Ian Caulkett one half of Two of us, tells us all about how he started out—re-creating book covers and album covers at a young age to how himself and Ash started up Two of us even though they’re nowhere near each other! There’s some awesome tips on what to read/watch to get those creative juices flowing.
Tell us a bit about yourself and the studio that you work for. I’m a Brighton-based graphic designer and partner of Two of Us. Two of Us is an independent design practice formed with my good friend Ash O’Brien. We work in separate cities (Ash is based in Birmingham). Our work is predominantly branding, identity and graphic design, and our clients cover a diverse range of sectors; from tech start-ups to a 100-year-old charity. www.twoofus.co
My design background is varied in terms of discipline, working environment and output, but looking back through old work I can certainly see a thread of values that I have always applied to my work, if not necessarily a fixed ‘style’.
What are some of your earliest creative memories and what led you into design? I don’t remember the exact moment I thought about pursuing a creative education or career, I feel perhaps it has always been my only option. I was obsessed with my parents’ record collection (before I could make my own music choices), and I would attempt to recreate the covers with whatever was around the house. I think a lot of my books also had alternative covers that I had drawn or painted myself. That early interest coupled with encouragement from early art teachers set me on a path. I wasn’t academic in the slightest, but once I had found something I loved (and that I was good at) I immersed myself in it.
‘Experiment, explore, make mistakes, be curious and always try to challenge yourself.’
Tell us about any collaborations you have been working on. Two of Us is in essence a collaboration between Ash and myself. The studio was born out of a couple of early projects we worked on together, which laid the foundations of an ongoing working relationship that has grown ever since. We set out to keep Two of Us small and versatile, so we rely on fruitful collaborations with others in specialist disciplines that can benefit certain projects.
We recently collaborated with our friends Multiple States on a self-initiated microsite project that merges each of our studio’s visual identity rules; the flexible polygon used by Multiple States and the complimentary two-colour combination characteristic of Two of Us. The result is a literal collaboration between the studios that invites others to become part of that collaboration by creating new shapes and colour combinations.
Any passion projects you would like to share? I view personal projects as a way to unwind from client work, but also to develop in areas I don’t necessarily deal with day-to-day. I have produced some self-published photography journals born from recent trips. Self employment (or any employment) can be full on, so it’s nice to switch off emails and create something for yourself without pressure, constraints or deadlines. ‘PLY BCN’ is a collection of empty inner city sports pitches in Barcelona, and ’NICE, NICE’ juxtaposes a range of shots from Nice, France, focussing on the bold summer colours, shadows and patterns. There are a couple more personal projects in the pipeline which I hope to bring to fruition when I get the opportunity.
What career advice would you give your 16yr old self? Make your own path in your own time. I think it’s really important to find out who you are and the work you want to make. Experiment, explore, make mistakes, be curious and always try to challenge yourself.
What are your three must-read design books/blogs/podcasts and why? BP&O – Carefully curated brand identity and graphic design blog. Rich Baird offers a unique review/opinion on the work featured, focussing on quality over quantity.
OFFEST Vimeo – Take your pick from a range of talks from some of the best creatives out there.
Abstract: The Art of Design (Netflix) – A fascinating series delving into the practice of creatives in a range of disciplines. In any context I’m always interested in the creative process.
If I can break the rules and add a fourth, I’d suggest Two of Us monthly(ish) newsletter. Ash and myself share our thoughts, inspirations and influences on a thematic basis.