People: Interview with Graphic Desiger Max Randall
Hi Max, tell us a little bit about yourself and your work
Hi, I’m a freelance graphic designer and illustrator, I live just outside Bristol with my wife, a fellow Falmouth University graduate, who works as a children’s book illustrator.
Previously I worked as a designer for tech company Sparkol, before making the leap to freelance about 18 months ago. I’ve since been fortunate to work on a variety of projects including covering editorial design, branding and some web stuff.
How do you think your university experience has affected your style of graphic design and illustration?
The way we’re taught at Falmouth was amazing at developing our creative process and tackling briefs. In first year we had some pretty interesting projects like designing time capsules and visually representing nursery rhymes, they really focussed on ideas and getting stuck into a challenging brief. Then in second year we worked a lot more on the details, with exercises based on typography, branding and lettering so as to help us in actually executing and delivering those ideas.
At the time I probably got frustrated with some of the projects we did, but working that way was invaluable, as now I’m confident in how to tackle new projects. I’ll happily get stuck into sketching and scribbling down ideas, but am confident I can work them through into something final that I can show the client.
If you could go back to your final year of Uni, what would you tell yourself?
I’d probably tell myself to do more ha! I felt like I worked hard, but I keep wishing now that I had more time to do personal projects and I realise now that I probably had more time than I thought at Uni. It’s a great time to start a side project, put it in your end of year show and perhaps do something with it afterwards. I’d also probably tell myself to do more competition briefs, they’re great to practise working to a deadline and having your work critiqued.
What has been the most challenging thing since entering the professional creative industry?
Again it’s probably creating time to work on all the side projects I have ideas for, I always try to do things in my spare time, but I think when you’re paid to be ‘creative’ during the day, sometimes the last thing I want to do is get back on my laptop and make something more.
I also find it a hard balance sometimes between consumption and production. I’m a huge magazine fan, so I look, read and watch a lot about magazines, and sometimes you need that, but at other times you need space.
Also, one more! I think one thing I got quite frustrated with when I first went freelance was that I wasn’t getting the sort of projects I wanted, I was becoming resentful of little projects where I couldn’t be that ‘creative’ with the brief. But it takes time to get to where you want to be, and it’s also in these projects that you can learn a lot of other skills and good discipline, and it makes it all that more sweeter when great projects do come in.
You entered our competition which saw your illustration feature on the back cover of Motive, can you tell us a little about the process of how that illustration came about?
I loved that project and actually I thought of the idea fairly quickly, which doesn’t always happen! When I thought about what motivated me to create, it often was after I’d been outside, getting away from the screen and getting some fresh air really helps when you come back to work. And I wanted to mix that with the tools that people use to create that aren’t just your computer, so it just seemed to come together quite nicely that one!
What has been your favourite project thus far?
As I particularly love magazines, it has to be the work I do for Boneshaker magazine. I’ve laid out articles for them in the last 5 issues and I love the stories I get to read, the photos that go with it and freedom to be creative in how those are presented. I also really enjoyed working on a cycling book with a small agency I did some work for, again working with great content can really inspire more ideas.
If you could sum up your portfolio in a sentence, what would it be?
That’s hard, I’ll try not to sound cheesy, so I’d say my portfolio is at the moment pretty broad, but steadily homing in on what I feel I’m best at.
Any big plans/dreams for 2016?
Ooh yeah, I always get teased because I absolutely love new years resolutions, so I have some plans! I’d like to make a real start on the plan I have to one day start my own magazine, I want to do something different to others that are out there, and I’d like to create a group of people who are interested in the same things. I’ve also got plans to design a series of Bristol-based T-shirts, that would be cool!
What advice would you give to emerging artists in your field?
What we get to do is great, appreciate it, be prepared to work hard for it sometimes, what we do is way more fun than a lot of jobs, so try not to take it for granted. For freelancers a good bit of advice I was given is to do something everyday that will push your work out there a bit more, it might be writing a blog post, it might just be following some new designers on twitter. Also, something that's always good to remember, be honest and good to people, embrace the time you are in and work you have right now, there are pros to all different creative roles and disciplines, whether one-man freelancer or big agency.
And also, make sure you get away from your screen and get outside.
All images copyright Max Randall