James Good [jamesgood]
What is your specialty?
Primarily identity design, but my agency also provides general graphic design, web design and marketing services.
Where can we view your portfolio online?
What made you interested in design?
I think it's in you. You're either a designer or you're not. You'll know it too... you'll be the type of person that criticises absolutely everything, constantly making suggestions on how things could be improved, redesigning things in your mind, obsessing over tiny little details that might seem insignificant to others, but they're not... they matter to you.
What has been your professional career path?
I grew up in the print trade in the family printing firm. In 1997 I started working as an independent designer. In 2002 I incorporated my agency. In 2007 I made the conscious effort to grow my agency. Today we are 9 people strong and growing incredibly fast.
Have you received any awards for your work in the field of design?
2010 - Winner of Cardiff Design Festival's 'Best of Welsh Design' Award - Brand Design Category.
2009 - Winner of Swansea Bay's Young Creative Award
How would you define your design style?
Strongly conceptual, yet very clean and simple.
How do you promote and move your work?
Our website is our primary promotional tool. We know that most people come through Google, networking, or personal recommendations, all of which are backed up by a good website.
We also put out a regular newsletter that has been very well received.
In which new areas would you like to experiment?
I wouldn't call it experiment, that sounds slightly frivolous. We are currently exploring the possibilities of utilising our inhouse skills to start offering branded apps to our clients, enabling them to expand their reach into their market place.
Shapes, color, concept: where do you usually begin when conceiving a design?
Understanding and concept. Always.
Without both of these elements a design is just a pretty picture at best!
Which festivals or awards in your field do you find most interesting?
The Design Business Association's Design Effectiveness Award. It's the only award that a designer can win based on the recognition of achieving tangible business benefits. It ignores subjectivity and rewards those that have the ability to utilise creativity to achieve clear business objectives. It's worth it's weight in gold to me and I hope to be a very proud owner of one next year.
What is your favourite type of customer?
Our favorite clients are those that see value in what we do and embrace what design and creativity can offer. An organisation that doesn't resent spending a budget, but is excited by the prospect and appreciates that the tangible benefits of the project will soon be realised. A client that rolls out our work with positivity throughout the entire organisation.
To a certain point, is copying justifiable?
No. Straight copying is never justifiable. Taking inspiration and being influenced by other designs is impossible to avoid. Taking a seed of an idea, expanding upon it and applying it in a completely different manner is natural progression. Outright copying is not design, that's not why we're designers.
List some things you dislike seeing in design.
Clients buying design from inexperienced designers purely because it's cheap. Hate it. Good design is absolutely fundamental for successfully achieving goals and those that fail to recognise this fact don't give themselves a fighting chance.
I also hate free-pitching, especially when done in an organised manner by public sector organisations. It's a huge drain on the resources of many small agencies that can least afford it. We were recently invited to pitch for a small rebrand project and were told that we were one of twelve agencies in the running. This was organised and encouraged by a design association. Horrific. We politely declined. We have always refused to free-pitch, we'd be delighted if our fellow design agencies would place more value on their time and do the same.
Do you believe the newer generations are better at designing?
I believe we need a healthy mix. There's a lot to be said for experience and there's as much to be said about fresh blood and new thinking. Surely the two working in harmony is always going to offer the best of both worlds.
With which type of client would you decline in working for?
A battery hen farm. There's no sitting on the fence on this one!
How do you calculate budgets for a design project?
In our agency our budgets correlate directly with the amount of time we plan to spend working on a project. I expect this will change as our reputation grows, and we'll likely have more fixed prices that take into consideration our expertise and experience.
Which professionals in your field -contemporary or past- do you most admire?
Micheal Wolff. I appreciate that this is terribly cliché, but whenever I hear the man speak I feel a sense of familiarity and understanding. The things he says have a profound resonance with me and my natural character.
Which software applications do you most utilize in your work?
Adobe's Creative Suite
Up to what point do your designs reflect your personality?
Our designs are created to be an absolute reflection of our clients' personalities, who they really are. We feel it's incredibly important that an identity makes the connection between what the intended audience wants to see and who the client actually is. Without this connection there is a breakdown in confidence somewhere down the chain.
However, with that said, we do have a very strong house style and every design we produce is brimming with our blood, sweat and tears. Inevitably we will have an influence on the design style and our designs will be a reflection of our own personality too... but our clients chose us, because we were a good fit for them!
How do you distinguish passing fads from mainstays in new trends?
A better question might be - How do you stay 'on trend' rather than constantly playing catchup? or Who is responsible for trend setting?
As designers we have the power to influence trends and ultimately set them. In my opinion the best way to be on-trend is to have a good appreciation of what's happening in the world around you. To have a strong interest in new designs and the creators of those designs. Then, when designing, go with your gut instinct. If it feels exciting it probably is. If it feels new it probably is. If you're excited by your work the world will probably share your excitement and you'll be far more likely to be on-trend.
If someone recognises a trend and then creates a design based upon that trend... you're probably a little too late.
On a related note, in my area of expertise, identity design, we try not to be too trendy. Our work needs to stand the test of time and not go out of fashion too quickly.
If you weren't a designer, what would you be doing?
Leading another business. It would probably be far more profitable and far more successful than my current design business, but I wouldn't enjoy it quite as much!
At this moment, what would be your dream job or project?
We thrive on very corporate projects. Our dream job would be the rebranding of a huge international corporation and the implementation and roll out across the world. GE, are you listening?! We're ready now!
Can you see yourself in this field twenty years from now?
Without a shadow of a doubt. I absolutely love what I do. Design & creativity chose me. There is nothing else that I could apply myself to with the same level of enthusiasm.
Which design resources online do you frequently visit?
Design Week used to be our go-to publication for all things current in the design community. We'll see how it's transition to online-only will affect our opinion.
We also produce our own called Good Stuff - http://www.jamesgood.co.uk/email/newsletter/good-stuff-july-2011.html
London, United Kingdom