I had always been a maker from a very young age. Drawing, painting and making books was something that I pursued right from the start. Throughout high school I was more interested in drawing in the back of my exercise book than the ‘work’ in the front. I was also fairly handy with hardware. Art and IT were my strongest fields and design became the avenue for both creativity and execution. And really, that’s what I love about what we do now. Creating design and executing it on our antique hardware. I first fell in love with design at my final year of high school when I realised that it could be a viable career. I fell in love with it all over again when we started taking our own design work and producing it ourselves with the letterpress format.
At the moment it’s a real mix, but I’ve definitely started to take on more of a ‘creative director’ role. Other than Jenna and myself, we have two employees now and we're doing our best to work as a team to create our design and letterpress work. So, an average working day begins at around 8:30am, after a 45 minute walk with Olive (the Dog) from home to the studio. The first few hours are spent catching up on emails, and administrative writing tasks: creating production estimates, writing proposals and briefs etc. The afternoons are spent working on creative things. At the moment that is a healthy serving of branding, but we’re trying to put a bit more energy into our studio projects. We’ve got some fun ideas that we can’t wait to execute!
The first mentor in my design career was my second creative director. As a junior art director in an ad agency, working directly with the creative director, Steve Minon, was a huge advantage for me. The atmosphere there was great. Steve imparted on me a focus on creating ideas first, and letting the executions fall from that. When I started, the agency was around 13 people, and we had a distinct challenger attitude. We were a small agency driven to create big work. We loved the work we did and we worked really hard. It’s definitely shaped the way I approach all my work now. Bob Reed and Ken Newlove are two retired printers who taught us everything we know about letterpress printing. Bob is in his eighties and still printing every week. These guys have been printing their entire lives, and have a real dedication to their craft. They taught us what true craftsmanship is.
I think there will be an ongoing shift towards digital. I’m fairly certain there is major virtual reality revolution around the corner and there will be new design patterns that will need to be developed to accommodate for these new platforms. But for us, creating tactile, physical work will become an even stronger counterpoint to digital: when the most common interactions for a brand and their audience is online, the more striking, unique and exciting 'real world' communications become. The barrier for entry to ‘design’ will become even lower, with the rise of online design tools coupled with ‘learn design fast’ accreditations. Though, we’re already seeing clients come to us after being burned by their experiences from using services like crowd sourcing platforms.
We look at a lot of portfolios, so we have to review them fairly efficiently. We’re visual animals, so first and foremost execution and presentation is the most important. Having a cursory glance through the work is the quickest way for us to cull. Ultimately, for your folio to stand out, your work has to be up to industry standard. This means we are looking for work that is designed in line with current standards, work that we think we could use in our studio for our clients. Presenting that work is also important. Mockups that are photographed look infinitely better in a folio than work that is presented flat. Having a good folio will get you an interview, but you’ll then need to back that up with the ideas behind your work, where it’s come from and the reasons behind the design decisions you’ve made. Personality goes a long way, too!