We chat with Foundry‘s main man Mat Colley, who shares with us his fave books & blogs, including Steal like an artist; his rebellious pre-teen years aka. stealing screen-printing supplies (there’s a theme emerging here haha) which led to side project Multiply, and his plans to expand the team over the next 12 months.
When did you fall in love with design and how did you get started? I loved art and drawing at school but never really thought that there was a career in a creative fields that I could do when I left school. As I was pretty average at almost every subject at school, other than art, I decided school wasn’t for me and I left at 16 to be apprentice mechanic.
After about 5 years in the mechanical game, I decided that some further investigation was required into a possible creative career as I found myself drawing, painting and making things almost every spare moment that I had.
I was always intrigued by logos, brands and fashion, as well as being really into music and all the visual aspects that came along with it –videos, album covers and t-shirt graphics. At that time the internet had started to explode (now I’m sounding old) so I got my head around computers and the whole Google thing and did a little research, and what do you know, it turns out there was a creative career for me.
‘Always be open to meeting new people, building new relationships, you never know where they might lead.’
What are your three must-read design books/blogs/podcasts and why? Steal like an artist – A good quick read that delves into creative careers. It looks into topics like originality, appropriation, imposter syndrome and side projects. An interesting read for creative people.
Micro factories: Move Aside Mr. Ford – Not only is it a beautiful tactile book, but also a great read. This is a book about a new breed of entrepreneur, tangled up with both tradition and technology. It interviews a range of entrepreneurs from around the globe, many of them within creative industries. It delves into their businesses, their unique approach, setbacks and dreams. An inspiring read about creative entrepreneurs who are redefining their industries.
BP&O – A great design blog that shows beautiful work, but also goes into more detail. It outlines project briefs, outcomes and roadblocks. It discusses design influences, application methods and concludes with an overview of design summary. It’s a good read that gives a little more project insight and does more than just show beautiful design pictures.
Any passion projects you would like to share? I always seem to have a side project or idea on the boil in one-way or another. The one that’s been around for the longest now is wewillmultiply.com.
When I was 12 a friend and I stole some screen-printing supplies from the school art department and we started printing our own t-shirts. Back then, our name back then was ‘Mature Audience’ and we printed some very crude graphics on some very cheap T-shirts.
Since then I always loved the screen-printing process, so about 6 or 7 years ago I invested in a bunch of equipment and a 4-colour carousel. I use Multiply as a place where there are no creative restrictions – I design and print things just for the fun of it. The process of designing, creating screens and then printing your own work is really satisfying, and strangely enough, somewhat therapeutic. It’s also nice to get away from the computer screen every once in a while and do something with you hands.
We sell some of our stuff online and now through the Foundry website. We also occasionally do some market stalls.
‘be patient, but not too patient’
What has been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learnt along the way? 1. To trust yourself and your judgment. If you start questioning yourself you’ll very quickly fall into a design rut.
2. Always be open to meeting new people, building new relationships, you never know where they might lead.
3. Take a positive approach. There are lots of design projects that don’t sound that appealing. You need to approach them positively and always aim for a great result. If you start a job thinking it’s going to be shit, then most likely, that will be the result. I guess what I’m trying to say is, try to make something out of nothing.
4. Be confident in yourself and your abilities, if you don’t believe in them, then no one else will.
5. Don’t be afraid to fail, but when you do, make sure you learn from it.
6. If you can afford the time, it’s always good to step away from a project and give it some time to breathe. Come back to it in a day or two, you’ll have a fresh perspective and will help you identify potential issues or ways to make it better.
7. Always start with a concept. It can take a while some times to come up with a solid concept, but stick at it until you do. It will make the implementation of a project that much easier. It will also help clarify your project and guide your design decisions moving forward.
What advice would you give students starting out? Surround yourself with good designers and be a sponge, take in as much as you can.
And, be patient, but not too patient. I think starting out you need to be clear with yourself and about where you want your career to take you. Ensure the path you choose is going to get you where you want to go.
If you decide it’s not going in the right direction, change, there’s no point hanging around somewhere if it’s not taking you where you want to go. Trust your gut instincts when making the call on this one.
Whats the big goal in the next five years? Keep learning and increasing our skills and capabilities. Ultimately I’d like Foundry to grow. Were only just 12 months in, so it’s early days, but I’d love to start building a team over the next 12 months.
In five years, it would be great to expand and set up a second studio in Sydney or Melbourne. A long way to go, but it’s good to have goals.