Founder / Creative Director of Moniker, Brent Couchman, got pushed into graphic design by his mum (well done mum!) Now, after a fun few years in Dallas working at Range and Fossil, he channels all his awesomeness into visual identities and his Japanese design collection.
When did you fall in love with design and how did you get started? My uncle was a graphic designer in the 70’s so when my parents recognized I had some art ability my mother kinda nudged me in that direction. Mostly because she knew you could make a career out of art if you went the graphic design route, as opposed to the starving artist route. So from a fairly early age I was aware, to some extent, of what design was and enjoyed creating artwork for mine and my friends bands and anyone else I could get a project from. In highschool I got a job at a local print shop in my hometown and started to learn the client and operations side of a design related business.
Where did you study and what were some of your first jobs? I studied at a private school in west Texas. My first job out of school was at a small studio in Dallas, called Range. We did a lot of logos and a wide variety of projects with regional and national brands. It was a small team but we got to work on fairly large projects which I enjoyed and informed what I wanted to do on my own, eventually. After a couple years at Range I took a position at Fossil, also based in Dallas. The team I was on created most of the graphics and illustration for the Fossil brand and this is where I really learned the graphic side of graphic design. Our creative director would lead short internal courses teaching us different techniques such as watercolor and gouache, so I learned a lot about how to use those techniques within the context of design.
Give us the elevator pitch on what you do. I run a design studio in San Francisco called Moniker. Nate and I handle the creative direction and design for the studio and Lindsey handles business and operations. We work for a wide range of clients from small startups and mom and pops to global corporations. Our focus is on visual identity systems but we like to work on any project that sounds interesting and allows us to do something new.
Any passion projects you would like to share? I’ve been collecting graphic design related posters, books and ephemera for a while and have been focusing more on Japanese design pieces over the last few years. We’ve been working on putting together an archive and shop to share the collection and hope to launch sometime in 2017.
What advice would you give students starting out? Everything is a learning experience, take from these experiences what you can, both the good and the bad. When I look back over my short career, and to some extent my time in school, some of the big takeaways were more about what NOT to do in certain situations. Now that I’m my own boss a lot of those experiences have shaped how we work, how not to talk to clients, how not to present work, etc. etc. So if you’re in a job you don’t like or working with a client you can’t stand, learn what you can and move on, and let that help you down the road.
Whats the big goal in the next five years? We don’t have plans that far out, but we’d like to continue expanding our client base outside of tech, work with more international brands and companies, and figure out how to scale the company in a way that allows us to continue executing at a high level and having fun.