A FORMER Morton player who suffered a breakdown after quitting the game is now one of the most in-demand graphic designers in the world.

Craig Black, of Gourock, has gone on a remarkable journey from the football pitch to the art studio.

He hopes his success story will inspire others to never give up on achieving their goals.

The 30-year-old, who specialises in graphic design, lettering and typography, said: "I have this determination that I'll be one of the best at what I do in the world.

"It's not egotistical, I just want to go 30-40 years doing this so I need to believe that I can make it work.

"It's an excellent and fulfilling career."

Craig, a former pupil at Wellington Academy who is originally from Greenock, was a youth and then first-team fringe player at Cappielow before he tapped into his creative side.

He said: "I played for Morton for about five/six years then I decided that I didn't want to play football.

"I felt like I wasn't really getting an opportunity, no matter how well I played I wasn't getting picked and it was soul destroying."

After leaving Ton, Craig was at a loss what to do until a chance meeting with an old school teacher.

He said: "I met Paul Murray, an old art teacher, and he told me that I should definitely do something creative.

"He was a major influence."

Craig signed up for a graphic design course at Cardonald College and has never looked back.

He said: "I remember going in to college on the first day and falling in love with it.

"During the course, Allan Moore, the Morton manager at the time, invited me back for a trial.

"I remember going for the trial and I instantly didn't want to be there.

"I spoke to my lecturer and told her that I had an opportunity to play professional football again.

"She said I had to explore that but told me that I was 'seriously talented'.

"So I decided that football wasn't for me anymore and my focus shifted to graphic design."

After graduating, Craig moved to London and walked straight into jobs with top firms Red Bee Media and Gregory Bonner Hale.

While working full time, he worked on his own projects.

He said: "I made a promise to myself to dedicate one or two hours a night and weekends and it grew."

Craig then decided to branch out himself in London.

He said: "I wanted to set up my own business.

"But when I was out working on my own I had a breakdown - I was working so hard and getting let down by clients and creative directors.

"I'd taken a massive risk and had bills to pay so I decided to come home and spoke to my family and friends.

"Their support was fantastic."

As he bounced back, Craig went back to work and built up his own client base.

He is now an advocate for mental health in the creative sector, raising awareness of it at any opportunity he can.

Craig said: "Creatives are vulnerable people, we wear our hearts on our sleeves.

"If you're told your work is rubbish then it can have a massive dent.

"It is business but you do take it a bit personally as you put your heart and soul into it.

"I try to tell people to turn that into a positive and use it as a knock to bring you back up."

Three months after striking out on his own, Craig's career is taking off.

His work is in demand across the globe, with major global brands such as Nike knocking on his door.

He said: "I have an ongoing project with Nike, an installation at a Nike store in Istanbul.

"It all came from a personal project I'd created and I've also been in talks with Google."

Craig has also made a name for himself as an motivational speaker in the design industry.

He said: "I spoke at one of the biggest design conferences in the world recently.

"It was in Brisbane and an amazing experience.

"During my talk I spoke about all these amazing places I'd been to throughout the world but for the last slide I used an image of Gourock.

"I told the conference it's a hidden gem and that you don't have to be in New York or London to work with these major clients, you can do it from Inverclyde."

Craig has also joined 'Creative Inverclyde' - a partnership with Riverside Inverclyde to encourage creative people to share ideas and collaborate.

The first event at the Custom House last week was a big success, with another lined up for September 12.

He added: "There is amazing talent here and this is an opportunity to come together.

"I'm really keen for everyone to get involved in this, especially the schools and college."

Craig is now looking forward to an exciting future with his supportive fiancee Alison Glass.

He added: "My ultimate dream is to have a family but to have the work flexibility to be there for them."