Today we get to chat with the talented young gun Daniel McQueen the owner and founder of Christchurch based & internationally renowned studio Ten Dollar Fonts. Daniel who studied CPIT, gives us a little insight into the TDF rebrand he has been working on with the talented NYC based Aussie designer, Wade Jeffree! Daniel also informs us he is keen to hire some fresh talent this year, so watch this space.
Whats the big goal in the next five years?
To be growing Ten Dollar Fonts (TDF) at an even more rapid pace, multiple employees and an impressive library of fonts that includes some of my own typefaces! Looking back at TDF when I started the site in 2012 to now, the growth is huge. Today TDF has fonts that are winning international awards or are designed by designers who are working at some of the worlds most renowned studios, so I believe at this rate in 5 years TDF will be in a pretty good place for all involved.
What advice would you give students starting out?
Something I told my brother who’s in his final year of his Visual Communication degree the other day is something like this; Hate it or love it, the people who will be hiring you when you graduate do not give a shit what mark your tutors gave you, do what’s right by you and develop work that you’re genuinely proud of. You need to build a portfolio that you’ll be confident to show off when seeking employment, not some mutated version of your work that you hesitantly created in an effort to please your tutor and get a top mark. I think too many students can become reliant on their tutors and don’t make moves or take risks without them holding their hand. You’re a student, you’re paying good money to study, this is most likely one of the only times in your career where you can truly express yourself, have fun, make mistakes and remember it’s your work, do whatever the fuck YOU want with it. You’re there to learn, grow and make awesome stuff. Please don’t water yourself down by trying to please someone else. I’m not saying rebel against everything your tutors suggest, but if you’re passionate about your vision, stick with it and stay true, long term it’ll pay off. Also, lock in your name on social media, buy your name as a domain name and most importantly don’t have a stupid email address like email@example.com – be professional and keep it simple.
Where did you study and what were some of your first jobs?
I completed my Bachelors Degree in Visual Communication at CPIT School of Art + Designer in Christchurch, I really enjoyed my time there, it set me up well for my life today. In my final year exhibition project I designed two typefaces which lead to me eventually creating TDF. But straight out of design school I landed a job at Canterbury Museum as their graphic designer! At the time Christchurch was a bit worse for wear post earthquakes and good design jobs weren’t really around and I didn’t like the idea of working in-house at a large company wasting my days away designing newspaper ads or something soulless like that. The Museum was a great alternative that would sound respectable on my CV when I moved on.
What does a typical working day include for you right now?
I’ll wake up at about 7 and take the dog out, by about 8 I’ll be on my phone checking social networks and my emails, I’ll reply to as many as I can from my phone while eating breakfast. Between 8-9ish I’ll be getting ready for the day and arrive at my office in the city between 9-10am. I’ll go back over my emails and social media again quickly. From there the day can go in any number of ways, I don’t really write lists much anymore, I just do stuff that needs doing, so I’m all over the place, things are busy right now, but often involves sushi for lunch. Over the last 7 months I’ve been rebranding TDF, so I’m creating about 1200-1500 images for the fonts on the site, designing a new specimen, managing the development of the new website, creating all new promo material, skyping people etc! Most of these are one offs due to the rebrand, normally I’d spend my day looking for new talent, designing my own type, working with existing designers on their fonts, a little bit of accounting, thinking up marketing ideas and most importantly helping customers and the designers of TDF if they are in need. I keep busy! I stay at the office till about 4:20–30ish, meaning I won’t have any traffic home. Another dog walk followed by a delicious dinner cooked by my lovely girlfriend + general chilling at home and more social media for TDF. You know how it is. For TDF though, I’ll reply to emails right up until I go to bed at about 11pm.
Whats on the cards professionally and personally in the next 12 months?
Launching the rebrand and new website for TDF! Everything is pretty much under wraps for now, all will be revealed in the next 6 weeks if everything goes smoothy from here. Lots of exciting things around to come with that, oooooweee. So exciting! Also If my business model goes to plan, I’m hoping to be able to hire someone to work with me on TDF before the end of the year, watch out TDK Job Board, TDF is coming for you! Ha! Personally, In the next couple weeks I’m off to New York with the fam which will be nice, I’ll be catching up with some designers from TDF too! Other than that I don’t have much planned but I’m sure something will come up.
Tell us about any collaborations you have been doing: past, present or future?
I’ve been working on the new TDF brand with Wade Jeffree over the last 7 months, also my long term web developer Georgy Malanichev and finally Quinn Keaveney on a new type tester for the new site, all together this group of guys are going to pull together a shared vision of the new face of TDF, without them I couldn’t run my business, they listen and interpret my ideas into something that’s beyond my expectations. Collaborating with others is my preferred way of working.