Hold onto your seats as we are SUPER excited to be joined by the amazing Logo Designer James Barnard @barnardco!
Award-winning logo designer, seasoned freelancer, design educator, dad and owner of Barnard.co, James had a less-than-traditional introduction to the industry.
Join us tomorrow for part 1 of an awesome conversation with Logo Designer James Barnard, as we uncover the man behind the mastery, talking about his backwards beginnings in the industry, his freelance journey, a feature in logo lounge and everything in between!
I did a logo for the Finnish gold reserve. It's an unofficial Finnish gold reserve. It's like a gold reseller recycler and, you know, storage place in Helsinki, Finland. And the Gold Bar, they paid part of their invoice in 10 grams of 24 karat gold. And I got this little package of FedEx from the post and I posted about it and everyone was like, don't open the package because it devalues the gold. I was like, fuck you. I want to hold it in my hands, mate. Rub it every day if we're luck. And that was amazing, though, because I was like, okay, I want some gold. Let's do a little switch services here.
You're listening to The Angry Designer, where we cut through the industry bull to help frustrated graphic designers survive and thrive. What's up, angry designers? So I'm trolling Instagram like I normally do, and on a daily basis, as well as Reddit and TikTok and everywhere else where I find inspiration. And there is this haunting handsome guy following me everywhere I go. It's like, I see him here, he's telling me these stories and it's creeping me out everywhere I look. I mean, this guy's face is all over the place and he's giving us good information. And sure enough, doesn't he reach out and be like, you guys are crazy. I mean, just stop. And conversation started. And we are here today to present our friend from Down Under, but maybe not quite so down under, mr. James Brownhardt.
Thank you very much. Yeah, I properly stoked you guys, didn't I? We're this close to a restraining order, dude, seriously.
But, you know, in Canada, restraining order is please stop. Please stop following.
You're hurting your feelings. Sorry. That's right. What's up, man?
It's amazing to finally actually chat to you guys in person. I'm a big fan of the podcast. Like were saying before. Thank you. I discovered you guys via Alan Peters. So I'm quite new to your podcast and maybe only so a month or two of episodes I've actually listened to. But I'm hoping you guys are going to be as chipper as you normally are because the bourbon today, aren't you?
Yeah, there's no bourbon. There is Starbucks, so we'll keep away from the bourbon.
Today. We tried.
Yes, we did, this week's.
It's seven in the morning here, so we got up extra early for you, but for you it's like ten at night. 09:00 at night.
09:00 at night. Yeah, but this is, like, standard for me because of the horrible time difference in Australia. I am constantly burning the midnight oil and especially when I want to talk to places like London in business hours, I've got to be kind of pulling these hours, so I just start a little bit later in the morning. I start my day like midday and just work from there.
So this is a normal thing then? See because I just assumed if people down in Australia I mean, it's a big enough country to hold its own. But you're right, this is so much a global economy right now, what we're dealing with, what we do, we serve every corner of the Earth. So I guess you do have to accommodate a little bit, eh?
Yeah, absolutely. I think that's one of the reasons why I've had so much success with the kind of logo design business and the sort of social media side of things is because I'm targeting places like the States, places like Europe and England where I'm from. But I can live the life in Australia where they don't pay anything for graphic design. Trying to get paid down here. So, yeah, it makes sense for me to kind of target that global market, and there's no reason that I really need to be in a sort of time zone where it's more convenient other than I get a little bit more sleep. But if I can target the world as my client, then I'm absolutely going to do that.
It is good. So you did say something funny, though. See, all this time, I mean, let's just expose you as a fraud here right now, because all this time, I thought you were Australian, right? Got the accent from Know. You dropped, you know, the Australian vibe. And then brisbane. Brisbane. And then we find out you're UK, you're like an expat, and you moved to Australia, which I thought was impossible to do. I thought they just it was a closed country and they didn't let anybody in. And you jumped in at the worst possible time, didn't you?
I did. I emigrated in the middle of the Pandemic during a lockdown. Right. So the story is, I'm from the UK, I'm English. We lived in London with my Australian wife, who was missing the sort of call of home. So in 2021, it was we packed up, rented out our house, got on a plane, landed in Brisbane, which is where her parents live, which is the reason we sort of targeted this area. We had to do two weeks of quarantine in a hotel in Brisbane with a two year old daughter. So were stuck in. Luckily, we got a suite. Okay? So we got really lucky, like the stories of other people. Got these tiny little rooms and had to stay in there for two weeks. We got a suite. We were allowed beer delivered, so it wasn't that bad. We had a kitchenette and there was a TV, and we couldn't get weird things delivered.
They wouldn't let us have gym equipment, so we couldn't even do any kind of remote working out. We had to go on YouTube and just jump up and down in the living room to stay active.
Your daughter's thinking it's like we used.
Her as, like, a weight because it.
Was the only thing we could was.
So she sat on our back while were doing press ups.
Got to get mileage out of having children. I agree.
Sorry. Yeah, so they're good for otherwise, but.
You know, it's kind of cool. Oh, we can have a lot of stories about that.
Smell a spin off.
The angry parent.
Would you be our first guest?
Yeah, that's the next.
Nothing to do with design. Just talk about how shit it is being a dad.
Dude, I got four kids, so my youngest is seven and my oldest is 14. I got two in the middle there.
I'm all suspicious of anybody that has more than two kids. Are you just like into sort of self flagellation?
Right. The jump from two to three is unreal.
Jump from one to two was enough for me. I have a two year old and a four year old and they beat the shit out of me.
You're in the middle.
I tell everybody, like, I'm in the trenches right now because it is like full on labor and like psychological warfare as well. My daughter, she's just like, I'm not talking to you, Daddy, I'm talking to Mummy. And it's like, Jesus Christ.
Yeah, wait till she turns twelve. That's all I got to say.
Please. Oh, my God.
That's amazing. The Australia jump over was kind of interesting, obviously, and I mean, now it was crazy back then. You're kind of probably looking at some really good memories. But what about adjusting? I mean, your business was at what stage when you made this jump?
Pretty new in terms of the Niching Down thing. So I went freelance. I think it was like seven or eight years ago. But when the sort of pandemic hit, my daughter was, I think, like one or something like that. She's really young. And at that time I was doing the stay at home dad thing. My wife earned way more than I did, so she carried on at work and I did the stay at home dad thing for something like ten or eleven months. Just sort of keeping a freelance career trickling along with the OD client here or there that I could do when she was asleep, but nowhere near as kind of upscaled as I did when I got here. And when I got here, I kind of really sort of ramped it up a lot more. I did a lot more work on my website and the SEO side of things.
And then well, actually I had really good SEO in London, but just before I left, I think logo designer London was the key term that like nailed. I was top for that. I think it was freelance logo designer London. I was number one on Google. I was like, yes. And then I moved to Australia and fucked it all, so I had to kind of start from scratch in that respect. And then, yeah, just a few things happened and it kind of got the ball rolling on social media. And then when that also kind of took off, that was just absolutely yeah.
I was going to say because social media is a hard game right now that has changed. There used to be a point where you could work on your site, you could start getting decent rankings, you could play the game because you could almost understand what Google was looking for. But then they started unloading all these new domains. Now it's not just CA, but then there's like it every country's got their own.
I couldn't get.
You'Re not battling one site, you're battling 20 sites with the same name and with the same title. It just seems like it's almost an impossible game at this point to try to win. Are you still focusing on SEO? Have you switched over to social?
It's social. It's such a massive swing. In terms of leads. For me, I think it's like 85%. I worked out the other day is all from is my leads is from social media. Wow. I got to go where the love is, right? If there's that many leads coming through from there, then I'm totally going to start creating content for them. But I have a blog on my site, so I'm trying to keep the content sort of fresh. And I obviously update the portfolio. So it is kind of keeping the yes, Google, we're still here kind of mentality, keeping the content still going. But yeah, in those early days when I was trying a bit harder with SEO, it wasn't that hard, honestly. I wrote a few articles, changed the structure of the content on my site, got a little bit of a website background, like I used to know WordPress, so I could just do a few things and write some articles and change the landing pages and just put a lot of keywords in there.
And in the space of like a couple of months there, I was number one for freelance logo designer, London. And that really helped. The leads went crazy, but it was enough to keep me going, enough to.
Keep you going in the flip side until you built up this side. So your story, though, even getting into this is a lot different than the rest of mean. You know, some people had a very traditional know schooling, out of know internship. I kind of always knew what I wanted. You were more traditional and then freelance to go. So you kind of went into this backwards because let's talk about your story. I mean, again, you went to school.
For music, multimedia and electronics. I was a drummer that wanted to be a record producer. Yeah, I used to play drums.
It's like I'm looking at the same guy here, look. Doppelganger you guys look the same? Sorry.
I wish I still had a drum kit. I can't know. I just can't. There's like neighbors everywhere and the kids destroy it. So when I get rich, and famous. I'm going to get a room, and that isn't at the corner of the house for my office. It's going to be a room with padded and Xboxes on the walls and soundproof stuff. I wanted to be a music producer, so I went to school to study that and I learned, like, Pro Tools and all of the sort of sound engineering side of things. But one of my modules at university was HTML, so we learnt, like, table based websites, and this would have been.
Like 2003, 2000, I remember.
Yeah. So I learned my first website was built on this sort of university servers in tables, and I was like, that's pretty cool. And I kind of picked up photoshop to compress a few images. But then I went to a job as a researcher in London. I just basically moved to London, tried to find a job and ended up as this researcher for sort of PR database. And obviously, I worked there for, like, four years and really didn't enjoy it because it was just kind of grunt office work and database entry, super demoralizing stuff. But in the job, I picked up a copy of Photoshop to create a company intranet and kind of started the side hobby of wanting to be a web designer. Made a company intranet in WordPress for the entire staff. And they loved it. And I was like, this is cool.
I started doing sort of free websites on the side for a local chiropractor and a local interior designer. And I look back on them now and they were beyond shit, but I.
Was doing them for free.
I thought they were amazing at the time. You get what you pay for. I gave them away.
I used it as, like, to build a portfolio. I think I got three or four websites. So I started out as, like, a web designer. So, yeah, I used that portfolio, inverted commerce portfolio, to get a job. I totally blagged a job at Runners World magazine in London. So at the time, I was quite into running. I was running marathons and I thought, there's a total sort of marry up here. I've got a little bit of design skills, but I'm a super junior. But I'm totally into running. Maybe they'll take me on because of my kind of passion for jogging at the time. Awesome at the time. And they were like, yeah, let's do it. So I got a proper junior role at the age of, like, 25. I went backwards and took a massive pay cut to take on this junior design role. And I was basically thrown in the deep end, creating digital banners, flash adverts, email newsletters, little landing pages for this sort of the advertising side of this magazine.
And then while I was there, obviously surrounded by magazine designers, learnt print, so it was backwards for me. I started digitally learned print on the job. So to this day, I feel completely out of my comfort zone in print still, because it is always a secondary thing for me. So, yeah, when I heard your podcast about all of these little print techniques, I was like, yes, I am good.
It's this hole that people don't know because, I mean, it's still a very viable medium in our world. Granted, it's not the number one because so much of the world has gone digital, but it's completely the opposite. Like, the little bit of print knowledge that you think you have is miles ahead of what's already out there. Which is really sad because, I mean, even in school, they're not doing a great job teaching it. You don't hear many people. Obviously, we've got some people and some acquaintances, like our friend from the Quickie podcast who's trying to make an effort to teach people print, but it seems like people aren't giving it the love it needs.
No. I did a post on my socials about Rich Black.
I remember that.
It's so nerdy.
I love it. I know it was proper geek out. But your comments I was blown away by the amount of people that just had no idea about it. I thought I was teaching people to suck eggs. I was like, you guys have heard about this before, right? And then everyone was like, what the fuck? And then it was just nuts. So just little things like that. Okay, well, then that's interesting. Maybe I'll just do a little bit more content around that and started doing a couple of posts about why you print in CMYK versus RGB. And again, that one blew up, and it's like, well, people fucking don't know anymore. I know no one's designing for print.
But, I mean, don't they see the difference? Because, I mean, they're designing something digitally. When you do print it out, whether it's a business card or a flyer or whatever, you can see it doesn't look like on screen. And you'd think people would make more of a connection. But I'm just wondering if people are accepting shitty colored print documents nowadays. It's just everywhere. A lot of our clients, we focus very much on the B, two B side of the world, right? So print is still very big. There's still a lot of trade shows, there's still a lot of face to face meetings. But the other side, I'm wondering so much of the B to C world is done online that I wonder if print is even obviously, it's not as important as we feel it is.
Yeah, I think there's something to be said about the methods to do the print material these days. Specifically, when you're getting merch printed on something like Redbubble or one of those printable websites, their software is so good at conversion that you kind of don't need to worry about it. They kind of handle that all for you. So you can force through this beautiful RGB image. And they'll just kind of go, we know what to do. And they'll fix it for you and match it up. So, yeah, maybe there's this kind of like a sort of skill, like a miss of skills there where you're kind of getting away with it for so long. You don't actually have to actually switch print.
But you have to admit, when you get a package, when you get my wife subscribes to these boxes that come in and they're just they're beautiful, like the colors. And then the experience and opening, there is something to be said. It's very analog, the experience, right? You're opening, you're touching, you're feeling. It's the crinkling of the paper. Even one of the best experiences about buying a flippin'apple product is that opening experience, the box opening package.
There's always something that I loved because I started out as a digital designer, anytime I had something printed in the office or I got to work on, like, a magazine page, I was like, and now I'm going to shit. When you design something online and you share it on Facebook, look what I did in it. Yeah, but when you can hold it in your hands and go, look, I made that. That's fucking amazing.
So true, right? It does. All right. So then you were in the magazine world for then quite a while, right? And you were actually learning on the job design. Like, did you ever make the jump to actually designing some layouts and such?
Yeah, I did. So they got me to do the promotional pages for Runners World and Men's Health magazine. So I was again thrown in the deep end. Didn't have a clue. What I was doing was throwing 100% black boxes and people were going, add the shiners. And I was like, what's a shiner? Little things like that. I just had no idea about anything. So I learned very quickly on the job. Didn't even know how to use InDesign, if I'm honest, because I was learning everything in Photoshop. And so, yeah, luckily had a team of really good sort of in house designers that taught me and sort know, really helped me build my sort of print experience. And from there I bounced to another magazine house. Met my wife, Bauer Media. She was on the radio side. So were sort of working together there. I then went to the Daily Telegraph, which is a national newspaper in the UK.
Newspaper guy, see?
Yeah. Did loads of print there.
Is it the same? I tell you parallels. I worked in newspaper for 15 years.
Yeah. So I worked on the marketing team. Oh, nice.
So they had like a massive sort of commerce side to the business. They had everything from newsletters about gardening to sort of travel. So there's all sorts of shit that they were selling. And I was basically doing promotional pages and adverts inside the paper as well as online and that was know, Sean knows how much pressure that job was. It was a daily national newspaper. The turnover was insane. So that was a proper sink or swim job. Like if you didn't keep up there, you were just out and really long hours, really fast paced. It was kinded like just over a year before I was so burnt out that I went somewhere else. It was great. It was a great experience and I learned loads and I actually got to that was my first kind of managerial position where I had a junior and I could take them on and teach them a little bit.
Yeah. And then I moved to another newspaper, the Times and The Sun, as part of their internal marketing team and it was worse. I was told that it was going to be like an agency space and I would have project managers and people that would sort of help me out and relieve me from sort of the feeling like it was like clients hitting me every day in the head. It was worse. It was more stressful, more fast paced, and I lasted six weeks before I left. Wow, it was so bad. I'm sure they won't mind me saying, but it was just an absolutely soul destroying role and I was like, what have I done? I left a pretty high intense job with at least colleagues that I liked and got on well with to a place where I was being managed by someone who wasn't so great.
And the high pressure side of things was just brutal. So I left and went freelance. I went freelance to kind of sort of pay the bills while I found another role. And I immediately discovered this freelance life is the tits, I'm not going back.
But again, you said it did start small, it started slow when you did freelance. From there you didn't even work agency at all. You went magazine to freelance and again that jump. And then again you came from a layout background. So then what were you kind of freelance gigs.
So I was lucky. Like while I was working at some of those magazines, I was freelancing for other departments. So I had a little bit of a sort of relationship with a few of the project managers across a load of different magazines. So when I went freelance, I had a little bit of kind of beer money trickling. But this is the point where I went to agencies on a day rate. So I was a freelancer sort of gun for hire. I went to every single recruiter in London looking for a job. They were like, we haven't got much in a way of permanent, but if you want some agency work just to kind of fill the gap while you look for something new, there's this and this. And I just as soon as I got in that first agency and the agency went back he's quick, he's efficient.
Then word kind of got around and I started bouncing around loads of different agencies in London. They again, were pretty fast paced, but another sort of huge learning curve there as well. But I got to work on some huge campaigns across loads of different big agencies in London and really got some great experience there. So, yeah, for a few years I was a freelancer, kind of gun for hire. I would go into an office, sit in the corner of my laptop and do what they told me I was usually working on. You know, I'd go in and help them out in a really fast paced environment for like maybe a week until they eventually pitched. And then I was kind of move on, go somewhere else. So, yeah, it was really good fun. And then COVID hit lockdown, everybody started working from home. My daughter was born total slowdown on the work, so I thought, okay, I need to kind of get some retainer clients going here and again reaching out.
I worked for a restaurant, I worked for a few different brands and had them on sort of rolling retainer. And then this, I basically watched every video by Chris Doe. Okay, so I learned about the business of design and how to better sell my services and realized I wasn't getting as much as I could out of this. I could sell myself a lot better, I can manage my time a lot better. And then his advice was basically, if you've got enough experience behind you can niche down into an area and make yourself an expert within that niche. And then people will come to you for certain types of jobs. Because I was under for ages that you had to have this broad set of skills in order to appeal to clients. So you can actually cover everything like web design, print design, logo design. But then by niching down becoming the expert in one area, it's easier to find clients because they find you more easily.
And that's totally what I did. I rewrote everything on my website, decided logo design is the way forward now because it was the part of the industry I enjoyed the most. That was the reason I think I went into sort of logo design. I've tried everything.
Yeah, no, fair enough. So when you were doing retainer stuff, you were doing regular work, banners, month to month type work now the logo side of the world. And again, I'm a huge fan of niche. We niche in a very different way. While we are still generalists as an agency, we've niched our area of expertise like our industry, and that has worked wonders for us. The best thing we could have done. But again, we're still broad offering a breadth of services to a small market where you're offering a very niche service to a big market. So I live and breathe. Retainers is your world. Just hunt to eat. Like you're constantly hunt, kill, eat, hunt, because it's a very different world, isn't it?
It is, yeah, you're right, because I had that retainer and I wasn't enjoying that retainer work, if I'm honest. It was for two major clients that I was doing the same kind of work over and over again. And I was waking up in the morning to a list of things to do and it was kind of, if I'm honest, a little bit boring because it was so repetitive. Whereas the logo design stuff was like pure creation, starting from scratch from a blank canvas, making something for a client and building a brand for someone from scratch. And I was like, I love it. You can kind of throw up your ideas and come up with something that's purely from your heart. And I thought, okay, if I'm going to make this work, I need to start basically taking this more seriously and I need to slowly start to fire these retainer clients.
And it took about six months for me to get enough logo design business in to eventually say to this last client, okay, I'm sorry, I can't do any more retainer work for you anymore. It's been great. Thanks for all the love and appreciate it, but I've got to move on to pastures new. And that was fucking scary because that was regular monthly income that I just decided to kind of fuck myself and go, if I'm going to do this, I need to actually do it. And firing that client was the first step and it was bloody scary to that first month where I didn't have that regular paycheck and I was like, I've got to get, like, regular logo design work now. Yeah, it was bloody scary.
Anyway, was your wife working at that time?
Yep, she was. So she luckily managed to keep her job from the UK while were here in London. Sweet. So she was working remotely. So, yeah, it was a bit of a weird overlap with how it all worked out, but there wasn't much. It was bad for maybe a month or so and then things started sort of ticking over. But then, I think, sort of six months after I properly niched, I decided to put my prices on my website because I was getting loads and loads of inquiries from people saying, can you do my logo for free? I've got $50. Can you get and I was like, of course. It's kind of insulting. Obviously, at that time, the world of fiver people were just kind of getting them for absolutely nothing and trying to argue that with people, the value of it was really tough.
And so I decided to put, like, a floor price on my website, which I thought was reasonable. Turned out it wasn't so reasonable and got no leads in two months. And that was fucking scary because my cash flow dried up completely. And I tried everything to kind of sort of solve the wound. I cut the prices in half, that didn't work, then put some paid advertising behind my website. That was a disaster. And then eventually took them back off again and just got as many sort of incoming leads coming through. And then I'd sort of massage them slowly back to the point where I could get a little bit of money coming in.
And this is when you were getting a lot of your leads from your website? Not, obviously, through social.
Yeah, because Social thing hadn'ticked off yet.
Yeah, absolutely. I know the value is hard. I mean, it's impossible to just kind of base what the value is of a logo just based on a number. Right. And I could totally see how that backfires. But you offered three packages and you still do have three different packages on there.
That's right, yeah. So what I did was there's like a startup professional and Deluxe package I need to come up with better names for. All right, but the startup was like the floor. It's a logo and a style guide. That's basically all you get. And I at least sort of throw in a one page style guide with every logo project so that they at least know the hex codes for their company and what their fonts are. So I was giving that away, but essentially it was JPEGs, EPS and PNGs. And I was like, okay, that's the price for that, everything else, anything you want on top of it, inquire for a price. So that floor price, though, was apparently still too much for some people, everybody, and it being the Internet, they just bounced to a competitor. Do you know what I mean? So it was a weird even when I took the prices off, I still got paid the same.
It was just the fact that first initial inquiry, without me getting the opportunity to rationalize why it costs that much, what you're actually getting, and actually talk to the client, maybe massage a little bit more out of them. They were just bouncing to a competitor and I got absolutely no work for two months. It was awful. Yeah.
And it changed when you got rid of the pricing. You were able to start selling, talking to people, selling them the value. So do you think it was solely based on price or do you think it's because the human component was missing? Because now, obviously, if they want the price, they have to reach out, start that conversation, because it's just as much about liking the person having that connection as it is about the dollar figure. Right. Because sometimes I've taken jobs, we've taken jobs. The personality fit wasn't there and in the end, it wasn't worth the money, even if the money was great.
Right. There's also projects that I'd missed out on that I probably would have taken on the cheap because they were cool. During that whole period, I won one job, and it was a lead through Reddit. Someone contacted me through one of my posts on Reddit. At the time, I was doing okay, doing little time lapse videos of me making logos, and a motorcycle club from Texas asked me to do their badge. And this is the best job ever. I'll do it almost for nothing. I think I got like $500 for it or something like that. That and I was like, I happily would have taken on jobs like that were cool and maybe had a bit of a longer lead time in order just to do the project because I just wanted to do it so much. So that was really interesting. Like, I got a lead not through my website that totally worked and was kind of willing to do from a totally different source rather than through the website.
So it was clear that the website pricing just was not working. Just the psychology of it, seeing that hard price set in stone like that was just off putting for so many people. There was no chance for me to talk to them. There was no chance for me to kind of rationalize why it costs that much and they would just go somewhere else.
So what is that customer experience with you? Obviously, it starts with a lead of some sort. Whether it's through social, we'll get into that more, of course, because you are the king of social. But whether it's through social or whether it's from Reddit or whatever, then what.
Does it look like initially? Right now, it looks like a form. So I've recently kind of got serious with it and I was getting so many leads come through and copying pasting things into an Excel document, it was becoming a nightmare. It goes through a sort of questionnaire form. It's very simple, though. It's like, who are you? Give me a loose overview of what you're after. Here are some budget ranges. Where do you kind of slot into that? So it's not like it's going to cost this much. Look out. It's like, what is your current budget right now? And so I get an idea for how big their company is straight off the bat, and from there, if they're serious and the timelines work, then we'll jump on a call. So that's usually I'll go back with like a sort of ballpark, okay. If they've set the budget quite low, I'll maybe go, okay, well, you're not quite there in terms of where I'm working here's, where I sort of a ballpark of where I usually start.
If you're willing to have a chat about it, let's jump on a call. And that's a much more sort of soft approach, and it actually guides people into that. That okay, maybe it's going to cost a bit more, but we can talk about it. And there's areas that I can cut back on. I can reduce deliverables and the timings can extend. And having that conversation rather than, this is what it's going to cost, it's my way or the highway, this just will not work. And from there, it's like the usual it's the logo discovery. And then, well, you know how it works.
So do you find that when they come in at a lower figure than you'd want to work with to start, do you think that it's because they're just trying to lowball, they're trying to get the best for the least? Or do you do and then that upsell ends up so you're not selling value. Are you selling additional items like, how are you bringing that rate?
Kind of, yes. So there's two ways I look at it. A lot of the leads that I get through social are your mom and pop shops or people who's starting up new brands that they don't quite have the budget. But it's not necessarily means that I'm not going to work with them. Just means that they might need to ramp up to it, and I might need to kind of guide their hand slightly. But then when you get an email from someone and you check them out a little bit and you do your research and you realize these guys have got some cash to spend, that's when I'll tailor that approach slightly and talk about the value of the logo and how that might work for them. It's not like a process that's set in stone, of course. Totally depends who reaches out to me. And like I say, there are some projects where it's so cool.
Let's say it's like a bookstore that's a really new up and coming kind of brand that I want to be a part of. I will totally drop my price to work with them as long as other things kind of sort of swapped out. So maybe the timeline extends, or we work on maybe an exchange of professional services. There might be something like a tech company, and I want some goodies I'll do it that way. Or a bit of merch or some people. There we go. Yeah, you heard that story. Gold bar.
He gets a gold bar, and he's like, Look, I just got a gold.
Bar for a job. I did a logo for the Finnish gold reserve. It's an unofficial Finnish gold reserve. It's like a gold reseller recycler and storage place in Helsinki, Finland. And the gold bar, they paid part of their invoice in 10 grams of 24 karat gold. And I got this little package from FedEx from the Post, and I posted about it, and everyone was like, don't open the package because it devalues the gold. I was like, fuck you. I want to hold it in my hands, rub it every day if we're luck. That was amazing, though, because I was like, okay, I want some gold. Let's do a little switcheroo services here. And I think they got some advertising templates, some InDesign templates, and a logo animation in return for 10 grams of I love that.
That's amazing, the things that we do. Right? But, I mean, again, is it something that you actively continue to pursue, like finding other methods of payment?
Yeah, so I get quite a lot of designers reach out to me and offer, can I help you in your role? And unfortunately, I have a very good assistant who I've recently hired because things have ramped up so much, and I'm finding that I'm spending a lot of time on doing things like creating brand style guides and templates that are maybe not the best use of my time. Someone has come in. She's a lovely lady called Beatrice, and she lives in Germany, and she has a very competitive hourly rate, let's just put it that way. She's amazing and works really quickly. So that kind of doesn't work in the design side of things. But yeah, tech companies who've got the goodies and can send me stuff for free, I always like that. And like, gold bars, honestly, it totally depends on the client and who they are.
So that's why I kind of like the process now, whereas it's really tailored and I check each lead individually and I check them out and actually do my own research on them to kind of see whether I really want to work with this person or not.
So is it just based on price when you just can't get there with a person? Or have you found there have been other reasons why you wanted to why you just couldn't get to that point?
I've got a little rule no religion, no politics. Right.
Anything that's too diversive or something that I don't quite agree with, I won't do it. And it's hard to yeah, absolutely. Some people like to just charge the moon for projects like that when they don't want to do them, but sometimes they say yes, and then you're buggered. They want to pay you 20 grand. And I don't really want to work with these guys, but there's so much money.
Yeah, it's true.
Yeah. So it's a small sort of field of people that I won't work with, but I do like getting paid, so it's a very small.
You have you actually taken one of these that you've.
Shut that down? Yeah. Shut that down. Yeah. No way.
That's funny. And yet he goes on about Alan Peters, and that's completely the opposite. Right. Because he is very much you see him with political and you do see him within his religious circle as well, which his work is awesome with that, too. But at the same time, it's an interest for him, and he is genuinely interested in both of those.
Between the religion and then between the politics. So that makes sense for him.
Right. His work kind of speaks for itself in that regard. Yeah, it kind of does. It's so inspiring and so reductive that he's just like the king of the badge. And I've chatted with him and this is one of the great things about my recent success on social is I've got access to people like Alan Peters and James Martin who are now like my pals. And a year ago I wouldn't have been able to say that. And now I'm getting to hang out with these guys and talk to them on a daily basis and learning from them as well. And I got to chat to Alan Peters for a good hour like you guys did. And I learned so much from that guy.
Yeah, you talked to Chris Doe as well.
How scary is that?
Yeah, Sean was scared of Chris.
He's bloody intimidating of what happened. It was really weird. I have a pal of mine in the UK, runs a podcast called he Shoots, He Draws. And I got on his podcast. He knows Chris because he's done events and he's been in a cab with him at one point. And I found out Chris was going to be in Brisbane for this conference and I was like, Right, I'm never going to see him again. He's in Australia. He's like an hour down the road from me right now. I messaged him on Instagram and he's so popular on social media, there wasn't hope in hell of me getting through to him. I spoke to my pal Dave and he was like, oh, I know him. I was dropping my text and before I knew it, I was like, meeting up with Chris in a hotel lobby in Brisbane before his next flight to go to Sydney.
And in between his sort of layover, I got to spend 2 hours chatting to Chris Doe. Wow. Over coffee. There were some other guys there because he was doing like a sort of come and meet me before I go for the next flight. I got some time to kill. So I was kind of like sit and listening to absolutely everything and trying to get as much as I could out of the guy. And it was amazing. When Dave met him at Adobe Max last year, dave told Chris about my TikTok, which was sort of starting to ramp up then. And he got him to sign a book, Chris DOE's book. And in the inscription it says, your TikToks suck. Try harder, please. It was a bit of a joke, right. So when I finally met Chris after this inscription, we did a little TikTok video and he totally played along and we got a picture of me punching him in the face for saying that in the book and it was really cool.
He's such a nice guy, obviously. Hugely intimidating person when you see his videos and his socials in person. An absolute gentleman.
Different person, isn't he?
Yeah, he's brilliant.
And a lot of that, I do feel, is persona, what you're putting out to the world. Right? Because he does. He talks about confidence. He talks about arrogance. He talks about and that's his shtik. Right. He is completely different than varied. And that's fine. There's nothing wrong with it. But you're right. When you actually sit and talk to the gentleman, to the guy, he's completely different. It's not like he's a goof and he's clowning around. He's very smart and very serious, but he's a lot more the intensity is down. He's a lot more approachable. Right. So I do he's terrified, though.
I'm watching videos of him just undressing.
People and I'm like, I know. And I rocked up at that hotel and ordered a coffee, and I said hello, and he was like, Hi. Wasn't that friendly? I said, oh, fucking oh, this is awkward. It's like a date via Instagram DMs. He does not want to see me. This is fucking painful. So I sat down. Over the next sort of 2 hours, it was he just totally opened up. And there was no pressure. He wasn't being paid for it or anything like that. He sat down, we had a chat, and it was really cool. He gave me some advice on the business, and it was just amazing and weirdly. Now I'm going to get to see him again in October because I'm going to Adobe Max as a speaker. So a year later, the dynamic has changed. I'm suddenly the disciple, and now I've gone up a rung in terms of the pecking order.
Because, again, realistically, okay, I know we've talked, and it sounds like you've been at this for, like, 1015 years, but COVID was only two years ago, three years ago. And I mean, your climb has been you're speaking at Adobe. That's crazy, dude.
Yeah. It's all thanks to social media and, like, social proof.
So I think I'm a good designer. I think I've got my work kind of speaks myself. End of interview. Hang up. I was really lucky. Okay, so I had a project. I entered a few logos into a book called the Logo Lounge and was lucky enough to get three accepted and crazy. That's a prestigious book. It's like it's a book that people use for inspiration across the world. Logo designers all over the world will be looking at this. And I was like, that is cool. I need to share this somewhere. I was on TikTok because I was posting, like, time lapse videos of me making stuff in Adobe Illustrator, kind of just working in the software. My face wasn't on there really at all. I think there was, like, one video on there where I was in front of camera, but I decided just to pick the phone up and go, guys, check this out.
I got in this book. It's fucking cool. I'm really excited. And 3 million people watched it on TikTok. So overnight, my account went from something like, I don't know, like, a few hundred followers to, like, 15,000. And immediately my inbox, because there was loads of content on my page with, like, time lapse videos of logo concepts that I'd done. My inbox filled with leads overnight. And from that moment on, I've been booked out three months solid ever since. And that was January 2022. So TikTok kind of just sort of ramped up, and I thought, that's insane. I've just gotten more leads in a single day than I have over the last six months. Why have I not been doing this sooner? So I started putting more way, more effort into the video content and basically just answering the questions that were coming in the comments.
When someone asked me how I was doing stuff in Illustrator, it was like, what did you do? I just started explaining it a bit more, talking about the logos that got into the book. And so, yeah, that social trend like the Hype train. I had to kind of sort of keep going. Later that year, the same thing happened on Instagram. I did a video that hit 12 million views, and my Instagram account went from, like, I think it was like, 8000 to 120,000 in two weeks.
So, yeah, that was mental. Absolutely mental. So, yeah, you're right. In the kind of grand scheme of things, it's the last couple of years, it's where it's really taken off for me on social media. But because of social proof, when someone comes to your page and they see you've got 300,000 followers on Instagram, it's immediately like, oh, who's this guy? And then they take you a lot more seriously. And I think just because the nature of the content that I make now is all, like, me being the expert, teaching the new designers. It's great for young designers, but it's also amazing when it comes to clients and client leads, because they see you as the teacher and the expert. Why not just go straight to the teacher? And yeah, my lead generation now is just, like, almost all through social media.
And it's funny because it's TikTok, like you said. Is that still primarily you're between the two?
It's between the two, I'd say. I think it probably is slightly more through TikTok because of I guess that's where I kind of got my start. But I started doing case study videos for clients. I called it ticklix, right? TikTok client logo case studies. And some of those have really taken off. And when one of them hit more than a million views, and that one when people see the case studies and those kind of posts lead to huge amounts of leads, so they come in via mostly kind of social Instagram. The leads are a little bit weaker because the DMs are a lot more open. Do you know what I mean? People will kind of just message you through Instagram, and anybody can kind of get in touch with you. TikTok started doing that recently. But before they won't be able to do that. In order to get in touch with you, they've got to go to your website and find out more.
By doing that, they're immediately exposed to the rest of your work. And the leads that were coming through TikTok were bloody juicy. Like, I was getting some really cool projects. So those first projects that I got from TikTok were so cool. I got to do a logo for a 3D print specialist. What else? I got, like, all sorts of bits and pieces. Just like I think the best one, which I again did on the cheap, was a logo for a motor racing team in Texas. In return for doing their T shirt badge, they put my logo on the side of their race car. That's really cool exchange of professional services that I'm happy to get on board with.
So this is kind of proof. I mean, the proof. I always thought that TikTok was the last place I ever wanted to put any effort. Only because I felt because I thought it was all kids and little, like, 1214 year old girls, because that's what mine are and that's where they spend it. But you're actually getting good, qualified leads. You're making money from TikTok. So obviously I was wrong.
And I think a lot of people are, because TikTok has got this very different not that Instagram is much different, but I think Instagram seemed to have always been the grown up version. It's a lot more visual where TikTok wasn't really taken as seriously as some of the other platforms.
Yeah. One of my colleagues, Michelle, I think, put it really well. She basically thinks that TikTok is more of, like, gives you kind of more access to people so it feels more behind the scenes. There's lots and lots of trade craft on there and people showing how they do stuff. And there's clearly loads of small businesses like TikTok for businesses this massive untapped resource where there are like minded professionals wanting to start companies. And I think as well, because of COVID and people working from home and that influx of small businesses that were started up during the pandemic, that totally led into it. So the amount of juicy leads that come from the app, you'd be amazed. It's not all kids. It is a young app, obviously. But there are people out there with money to spend, and there are people out there making content like me.
Raking it in. Because they're actually focusing on their marketing as a kind of, like, behind the scenes look at what they do. And again, shows them as an expert in their industry by showing what they do behind the scenes. And it just leads to organic leads that way. It's amazing. Absolutely.
So, I mean, this roller coaster ride for you has been going so fast, you haven't even had a chance to hit a gap, have you?
Do you mean like, you know, there's.
A there's that lull everybody hits. I mean, the drop off rates are crazy, you know, in our space, whether you're a freelancer, whether you're a graphic designer, and then or an entrepreneur. So a freelance designer has three things going against them. And then again, age also plays a factor to this as well. You haven't had a chance.
Oh, my God. I know what you mean. I know what you mean about the guy. Like that window between your skills and your taste as a graphic designer is not quite where your skills are. Luckily for me, I've always thought my designs are awesome, so I never felt bad about of course, I'm so big fucking headed that it didn't really matter.
But brash TikTok attitude.
Yeah. Confident wanker. Yeah. Basically, I've not had that I have in my former jobs when I was working in magazines. That's where I felt that kind of out of my depth and the impostor syndrome and all of that. Because when I mentioned I worked in that place where I was learning print on the job and I totally blagged that role, I was immediately sunk into the deep end. And a couple of instances in my early career, a few of my work was referred to as like, it looks like a PowerPoint deck and a shit one. Fuck me. That is brutal.
Bad PowerPoint deck.
So, yeah, it wasn't great, if I'm honest. But I learned quickly and I took that feedback on and learned from it. And when time came for me to become a freelancer, by that point, I had enough experience behind me that it was kind of my speed and my efficiency in the software is what sold it for a lot of people. I was so fast in packages like Photoshop and Illustrator and InDesign that when I went in as a freelancer to an agency, I was flying and turning work over so quickly they couldn't believe it. And that's been one of my strong suits is that I work really quickly. And this is totally fed into this sort of new social the content I make for social media, because I was so good in the software, I can teach it. I can teach you how to work quicker in Illustrator.
And that's also become part of my process in logo design now, is that I work insanely fast in the software to generate ideas quickly and iterate quickly inside Illustrator. So it's totally played into the freelance role. Yeah.
So without schooling, because you did not have any sort of design schooling, which is fine. So I'm assuming you are on the team of you don't necessarily need formal education, formal design training in order to become a designer. Is this the case?
Yes and no. I still think an education is important. And I was university educated and I was lucky. That a small part of my module was in that space. So that was my sort of foot in the door, almost. And that was something that kind of helped when I first got that job in graphic design. But I did learn everything outside of school, and I learned everything through courses that I took after the fact, like a few small ones, and mostly on the job. So the hard part was getting that first job. And I did that by doing my own portfolio and a bit of the gift of the gab. And once I had my foot in the door that first time, it was a kind of a snowball effect. I think it was the fact that I'm so good with software, I'm really houndy with computers that it didn't take me long to pick up photoshop.
It didn't take me long to work in the new software. And when the print thing came in, I was flying. It wasn't too long before I was sort of running with the big boys. So I think I was just sort of lucky in the fact that I got that first job. And that was my education, was learning from other people. So I'm a really big advocate of things like live streams, because you can learn by watching other designers work. And we don't live in a world these days where we get to sit next to other designers and everybody's working from home and working remotely to learn in the sort of best way that I feel is actually to learn from other people. The only way to do that is to watch live streams. And I'm a big I love live streaming. I do that with Adobe, and I'll go and do things like sketch to vector and working up concepts in Adobe Illustrator Live on camera, which know it's hugely.
So, however, I'm not throwing aside anything you're saying, but you're learning the technical skills, you're learning the platforms. You were saying you've learned all. So everything you've talked about technically was technical. What about a big part of design school, of course, is the history of the design principles. You even did a post once, I think you did a logo based on the perfect fabonacci ratios and such, right? That kind of stuff is usually what people so, again, technically, you learned everything, live streams and people physically using the tools. That's fine. What about the other side? Where did you pick that up? Because in all fairness, I razz you about it, but your logos are beautiful. They're fantastic. Where is that education coming from? Because that you're not necessarily watching it's after the fact.
It's totally after the fact, because my first sort of foray into design was layout. It was digital advertising, it was email newsletters. It wasn't like rocket science. And there was a formula to it, and it was kind of easy to kind of pick up and sort of run with it when it came to. The more abstract stuff I was learning via my other colleagues who were interested in it. And inside the sort office space, most of the places that I worked at were really big on knowledge sharing. So when we had a team of designers, like maybe four of us, every week, we would get together for half an hour and share something cool we found that week. And that was massively important. So it was kind of a bit of pressure as well. You had to come up with something every week that was sort of the coolest thing of the day.
And everyone was always trying to win with who showed the coolest thing today. But that's how I learned, was, like, learning from other designers and yeah, the things like the golden ratio and the principles behind design and color theory and all of that stuff, just from the hunger of the industry, just picking it up via online. And I learned in a world of YouTube tutorials and LinkedIn learning. And was it Linda.com? Linda.com is where I learned most of my stuff. I was lucky enough to get access to that as well. So it was like I had enough skill to know, okay, as a junior designer and then learn everything on the job and all of that, the principal stuff after the fact. And then I was like, wow, of course it works that way. I'll use that in my work going forward, and I just got better and better because of it.
Yeah. So that hunger you attribute a lot of your success, design wise, to that drive. That hunger of just curiosity is mad curious to keep improving. Improving, yeah, absolutely.
And it's also just like jealousy seeing other designers who do work that's better than yours. I'm like, fucking I need my game. That's half of it, honestly. Just trying to deconstruct other people's work.
And then try to figure out how they do it.
Yes, absolutely. Especially like when you see a logo design and you go, I fucking could have done that. How did they come up with that? And then you look into more about the processing and generating ideas and how to do that. I was lucky, actually. I got taught a few sort of I got to be part of a course in my job at magazines, and it was all about ideation how to be creative, and there's some amazing ideas in there just around sort of word mapping. And one really good one was like, if you're coming up against a problem, you're trying to be creative and come up with a solution to something, flip it and do the negative of that. So let's say you want to do I can't think of an example now, but you would take a concept, you don't have any ideas.
You basically start working on the negative of that concept. So if there's a meeting, that's going down a pretty dark path, and people are kind of shitting all over people's ideas. You can go, Right, well, fuck it. Well, this being negative for half an hour, and then you take all of those ideas that are rubbish and the opposite of what you're after, and then at the end of it, flip them back into the positive and see if any sort of new ideas come out of it. So that was quite cool. But again, that was lucky that I got that to be part of that course as part of my job. And again, I was also lucky that my job was big on training, so I got access to things like courses like that and LinkedIn Learning and Linda.com.
Yeah, so with this being said then, so you're cranking out these logos, you're cranking out logos for these customers because you're niching down into logos. What happens after the sale? Like after you hand that back? Do they come back, do they ask for more, do you offer more or is that it?
That's done. They're dead to me after that. The scorched earth approach. I love it. Give me my testimonial and get paid. See you later. No, like you said before, it's the upselling of services. And because I have a background of such a wide variety of things, I can offer the world, like, I can do you a website, I can do you a logo animation. Probably not as good as I actually outsource logo animation now because I am too slow at it. I can do it takes me too long. So I will outsource that. But everything else when it comes to building a brand month, I can do. So I use the logo as like the start point of the sale and then upsell services off the back of that. Okay, so if a new brand is starting and they need a new website, I can help them out with the background assets for the site.
I can help them out with patterns, implement the new style into their site for them. So for something like as simple as a squarespace site, I just basically set them up with a template and they can then go and run with it. And then all of the print bits and pieces. I can set them up with templates for their adverts or business cards or whatever they need to build their brand and create them. A sort of design system and a brand guidelines document on top of that, in order to kind of basically give them the best sort of starting point when it comes to their new logo.
So you're taking a logo project and you're blowing it up into a bigger deliverable package and such. You're not just delivering and again, I think we talked about that last week, I guess on the podcast, it's not just here's your logo, see you later, give me $100,000 type idea. Right? There is so much more rollout that people don't realize they hear these stories about BP paying $200 million for a new logo or for a JPEG, right? It's not really how it works, but there is the backside on this that people I don't think that they're trying hard enough for. They're just taking it for granted. They're kind of handing over that JPEG and saying, see you later, right?
Yeah, that's exactly what I used to do when I very first one of my first logo projects, I was like, here's your JPEG in an email.
I was like, yes.
Nailed it. I'm a graphic designer. And then realized quickly it's about the sort of the value that they feel like they're getting. Allows you to charge a bit more, but not just the logo files themselves, but everything it takes to actually build out this brand if you actually want to take it seriously. And in today's world, where you need a website and you need a social media presence, you needed a designer to help you with that. Otherwise it just looks like crap. And that's where I come in. So, yeah, like I say, the logo designer niching thing, it's almost like an SEO tool so that it's the sort of start point of that journey, and then I can build out from that and add more services on top of it. And some people like to call themselves, like, brand designers. I specifically don't do that because I find that calling myself a logo designer kind of cuts the bullshit and they know what they're getting at the start of the project.
And it's more of a sort of SEO friendly term. Like, if you meet someone at a party and you say, what do you do? And you say, I'm a brand strategist. Or they have no idea what you're talking about, and they say, oh, I design logos. All right, yeah, I'll get you. So I kind of treat that the same way with clients. It's the start of the process. I'm a logo designer. If you need more, I can help. But, yeah, let's just start there. And that's how it's worked. Yeah.
So sustainability wise, long term, though, like, you're one person and you are proudly one person, which is fantastic. It's like you're a freelancer and you own that. How limiting is that going to be, though, if all of a sudden they keep coming back a company and you want to stay away from the retainer work? Which is I can understand why in some points, but if they're coming back for more and more, when's the breaking point?
Yeah, it's a tough one, and it's probably because the success of the luggage design side of the freelance business is kind of relatively new. I am in a bit of an inflection point right now. Like, do I scale this up and go agency and hire on a team? Which I could, if I'm honest with you, I could do tomorrow. Just from the amount of leads that I'm getting through some of the leads I'm losing because my waitlist is too long. On the flip side, it's like I love this freelance life and I've given myself sort of like a lifestyle business now and it's quite comfortable and do I really need to scale this thing? I live a lovely life, I get to deal with clients directly. I do the work that I enjoy the most. I'm still working with the people that I want to work with and being really creative and toss up.
I'd love to earn more money. There's other ways though I can do that. And I feel like I'm like a few years behind James Martin, right? He's a pal of mine now. It's great being able to follow people like him because I can just watch what he's doing and just follow career path directly behind on his bootstraps. So it's interesting, I've sort of started the process. Like I mentioned, I hired an assistant and that was a big step for me on a sort of retainer basis. But it's been amazing having that resource and I'm kind of kicking myself like why did I not do this sooner? Doing things like exporting logos, generating brand guidelines documents, rolling out social media templates and cover photos and things like that's not a great use of my time. And I've been completely controlling that whole process and doing everything myself.
So when a logo project is ready to be delivered, it's another day or two before they can have it because I'm doing everything on my own now. I give that to my assistant who also is in another time zone. So when I leave at the end of the day and when I wake up the next morning, the job is done. This is even better. So I was kind of kicking myself that I didn't do that sooner. So yeah, like I say, it's like an inflection point right now. I could hire a few more people and just scale this thing up or do I kind of keep it comfortable and live the life that I'm living and enjoying right now?
Yeah, well, I mean, you're like the poster child for freelance right now, right? And I think a lot of people look to you for that kind of motivation that help because you're showing it can be done. Do you think it changes the authenticity if you go the other way?
Yes and no. Probably not. I'd say because there are freelancers out there who earn hundreds of thousands, if not millions and there are ways to do it. But it's just the nature of my business at the minute is that I either raise my rates in order to kind of be more successful that way and I found pricing is really kind of a weird one. It's like a constantly in motion thing depending on is there a recession going on, is there a cost of living crisis? It's always adjusting and I bring my rates up and bring them down and kind of depending on that. I found a bit of a sweet spot with it now. But, yeah, it's interesting because there are other routes that I could go down now that I'm in this sort of social media space that's kind of, like, diversify my income a little bit.
And it's slowly starting to happen with the education and the sort of the online training and the bits and pieces that I do on social media is basically just showing people how to do stuff in Illustrator so I could do that more formally and maybe get paid and do some digital products and that kind of thing. So, like I say, it's so new to me that this is like, do I actually put more focus on this right now and kind of scale up that way, or do I go the other route and focus on the actual business and the agency side of things and make more money that way? So, yeah, I'm completely undecided right now. It's really.
I mean, and James Martin has an interesting setup, right, because although he has like, a front where he almost looks and acts and his own personal brand almost makes him feel like a one man show, but then he's got Baby Giant, which is really the agency side, which it sounds like he's going to be growing a little bit as well. And how that's going? So he's kind of living the best of both right now.
Yeah. So there's Me, there's James Martin, and there's Chris Doe. Okay. And Chris Doe was like a former agency owner, and now he's removed all the client work and has gone completely into the education and public speaking space. There's James Martin, who literally this morning announced on his newsletter that he's doing the same thing. He's going into the education space, but Baby Giant will still run. Then there's me down the bottom. He's just like, can I teach you some stuff, too? And I'm not quite there yet. I'm enjoying the client work at the minute. I'm going to keep it ticking over.
Well, and you're so damn early at this. And this is where it's just mind blowing. Because, again, your success in the short amount of time is I mean, people work a lifetime to kind of get to this level where you do have really good quality. But even more than that, your presence is massive. Like, you are being asked to speak at places where people will people like Christo work 20 years just to get that clout. So do you ever kind of sit back and be like, how the hell this happened? Do you ever feel this impostor syndrome where you're like, I've just been at this for a little while and I'm right next to someone like Christo?
That was a huge moment for me being asked to speak there. And I'm not going to lie. I went out there and fucking requested it. I messaged a lot of people in order to try and get there. It was mainly just because I wanted to go on the free. I didn't have to pay my ticket to La to get there. And then it turns out I'm now a speaker and I'm not only speaking, but I'm like, straight after the keynote on day one, right in with a group of other people, know it's literally straight after that huge auditorium where everyone's really hyped up and like, let's go. They're going to come out into my talk and be like, the fuck is this? So, yes, there's an imposter syndrome. It's scary as hell. And I'm working on the talk right now. And this morning I actually caught up with the guys for the first time, the people that I'm sort of sharing that session with, and it's amazing.
They're such a great bunch. And I've done a lot of work with Adobe over the last year or so, and they're an amazing partner. They've got great sort of culture. Their staff is so much fun to work with, and they've got money to spend, if I'm honest. They really are putting fistfuls of cash behind products like Adobe Express and the new packages that are coming out and all of the AI stuff that's coming in. So they're just like the perfect partner. And being asked to speak at Max is just a dream come true. And, yeah, when I saw my picture go up and I'm next to Aaron Draplin and underneath Chris Doe, I was like, Fuck me, right? What have I done?
You've earned it, buddy. And I think that's the perfect place on where to end our first half of our interview with the one and only Mr. James Bernard, our friend from Down Under. Not really Down Under because he's actually from the UK and he's moved to Australia and maybe pretends to be know because it's cool, I don't know. But nonetheless, I love RASN. The guy about know. The reality is he's a fantastic guy. And there was a lot of really good things that we talked about this first half. But two things that actually stood out for me were number one, his path. His path was so different to becoming a graphic designer than a lot of other people's paths. Some people traditionally go to school and then after school, junior designer, into a regular designer, into senior designer, whatever he went to school for something completely different.
Entered the job market somehow, found his way in through hacking together a couple of WordPress themes and building intranets, and then just, again, just constantly works his way through to being what he is today, which is kind of a really popular celebrity designer. And he's actually a really good designer, too. The key here isn't exactly the journey he took, but it was passion led, like he said. He was so into it every single step and his learning came from his just curiosity, his passion, and the fact that he'd watch other people and be like, Shit, that's really good. Why can't I do that? So, number one, passion will take you everywhere in this space. It helped me, it's helped Sean, and it's obviously helped James. And number two, which I thought was really interesting, was the impact social media had on his career. Talking to James and seeing his journey and finding how SEO only took him so far, and then it dropped him on his ass, and the rest was up to him, how social media then catapulted him to that next level.
And I think social media is something that everybody does it a little differently, but I think we all generally probably undervalue the importance of it as designers. Most of us are just using it as portfolio pieces, which, yeah, that seems a really practical way of using it. But the way James is using it and some of the other people that we've had on the show, they're using it to promote themselves, not necessarily just the work that they're doing. And that seems to elevate their social media game. So stay tuned for the next episode, because we're going to be going into much more detail into the social side of his business, his life, some practical tips on what we can use to actually propel our social careers going forward as designers. And again, a whole bunch of great stories. I mean, there's some really fun surprises on this one that I can't wait for you to hear.
So please come back next week, listen to part two, and as always, please share us with anybody. Leave us a review, because those always help. Share us with people that you love and hate and say hi on the platforms. We're having so much fun. Replying to everybody on Instagram. And my name is Massimo, and I'm signing off on behalf of myself, Sean and James. Stay creative and stay angry. Peace. Why so violent? I don't get it. Why?