Do you have a favorite letter? Or perhaps one you might be obsessed with perfecting? Hamish Makgill, creative director of Studio Makgill was on the path to design at a young age, when he was obsessed with drawing the perfect letter A ✅ Hamish is intrigued by the work behind the pretty image—keen on seeing the experimentation rather than just the polished bits! Read on for some other awesome tips 😀
What are some of your earliest creative memories and what lead you into design? I grew up in an artist’s home. My mother is a wonderfully talented painter and so I was surrounded by whilst growing up. She was also a very skilled typographer and I really connected with that. I remember getting lost in drawing giant italic initials on all of my school books. I was obsessed with making the perfect letter A.
“I want to see mistakes and failures. Design should
be exciting and challenging when you don’t have
real world clients to worry about.”
When did you fall in love with design and how did you get started?
Like most designers, music plays a very important part in my life and has done since an early age. Growing up, I would save all of my pocket money and spend it on records. When I had just enough beans in the jar, I would wait until the following Monday morning, head down to Our Price (a long forgotten record shop that was in all major cities in the UK) and buy whatever latest release I had my heart set on. I’d then go home, lie on my bed, put the record on and pour over the sleeve looking at every tiny detail. It became every bit as important as the music to me.
However, I didn’t realise that this was the job of a graphic designer. I followed my mother’s path and studied fine art. It was when I was at college that I realised I was a designer rather than a painter.
Give us the elevator pitch on what you do. Our manifesto says it best: we make beautifully simple design.
What do you look for in a great portfolio?
It’s very easy to make a design look and feel finished and polished. I see a lot of graduate projects that are presented to look as if they are out in the real world when it’s clear that they are not. I get that designers want to demonstrate that their idea ‘could’ look this finished and ‘could’ work across all of these items, but for me it’s boring. I want to see experimentation. I want to see mistakes and failures. Design should be exciting and challenging when you don’t have real world clients to worry about. I don’t want to see logos on pencils.
“Good design is not a luxury. It’s an integral part
of our society and culture.”
Tell us about any collaborations you have been working on.
Last year we collaborated with one of our clients, H Furniture. They asked us to create a limited edition of their WW Chair for London Design Week. As a huge lover and fan of furniture design, this was a dream project for me.
Like normal, our approach was simple. Rather than play with the form, we explored colour and came up with six new versions of the chair. The process was hugely collaborative – we met and shared our thoughts with H regularly. Their knowledge in manufacturing was absolutely key to the success of the finished piece. However, ultimately they trusted us to take the reins.
What career advice would you give your 16yr old self?
I was asked this same question recently. My answer… Good design is not a luxury. It’s an integral part of our society and culture.
I’d also like to remind myself that… It’s important to keep things in perspective and whilst it’s important to bring huge amounts of energy and passion to what we do, it is not the be all and end all. I see too much misplaced stress in young designers – it’s not like we are out there saving lives.