April 2021
, by
Joe Mason

Yes/No Q&A

In our first ever blog post we pretend, in a hopefully not too conceited way, that we're getting interviewed by Rolling Stone Magazine.

What first got you into graphic design?

Matt: If you go far enough back it was Sheffield Wednesday and Sonic the Hedgehog. I used to repeatedly draw the Sheffield Wednesday owl from the 90s (sadly no longer in use) and Sonic on my school books and pencil cases. I suppose that is where my love of simple iconography started.

Joe: Album covers, Tomato, Peter Blake, David Carson.

Who inspired you to be creative?

Matt: Ultimately I think that honour lies with Mike Sheedy who was our course leader at Leeds College of Art and Design and later became my boss in my first industry job. He helped with the transition between messing about at university and making an actual living in Design. He also helped instil high standards when approaching work.

Joe: Matt.

How would you describe your work?

Matt: Simple, effective, fun.

Joe: I agree.

What is your creative process like?

Matt: I’ve learned over the years to spend a lot of time upfront understanding the brief, the customer and the target audience. Ideas then tend to flow and are more authentic if you do that first bit right. I try to look for less mainstream inspiration to inform the work. When an idea is chosen, it's then a pure hard graft to get the work to the right place. I’ve never been one of those super-talented-comes-naturally types. I just start doing stuff and don’t give up until it starts to work.  

Joe: Think, make a bit. Think again, make a bit more. Fail, panic, make it right and get it done.

Who would you most like to collaborate with?

Matt: Someone in comedy. I’d like to do ‘bad’ designs for Stath Let’s Flats.

Joe: James Cameron, A Ceaser (Julius or Augustus) Richard III, Aliens, Fish.

What is one message you would give to aspiring graphic designers?

Matt: Listen. To tutors, clients, users, bosses, anyone! But pay attention and listen. No one wants to have to repeat themselves constantly. Also… don’t just blindly follow instructions. Question everything and use your initiative.

Joe: Just do it.

What is the most useless talent you have?

Matt: Procrastination.

Joe: I can peel a prawn in under 3 seconds.

Do you sing in the shower? What songs?

Matt:  No, showers are my quiet time.

Joe: I hum my own special 'I'm having a shower tune'.

What would you be doing right now, if it wasn’t for your career in graphic design?

Matt: Tree surgeon.

Joe: Peeling prawns.

What's your favourite and least favourite piece of work? What exciting stuff are you working on now / coming up?

Matt: A children's book about a full stop that falls in love and a card game made for fish-loving rappers.

Joe: We're doing work for a local craft brewery which is ace. We're also starting to develop our own products, which has been a real challenge but we're very excited about what's coming.

What is your favourite technique/plug-in/app/process?

Matt: Right now I’m enjoying Procreate on the iPad. I’ve always loved Photoshop though.

Joe: My favourite technique is to turn off my phone and emails to create pockets of time where I can really focus. Either that or getting up early when the world is still asleep.

I love Procreate. We’re also using Webflow a lot which is an absolute game-changer for front end development. As an original advocate of Flash, it’s exciting to see the web come back round to richer user experiences. Calendly has been brilliant, making it super easy to organise meetings, interviews & training.

Which famous creatives do you admire?

Matt: So many but I’ll stick to design based ones… Alan Fletcher, Robert Brownjohn, Paula Scher, Erik Kessels, Eike König, Anthony Burrill, Jessica Walsh, Mr Bingo, David Shrigley and David Hieatt.

Joe: All the ones Matt said but also; Matt Pyke, GMunk, David Hockney.

What is the best advice you’ve been given?

Matt: I don’t think it was a certain piece of advice but when I learned to break a big goal down into small incremental landmarks. That was a pretty good day for the old mental health.

Joe: "There is only one you." It's easy, especially in today's world, where so much is accessible from the palm of our hands, to get carried away with what other people are doing and forget who you are. (In work and in life) It’s good, from time to time, to turn it all off and remember that we are all beautiful and unique. Good work comes from the soul - which must be nurtured.

What’s next for you?

Matt: I'm off to make tea.

Joe: Space, it's the final frontier.