At Very Good Creative Co they use mix of art and science when taking on a creative brief. Nick Adams talks with us about his about desire, frustration, and some top lessons he’s learnt along the way with the “Very Good” title on his door!
Tell us a bit about yourself and the studio that you work for.
My name is Nick Adams and I’m the Managing Director for Very Good Creative Co. We started Very Good with the desire to bring big-budget capabilities to small-budget business and brands. We really focus our efforts on creating cohesive brand experiences and working WITH our clients to develop an identity that their customers will love and easily recognize. When we work with a new client on brand identity it’s really a mix of art and science: we do market research, gather statistics on competitors, position the brand in an open space, and then develop the aesthetic qualities, architectural rules, and brand guidelines that will allow the business owner, or Marketing Manager, or whoever to focus their time and effort on their product or service rather than worrying if each social post or advertising banner is on message. It’s about creating a real value for the client and giving them the tools then need for success.
When did you fall in love with design and how did you get started? I started out as a writer. Publishing is one hell of a way to get your start. It pushes you to hit deadlines like no other industry. You’re forced to develop more efficient ways of working because if final artwork isn’t off to press by 3am, you’re fucked (can I say that? Haha sorry if I can’t). Anyways, time and time again I would pour my heart and soul into a piece, only to have its visual representation end up bland and unexciting. It wasn’t just my work either; I could see my colleagues toil away on investigatory pieces for months only to publish and have readership flop due to a lack of aesthetic appeal. There just wasn’t anything there to draw the reader in, and it pissed me off! So I guess you could say my love for design came from a place of anger and frustration (that’s a half-joke haha); necessity is the mother of invention, right?
What does a typical working day include for you right now?
Our studio is still very small and new, so our days are filled to the brim with business development strategy, new client projects, asset creation… a bunch of stuff really. I mean, to give you a better idea… yesterday we finished up a brand identity proposal for a new client, then had a meeting with our accountant to go over the books, then did some work on a summer campaign for a Vancouver retailer working with Vans, Adidas, Spy, Billabong, and a few other brands, then outlined a motion design project, then some final tweaks on a new client website, and then finally a few beers at the end of the day.
Who would be the “dream client” that you would do anything to work for?
Ahhhh it’s cliche AF but we’d really love to work with a local brewery or winery. We are actually in the process of pitching to a couple of new companies so hopefully that dream will pan out in the next few months. Fingers crossed.
What qualities and skills do you look for in a graduate?
There’s a beautiful line off the title track of the new Kings of Leon album, “A man ain’t a man unless he has desire.” (Sidenote: stoked that the Kings have gone back to their roots with this latest album). Anyways, to me that line means talent, skill, and ability alone are useless, often detrimental even, if they’re not paired with tenacity, drive, and desire. Your work life and projects can become very meaningless very fast if you’re not doing them for the right reasons.
If you’re applying for a job somewhere you really want to work (I mean, why would you ever apply to a place you didn’t want to work?) the biggest pro-tip I can give is to be genuine. If you truly want to work there, straight-up tell the interviewer! I hired a videographer one time based almost solely off of one sentence he said to me: “I love the work this company does, I want to work here, and I can guarantee you will not find another person who is going to work as hard as me.”
What has been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learnt along the way?
1. We have two rules for the studio: pay bills, and have fun. There’s a delicate balance between doing work you love and doing work for money; both are necessary and we wanted that to always be front-of-mind.
2. Develop a pitch strategy. Honestly, this was one of the most time-consuming aspects of starting out. Be clear with what you are selling, how much it will cost, and how long it will take. If you’re starting a new studio and struggling with this, please hit us up. We’d love to pass on the small bit of wisdom we’ve acquired to help our fellow designers.
3. Don’t count your eggs before they’ve hatched. Pitching $30,000 worth of proposal to potential new clients is not the same thing as depositing $30,000 into the company bank account.
4. Don’t name your design studio “Very Good” if you’re willing to settle. Haha, only half-joking on that one but there have definitely been some projects that might have gone out the door as “good enough” if the door didn’t say “Very Good” on it.
5. Don’t pretend like you don’t get stressed. It’s chill. Everyone gets stressed. There’s this culture in design of this laid-back lifestyle that makes people feel like they can’t create if they’re not inspired. Sometimes you just need to embrace stress when it comes, you’ll be surprised what you might be able to pull out of it.