Christopher Caldwell

Brand designer and avid collaborator Christopher Caldwell (whose current personal projects range from type to film to animation and industrial design) talks us through how his first jobs as a graduate, combined with working on passion projects, support his career. He also chatted to us about the benefits of working in a small studio, how to seek out a fresh perspective on your work, and his plans to stay creative in the future.

Where did you study and what were some of your first jobs?

I studied graphic design at The Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston, Ma. After graduating in 2015, I worked for a small marketing firm designing niche brands for clients around Boston before transitioning to a much larger innovation firm. While I didn’t fall in love with the corporate environment, this second job introduced me to human-centered design, and ultimately taught me the importance of strategy in the design world. Outside of work, I spent most of my free time working on passion projects with the goal of beefing up my portfolio and moving to NYC. Fortunately, the hard work eventually paid off. Last year I was offered a position at Mucca Design, a small branding studio in Brooklyn, NY that focuses on high-profile strategy and branding projects. Check us out!

Talk us through a typical working day include for you right now.

A typical workday for me usually starts with getting hyped on other peoples’ work or what my coworkers are jamming on and often ends with a few laughs. The meat of my day requires a lot of juggling between projects, whether it be building out design concepts for a big pitch or working with clients to figure out how to bring their vision to life. There are a lot of moving parts and different stages to all the projects we work on at Mucca, but that’s what keeps the day interesting. I love being part of a small studio because you’re often thrown into the driver’s seat and given the opportunity to build out a project from start to finish. With this kind of work dynamic, my typical day often extends beyond just design to client relations, implementation, and strategy. While the days can get stressful, I couldn’t see it any other way. Especially when you have a team that supports you each step of the way and reminds you to “Trust your gut.”

Design work by Christopher Caldwell The Design Kids interviews Christopher Caldwell work-2

What's the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Stay humble. Stay hungry.

Any passion projects/collabs you'd like to share?

There are always too many passion projects going on to list them all, but I’ll share the few I’m most excited about. For the past couple months, I’ve started experimenting with lettering and type design thanks to my coworker @seanoconnor and boss Matteo Bologna who both inspired me through their work. It’s become my recent addiction and the perfect side hustle – I have two fonts I’m currently perfecting and hoping to have available to purchase through the Type Everything site. While trying to ride the typography learning curve as best I can, I’ve also had the opportunity to brand my friend's production company @crashlandpictures, and work with developer @thirdeyeofebud on the website (feel free to check it out at crashlandpictures.com). One of Crashland Pictures’ award-winning short films, “Uncanny Harbor”, recently received funding to make a full feature film, so be on the lookout for it! To name a few more, I’ve been working with industrial designer Mike Rito on the branding and construction of a desktop fan (simply for fun, not for sale), the print company Mama’s Sauce on matchbook designs, and animator @gifseveryday on some VJ stuff.

Design work by Christopher Caldwell The Design Kids interviews Christopher Caldwell work-4
Design work by Christopher Caldwell The Design Kids interviews Christopher Caldwell work-4

Push yourself beyond your comfort zone and never settle for what you think is good enough.

What advice would you give students graduating in 2019?

I have three major pieces of advice:

1. Interact with passionate designers that bring fresh perspectives and skills to the table, especially those who study a different discipline. I find it’s important to welcome other peoples’ thoughts and skill sets into your own creative process and never be afraid to ask for feedback. It will make you a better designer in the end.

2. Take the time to document your work. We’re in a digital time where most of our work is being shown on the web and, if not photographed properly, can devalue the amount of time and effort you put in. Surprisingly enough, this doesn’t require a fancy photography studio. Most of the work you see on my personal website was photographed in my kitchen or bedroom. Shh!

3. Contrary to popular opinion, school shouldn’t end once you graduate. Continue to evaluate your work, develop new skills, and learn from your mistakes. Push yourself beyond your comfort zone and never settle for what you think is good enough.

What's on the cards professionally and personally in the next 12 months?

Professionally, I’d like to continue building upon my craft and taking the time to reevaluate my work. I look forward to seeing some of the projects I’m working on at Mucca come to fruition and perfecting my type design game. Personally, I’d like to continue exploring other countries to see how art differs beyond borders and gain inspiration for new future projects. Enrolling in a ceramics class is also on my checklist come fall.

Design work by Christopher Caldwell The Design Kids interviews Christopher Caldwell work-6
Design work by Christopher Caldwell The Design Kids interviews Christopher Caldwell work-6

Where to find Christopher Caldwell online.

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