Penguin, Nordea, Virgin Holidays & Dennis Publishing to name a few. 

At Clearleft, James heads up the creative team and guides the vision for all our design work, not from a distance, but by getting stuck in. On any given day, James could be helping a client to figure out the strategy for their new product, facilitating a workshop, sketching with a client, or sweating over UI details in Sketch.

As a traditionally-trained creative, James brings years of experience of idea-generation, sketching, typography, grids, branding and art direction. The real magic James provides is quickly getting to the heart of what our clients require from their design, and using his skills to craft comprehensive and responsive design systems required for today’s platforms.

Away from the office

Away from the office, James is a self-confessed petrolhead and whenever possible can be found hurtling around a circuit on four wheels. When he’s not making tyre smoke, he can be found in his workshop making sawdust whilst honing his woodworking skills. He dreams about living in the mountains, but until that happens, he has to satisfy his need for the outdoors by mountain biking, climbing or snowboarding. He’s also known to bake a mean loaf of bread.

Recent articles by James

The challenges of scaling innovation


In the drive to scale design, organisations often focus on their capability to execute, but forget about their ability to innovate too. In fast-paced markets, your ability to identify and exploit opportunities quickly is crucial to maintaining competitive advantage.

Updating our identity: Part 1 - Why change?


We've been around for over 12 years and have a strong reputation built on our work and our contribution to the industry. Our logo is recognised by both our peers and clients alike, so why would we decide to mess with it?