Welcome to Pixel Clouds, Rich. Could you start by introducing yourself and telling us how and when you got into design?
I’m a British freelance brand and packaging designer, blogger and contributing editor to The Dieline.
I was initially drawn to the world of design after watching the 90’s TV series ‘Designs on Your…’ and went on to study Furniture and Product Design at Nottingham Trent University. Following a year freelancing as a 3D designer I managed to secure a couple of branding and packaging jobs for the same client, built a 2D portfolio and went looking for new clients.
If you hadn’t become a designer, what job do you think you would be doing now? What others interests do you have outside of design?
Ideally (and perhaps rather optimistically) a DJ and producer, I’ve had a couple of gigs and made few tunes but never really had the necessary time to give it a solid shot, design is a pretty much a 24/7 commitment. I do however get out of the office on the weekends and enjoy a bit of hiking in the Czech countryside.
Many people now question the benefits of formal education in the design industry. What route did you take and what would your advice be to aspiring young designers?
A degree in furniture and product has helped me with my packaging work but hasn’t contributed to my career as a identity designer. So, from that perspective, I think a solid academic foundation is always worth considering but not essential.
I can honestly say I look up to you as an inspiration. Which figures in the design industry do you look up to?
David Airey is someone I look-up to, I really like his mix of design and blogging. His approach helped me to establish my own personal maxim ‘design, comment and contribution’ a resolution of my practical work and two blogs BP&O (comment) and Design Survival (contribution).
What does your typical process consist of when creating a new brand for a client?
Briefing and client conversation (usually via Skype) – I think having a relaxed informal chat helps to draw out unexpected detail and establish a good client designer relationship.
Research – I try to isolate general industry trends and look to other sectors to cross pollinate ideas. Communication is paramount but if you can do it in a new and unusual way that’s still clear it’s a bonus.
Design Strategy – This is aimed at finding methods and mediums to communicate values, whether that be through language, photography, a logo, logo-type, typography, material choices, print treatments, structural design, touch or smell. I find it’s essential to get a client involved in this process, it can be a workshop, a two and fro over e-mail, a collaborative pintrest board or a conventional mood-board. I tend to plot these ideas across a matrix to make sure they’re given different weights across multiple touch-points to create a richer brand experience. This process also helps to manage client expectations and keep the results relevant and communicative.
Conceptualisation – I aim for a lateral rather than incremental approach, that is to say I generally aim to design everything together and avoid isolated assets. I rarely begin with a logo, sometimes I might choose a material or print treatment and let that lead the graphic design process.
Review – I write a detailed review of every design decision I’ve made and its communicative value. If it’s superficial or a simple aesthetic choice I drop it. I like to call this ‘super-reductionism’.
Feedback – By getting a client involved in design strategy early on they’ll generally know what to expect or at least understand the decisions I’ve made. Again this will be an informal discussion with new ideas and amendments made following this.
Execution – Finalising colours, materials, print choices, liaising with printers and drawing up the final artwork.
What is a typical working day like for you?
I don’t have a typical day but they do always start and end with writing and researching articles for my blog BP&O. I tend to reserve Mondays for my Dieline reviews.
You might already have noticed my obsession with workplaces. What does your workplace look like?
I have a Mac and iPad, two large speakers, an external sound card, a Novation SL MkII, design books and a stack of print and paper samples.
I’m also quite proud of my original 1980 Czech Temple of Doom poster hanging above the desk.
Where do you see yourself in say 10-15 years time? Do you have any specific plans or aspirations?
I hope to grow my blog BP&O a bit more, perhaps add a second opinion as well as landing a couple of architectural clients. I wouldn’t mind doing a bit of work for a couple of agencies but don’t really have any plans long term.
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