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Artlist is a Norwich success story.

Beginning life in the city as FXHome over 20 years ago, their journey began (in their own words) as “passionate, indie-filmmakers who wanted to help the creative community with easy-to-use tools to make Star Wars lightsaber visual effects”. Since 2001, this creative software company has grown to help over 6 million people worldwide tell their story.

The business’ next chapter began in 2021, when FXHome joined forces with the team at Artlist. Now, Norwich sits alongside offices in New York and Tel-Aviv, to bring an unmatched library of resources to creative practitioners: from software, to music and footage, and powerful editing tools. Currently, Artlist is used by over 13 million people across the globe.

We speak to Frontend Developer at Artlist Dan Jackson, about living and working in Norwich. Dan’s a UEA graduate, and has worked in the city since getting his first job here 5 years ago. He shares his thoughts on the local tech scene, the Artlist office, and the best lunch going.

Dan Jackson, Artlist

I couldn’t see myself living anywhere else right now.

I moved to Norwich from Cambridgeshire for my degree at UEA where I studied Computer Science. I fell in love with the place, and have stayed here in Norwich ever since.

Being a relatively small and very affordable city, it’s a great place to explore. My job allows for a great work/life balance. And the weather is generally nicer than the rest of the UK so there is plenty of opportunity to get out to the coast, or go for a walk in the city. There’s plenty of pubs to go to, and things going on to do.

There’s a vibrant local music scene. Places like Last Pub Standing put on free music events all the time, and you can go to gigs most nights at venues like Voodoo Daddy’s & The Arts Centre.

There’s so many independent shops in Norwich too. And also loads of options for independent food places, especially on the Market which is right by the Artlist office. Special mention to Bodega (& The Garnet where you can grab a pint and eat any food bought from the market).

It’s got all the good bits that other, larger cities have. But it’s much more affordable; pretty much everything you’d need is walking/ cycling distance; and we’re only a 30 minute drive from the coast.

The Bodega, Norwich Market

The tech sector in Norwich feels really exciting at the minute.

You’ve got a real mix from huge companies like Aviva, to startups in places like Fuel Studios & St George’s Works. I’m really happy to be working at Artlist on a creative product, which is really exciting to be a part of. And generally it feels like there’s a good amount of tech job opportunities locally.

There’s loads of tech interest groups to be part of and get involved with too. There’s always something going on which is great. There’s also loads of local talent, not necessarily shouting about how good it is. We’ve got an amazing team at Artlist, with a lot of them based in Norwich and Norfolk.

What opportunities are there for anyone working in the tech or creative sectors, in Norwich?

There are loads – from digital marketing agencies, to creative tech companies, Norwich has a (perhaps surprising to some) really broad tech scene. There’s loads of really cool companies doing amazing things. Creative companies, a few that spring to mind are Meantime Media & Trendy Grandad, there’s a really good number of digital marketing agencies in the city too.

On the tech side, you’ve got loads of companies of a whole range of sizes. It’s not all legacy work either. At Artlist, we’re using the latest tech to build responsive products, and I get to work with music & video assets which is really cool. Web/ Software Development is a really in-demand skill at the moment and although there’s a bit of an assumption that Norfolk salaries are going to be lower than the national average, I haven’t found that to be true and I definitely see it’s getting better too. Combine that with a relatively affordable city to live in, Norwich is a great place to work in tech.

Tell us about your favourite Norwich Networks. Are there any that you – or your team – would recommend to anyone working in your industry?

A favourite event of mine is Codebar; a monthly workshop that enables minority group members to learn programming in a safe and collaborative environment. I’m usually attending as a Coach; helping students to build their confidence and understanding of code.

As a hobbyist game developer, I also enjoy the Norfolk Game Developers meetup – seeing what the local indie game scene is working on, and meeting the people behind the games.

We regularly host and organise meetups in the Artlist office, like HotSource and The Norfolk Network, so it’s good to come along and check new things out too. It’s a cool space and it’s great to see it being used for things that are beyond our “bread and butter”.

I’ve also done things like SyncTheCity, where you form a startup in 54 hours. Challenging but fun.

Dan’s Norwich picks:

To eat…

To shop…

The best coffee: It’s got to be Bread Source. They have great coffee, great pastries, and great vibes. The Artlist office is just down the road from St Giles’ BreadSource so it’s a regular stop for a lot of us. Kofra coffee comes in at a close second place.

Where you’d take visiting friends and family: I’ll usually take people for a walk around the city, go and grab a coffee from BreadSource, Kofra or Strangers and then get some food from the market if it’s a nice day.

There’s so many restaurants to choose from in the city so if the weather isn’t great we’ll go to Cafe 33 or somewhere around there to grab lunch.

And of course, getting out for a walk on the coast or the Broads is a must. Or if we don’t fancy walking, go and hire a boat from Wroxham for the day, take a picnic and see where we end up.