Made by James: A Conversation with James Martin Part 1


On this guest episode of The Angry Designer, we have a conversation with none other than the AMAZING James Martin.

One of our design heroes and the unfiltered, self-titled NonConformulator of Logos – we are very excited to welcome James to the podcast.

Graphic designer, educator, author and co-founder of @babygiantco, James has earned his status as one of the modern-day giants of the design industry.

With clients including music heavy-hitters The Chainsmokers, Michael Ray, and Carter McLean, and brands such as Bishop Slayer Oyster Stout and Plastic Freedom, Martin isn’t one to gate keep the secrets to his success.

Talking everything from life and work to inspiration, design process and beyond, you DON’T want to miss this one – it will leave you speechless!

Episode Transcript

You are listening to The Angry Designer will be cut through the industry both to how frustrated graphic designers survive and thrive. What's up? Angry designers Today we have a treat for you. Um, you guys ask for a couple more interviews and, and when we have interview guests, we want them to be big. We want them to have our personalities.

We want them to match our vibes like our type of listeners and our angry designers. So today all the way from the uk we have one of my favorite design heroes, fucking awesome logo designer, brand designer and, and one of the most funny personalities out there right now. I mean, we had somebody earlier even say, she's like, how is this person so funny and doing so well?

So it's a treat to have somebody like this on our show. Um, again, and I must say, might have. An equally good beard. I don't know. We may have to have a beard talk here. That's okay. But the [00:01:00] one one only. Mr. James Martin. Yeah, I was gonna say, you guys, you've also got your ears on me possibly. So I might catch up.

I don't know. I dropping it straight in there from the go. I also, I love how you are called, like the love how you are called the angry designers, but you're two of the kind of cutest, most cuddly people I know. Actually, to be fair, we started a lot more jaded, but we got rid of all that early on and yeah, you got rid of all, all that.

We've got nothing left to bitch about.

Cool. You know what? It's just kind of, it is, it is funny though cuz again it's, it's an easy way to get stuff off our chest. Yeah. Cuz it's like I can't hold back. And when we started this whole, when we started this journey, it was during Covid and there was a lot of anxiety and we were so angry about a lot of things.

And just by nature, I'm always talking like I'm angry, even though I'm not. Yeah, it just looks like it. Yeah. So, so it's just like, screw it. Let's just run with the angry. It's, it's passion, it's [00:02:00] what it's about. We love. So, yeah. So anyway, needless to say. Yeah. Um, okay. Let's get, let's get the gushing outta the way, dude.

You fucking rock. Yeah, I, I remember getting your book. Mm-hmm. Boom. Amazing. I remember getting it pre-ordered. Okay. We thought it was just like, no fricking way. Cuz I literally was just starting to follow you, I think three or four weeks before you dropped this about the book, which is amazing. And then it's just been follow, follow, follow ever since.

So, um, so this is, you know, feels like really cool. I, I think it's one of the coolest things about what we get to do. Yes. Is a of course help out graphic designers who are struggling, who go through times who, who need to be grounded a bit. But then number two, meeting like the design heroes like. This community is so different compared to what I started with, you know?

And what we started with. Cuz it used to be so closed and tight and nobody wanted to share, but wow. Right. Yeah, because I mean, you were such a gentleman, you were replied right away, you're like, let's do this. Yeah. That's the problem with email though, isn't it? You know, you're so accessible now, isn't it?

Um, I couldn't say no, obviously. Yeah. [00:03:00] No, but I think, you know, I mean, I'm, you know, I wouldn't let him. Yeah. I'm al you know, I'm 40, hitting 40 now. You know, I, I know you guys are probably little around that as well, and like we, we did grow up in a world without social media and I grew up in a world like you where.

Um, the people that you looked up to weren't accessible. They, they literally were almost untouchable in some degree. So, um, it's uh, obviously super humbling to hear you say that. Cause I think I'm just another douche bag from England. Do you know what I mean? So, um, it's, um, you know, it's all, you know, I work hard, you know what I mean?

Like it's not through lack of effort. Yeah. It's not through lack of, um, Trying, you know, I've often actually thought that I'm probably better at marketing than am at logo design. Just kinda happens that my logo design's quite good too, so it works out. So, um, well, and you branding, you obviously very good at branding your own brand.

So with that being said, without people being accessible, have you [00:04:00] ever had experiences where you've tried to reach out and just got smacked down for doing so? No. Well, to be fair, like, I mean, I used to reach out to a lot of people, like in the early days of inta. To Graham, you know, where suddenly you could drop into somebody's dms or you could, like, they had their email address like on mm-hmm.

You know, on show. But, you know, I've never, like, I mean, I'm not also gonna name ashamed somebody cause I'm, it's not, that's not what I'm here to do. I'm not as angry. No. Fair enough. Fair enough, fair enough. Uh, fair. No, I think, no. I think like there's, I mean, what I will say is that, Like when I started this journey, um, you know, like made by James is like almost, almost a decade in the making.

Um, you know, I often, you know, started at zero like everybody else. Never paid for any followers, never done anything. I've just put my shit out there consistently for a decade and it's now where it is. And I always said to myself, [00:05:00] When like if I ever get to a place of influence or a place where people want to hear from me, I'm going to try as hard as possible to never let them down.

So I try and reply to all my dms, all my comments. Quite difficult, you know? Very cool. When you get like maybe a thousand comments. Yes, absolutely. But I do try and I do try and engage with people. I don't see this as like a. You know, that's also what have a newsletter, you know, I'm trying to give, it's not just social media.

Yes. I try to give a load over there for free. Like my, my theory is, is like I just want to be accessible to everybody no matter how much money they've got. So if you got no money, come buy. I'll get, I'll give loads of shit away for free on Instagram. I'll give loads of shit away on, on my newsletter. So I've created three courses, newsletter, rocks.

You can have you what I mean. But if you wanna invest a little bit, you could have my book. You could buy a course, she can do some coaching. So I think for me, that was something I always tried to do was be [00:06:00] accessible no matter where you are in the world or like your background or anything. So I try and give as I try and give as much as I can.

And, but like, yeah, we all bitch about social media, but I wouldn't be here talking to you without it. Do you know what I mean? So it is, it's a powerful tool. Absolutely. The problem is there's just some wankers on it that's, that's the problem. Well, and, and to that point exactly. Um, do you think it was, it was because there are so many people that do what we do, they don't reply.

They're rude. I even heard of somebody halfway through a podcast was like, you know what, I'm done. This is, this is not my vibe. And just laughed. And it was just, and not to us, thank God. Otherwise I would be blasting that one. But I mean, it's just rude. So do you think it has something to do with, um, you know, your past, who you know the struggles your life?

From a kid to now or, or whatever. That's actually made you as humble as you are in this whole giving back. You feel like, you know, you want to give back? Um, that's a good question. I didn't [00:07:00] realize this was gonna be a counseling session, but I like it. We're gonna go there. Um, oh man. You have no idea. Yeah.

See that? You got the coat here. Yeah, exactly. I love it. I'm gonna be lying down on that sweating later. Um, no, I think, I think it's, I mean, a lot of it is, I don't, you know, I, I've always got this, um, kind of mindset of I'm never finished personally. Um, so I personally know that although some people might look up to me, I'm looking up to other people.

So I'm, I'm on my own journey or my own path. Cool. Um, and I know how difficult that path has been. Um, not just like creatively or within business, but you know, personally, we all. Go through certain things, you know, and have the past. Um, and I think that's what, you know, social media has allowed us to forget a little bit, you know?

Cause every, it's the highlight reel and everybody shows the very [00:08:00] best stuff. Um, they're the best of them. Yeah. And this is why, this is how much money I make now. These are the clients that work with now. Mm-hmm. You know, I've always charged 10,000 now. Mm-hmm. Do you, I mean, but they don't like to tell people the story of like, When they had to do work for free or they had a client failure or they just, you know, I don't know.

I mean, I think that's the problem is the facades. It's the lens that kind of gets put on it. So, um, for me, again, like I think just wanting to be different and wanting to be a little bit of a rebel. Yeah. I thought, you know what, I'm gonna be an open book and I'm gonna. Share my life, share my story, share the good times, the bad times, the really, really fucking difficult times.

Um, because I know that will resonate with people more than if I talk to them about this great project that I'm on all the time or how much money I make. And that's not really, you know, I, you know, [00:09:00] I've had this t-shirt for about 15 years. You know what I mean? I don't, I'm not particularly like, you know, you know, I, I spend a lot of money on art, but I don't like roll around in nice cars or I spend, you know, yeah, I try and do some nice things for myself, but I also try and give back a lot as well.

So it's like, for me it's kind of, and I think it's more maybe up my upbringing, my character. I've always, you know, as a sportsman, I was captain of all my sports teams. So there might be a like kind of a leader element there where I've now taken that kind of role within my industry. I wanna be, I wanna leave a positive impact.

I want people to have somebody that they feel. That they can follow that isn't gonna bullshit them left, right, and center that isn't gonna right. Try and tell them it's all gonna be all right all the time. You know, I think a little bit of honesty is kind of what I try and bring. It's not through, [00:10:00] it's not angry or forced.

Um, it's just like we all know. I think deep down that. You know, life is shit sometimes, but it's also fucking great sometimes. And you know, we've got to, yeah, absolutely. Ying and yang. You know, you, cause you can't celebrate wins without having the losses. So I think it's important to share or, look, I'm not sitting here telling.

Everybody who's listening here to go and open their Pandora's box of darkest secrets, um, of like how they killed somebody's pet once. Do you know what I mean? But, you know, I think, you know, I think it's just important. Like, I'd often thought, do you know what I mean? It was kind of like gonna stop me from, like, I, I always thought like, if I'm gonna be this person, I need to be me all in, because that's much easier than trying to be somebody that I'm not.

And I kind of, at the beginning it was slightly tough cause I was like, is this gonna affect my job opportunities? You know, [00:11:00] like I grew up as like if you've got tattoos on show, you're never gonna get a job. Mm-hmm. If you got this, you blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. So I think this generational thing that people of our rage kind of suffer with a little bit of like, you never make any money out creativity.

Do you know what I mean? Yeah. A proper job that's a hobby for the weekend. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Now they're laughing, aren't they? Yes. So, um, You know, so I think, yeah, I think it's really important. I've always just tried to lean into who I am. Um, I kind of got lost on a tangent there talking about something else.

Uh, no, no, no. You know what, that was awesome. It's the cool part about this is, okay, so I mean, again, I, I remember in your book it sounds like as a youth, so often people in our industry, you know, they've always been creative in one sense or another, and, and, and it seems to either be that type of personality.

Or they're rebellious as kids. They're, they're hooligans. They're troublemakers. Right. And this, this space is perfect for both. Yeah. Because it allows people to express their creativity while still being a rebel. [00:12:00] Mm. Yeah. So let's, let's talk, let's go back even before, because I love the fact that you're even, you were expelled as a kid from school, were you not?

I, I was. I was a little shit. I was Wow. So, yeah. I'll, so I'll, I'll, I'll, I'll talk to you. Like I'll go Right, I'll, I'll tell you the whole story cause it makes more sense when it put into come more cl. Sure, sure, sure. Um, of course. So as, um, I was very lucky growing up, you know, Great opportunities, boarding school, all the rest of it.

Um, but at the age of 11, unfortunately I was sexually abused by my maths teacher. Um, oh. And that, oh, that kind of flipped like a, a big trust issue in my head, you know? So like, he abused the trust of me. Yes. He abused the trust of my parents. He abused the trust of school. Absolutely. School. So I didn't tell anybody for about seven or eight years up until the age of about 1920.

Uh, so I lived with that going through adolescence, [00:13:00] teenage years. Yes. Um, wasn't my fault. What did I do? You try and black it out, you put it in a little box, chuck it down here so when you just get on Yeah, yeah. Things and try and forget about it. So what happened was, is when I, you know, being quite, uh, um, No, I wouldn't say a hot head, but I've always been very, um, strong-willed, let's call it.

So, but that strong will is found, yes, possibly the wrong crew. Uh, drugs, alcohol, and all the rest of it. From about the age of 14, I would say I'm starting to do drugs quite a lot. Um, and that, that escalated in. To many things like harder drugs. Um, and then all the way, what I would do, I would start stealing from people to fuel my drug habits.

So I would go around nicking laptops and phones and take them to the local dealer and exchange them for [00:14:00] drugs and all that kind of stuff. Um, so that is what got got, kicked me out of school that got me expelled because I got caught, uh, with a group of friends, dude. Yeah. Um, and then, That subsequently got me kicked out home at 17.

So yeah, this was about 17, about six weeks before like a levels, so like that's the kind of thing that you need to get onto university or whatever over here. So, um, yeah, kicked out, left home at 17. Um, fucked around for two years. Did even more drugs, basically went to work, made some money. Stent on drugs.

Rinse, repeat for about two years, um, until basically I woke up one day after, well, I'll say wake up after a massive benzoyl. We did go to sleep. Yeah. Basically what we do is we go out, I remember it was a Saturday, uh, Drummond bass, Enzos, uh, took loads of pills, nice ecstasy, [00:15:00] um, all night. Then what we would do afterwards, we'd drive there like take loads of shit in the car.

Take loads of pills, go in, basically dance for six, seven hours nonstop. Come back. Obviously you can't drive though, John the beans. So what we'd do is we'd walk down the road Yeah, jump the fence and go and like light fires in the, like the local woods on private land, which is also not allowed. Oh my god.

So, but then once, so right all the way until the light came up. So, So with the kind of club we finish around two or three, we probably about 6 30, 7 o'clock. Walk back up to the car, get back in the car, obviously fine by then, you know those four hours have helped. Yeah. Tremendously then haven't they? Not at exhaust.

Um, so, um, got home, got back in the car, drove back, and I remember lying on my bed that day and I fall I for work and like. I dunno, I must have got back in at about seven or eight o'clock [00:16:00] and I had work at 12 that day. And I was thinking now in like four days, four hours I, God work, I've got like the whole, I got a shift from 12 till 12 or something and I was like, what am I doing right with my life?

Um mm-hmm. And then the next day I went and enrolled at college to do an art foundation. Uh, and I think that's why foundation, like I thought this, like when I kind of introduced myself to like, Talks or podcasts or whatever, it's always about like my mission being to give back to the industry that saved my life.

Because I truly believe without this industry, I don't, I mean, I can't predict what would've happened, but I would possibly be dead. But you were on that path. Possibly be or be in jail or be an absolute fucking waster. So, or save me. Yeah. Yeah. So why, why art foundations, fundamentals versus, I don't know, fucking [00:17:00] accounting or health or anything else?

Why, what was it about that, that dread, it just seems like, you know, coming from that world that you came from, that seems almost, um, soft Yeah. To get into that. Well, yeah. Art for me was always, I was never particularly intelligent. Like classically intelligent maths, English jar. Okay. Yes. It was never, yeah, right.

Like my A levels that I was doing before I got kicked out were pe, which like physical education, but sports stuff, design and art. So those are the three things that I was trying to do. Okay. Uh, which is why the school hated me because I was never gonna become anything. I can't become anything doing those briefing.

So, um, but yeah, basically, um, art, like when I was doing art as a kid, um, like it always felt like even at, even though I wasn't the best, it always felt like it was a space and a classroom that I felt like I could belong in. You [00:18:00] know, you were never judged on being right or wrong because it was, you weren't, it was art.

Absolutely. So it was like there was no right answers. So. Whether it was good or bad in the tutor's eyes or your peer's eyes, that didn't really matter and it kind of made it feel very inclusive, very safe. So for me, yeah, like I had to go at that point to something that I knew, something I felt was safe, uh, something I trusted, you know?

And at that time, art was the only thing. That I had, you know, I had no quantifications, um, to get into any sort of higher education. I needed to start right at the bottom again cause I can't go back like four or five years and be 17 or 18 again and do my A levels again that way. So I had to go and do, like, go through like a different route.

So it was an art foundation. Um, then it was graphic design, [00:19:00] diploma like h n D, and then I, that got me dead onto a two year, um, design, like, um, communication design, uh, degree, um, you know, at university. And I learned fuck all there, to be fair. Um, but for me, and I didn't even know I wanted to be a designer at that stage, but for me it was distraction, right?

It was like, okay, I'll finish this. What's next? Okay, I've finished this. What's next? I finished like even up until, like, even when I started Baby Giant, like 12 years ago, like I would've been like a good five years into my career. I still didn't really know if design was what I wanted to do, but. I was in it and I was just like, I'm just gonna keep trying, you know?

And it was really fucking tough, you know, for a long, long time. But, you know, I think, you know, I, the reason why I chose art, to go back to your question, is that it felt safe. It was the obvious choice for me. Yeah. At that point, um, somewhere that [00:20:00] I wasn't gonna be judged too much, and it was more. It wasn't really even the subject, it was more like I need to have some sort of structure that stops me from fucking up my life at the moment.

So, and now we're in Fair enough. Join me. Wow. Yeah. No, no, no. And I mean, there is something beautiful about, about that exact, because I mean, I remember in high school I was, I was one of the fortunate ones who always knew what I wanted to do at a young age, but I ran, I went to a tougher school and I hung out Generally with, with, with the more.

Badass type people because they were just more fun than the good kids. You know? I wasn't necessarily doing the shit that they were doing, but it was fun watching them do it. I was living vicariously through them. Love that. And it wasn't until my last year of school that I actually, um, I came out and was like, Hey guys.

I'm into art and I've been doing art for the past four years, so some people hold onto these other things they're coming out about, and I was coming out about being like, dudes, I'm an [00:21:00] artist and, and this is my stuff because otherwise I was going to be judged and have my ass kicked. Yeah. And so, but it felt like it was, it was so liberating at that point.

Yeah, because again, it was, it was, it was a safe place. Everybody was quirky. Everybody was very individual. Nobody was judgy. Even though in that class, I stood out because again, they were like, why is that guy here? Right? He hangs out with those people. He dresses like that, like, I mean, I was completely the opposite of, of all the ones that did stand out, but it was so, I was still accepted.

It was cool. Yeah, it was, uh, it is, it's, it's a beautiful. Thing. It's a wonderful space to be in. It is. Right. It's very accepting, you know, and we, we can talk like this with, uh, other designers and we all feel that, you know, it's like I'm a musician as well, and there's that kind of same vibe that goes across both of these things, you know?

Yeah. You see a graphic designer, it's almost like you're leaning out the window. Right. Hey man, you know what I mean? You get a nod, prove. Well, we quite get easy to spoke nowadays, especially like it's like thought. Most, most, most, [00:22:00] most, most beard, most white male glasses. I've got beards. Um, which is why I've, which is why I've tried to, um, to, to change it up without a hat right now.

But, um, you know, yeah, I think it's, you know, I think it's, Yeah, it is. Um, it is a funny, you got the shogun thing going on, right? Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Um, something a bit different. Uh, but yeah, I think, I think you're right. I think, and this is, I think this is what I think maybe spurs like, the reason I do the things that I do now was from my experience of that safe, like how.

Like everybody would generally help you, you know, how everybody would offer you advice. Yeah. Um, yeah, as, as a tutor to teacher, to student, obviously in the kind of art world, it was, if I say it felt safe, it felt nurturing. I think that is something that I think went missing for quite a long time, and I think it does naturally go missing when you are starting your design [00:23:00] career because, Like I, I was like, you where I started at the bottom, you know, like people now in the design world mm-hmm.

They finish uni and they want to be at the top within a year, you know, with no, no knowledge, no experience. They just want to grow an audience. Mm-hmm. Santa course, make millions live on an island, do freelance, you know, all that dreamy stuff that you hear about on social media. But, you know, whereas with my eye, I had to start at the bottom and you, I did.

Everything, like loads of, I made tea most of the time and then, but like, it was very difficult to, cuz when you're working within an agency or working in that space, we didn't have access to social media or anything like that, that time. So the only people that you could learn from were the people who were above you within the kind of agency structure.

But they, they're not there to babysit, do you know what I mean? They're there to obviously help you on a project and stuff like that, but they're not gonna sit there. And give you free advice [00:24:00] all day, every day so you can learn. So true. Um, so you have to kind of go through a process of like learning yourself, trying to figure it out.

And then what happens is, Once you figure stuff out, you hold onto it because you know how difficult it was to learn and so you don't share that with the people below you. It's true. Um, and that kind of, yeah, my mindset kind of changed with that as I kind of started to grow made by James. It's like, well, why not just give it all away and see what happens, you know?

And that's gone and help everybody gone even further than that. Yeah. So, Absolutely. Absolutely. So, okay, so then what were you enrolled in School. Okay. So then what happened between when you enrolled in art or when you graduated Art until when you started Baby Giant, which is what, like 2004, 2005? Yeah, so that was 12 years ago, which would've been 2010.

Um, ish. I think so, yeah. What we, what date we now? Two [00:25:00] 10 2011. So, yeah, 2023 now, isn't it? I it fucking it. Um, so yeah. Um, so yeah, I mean, like, so Wait, what? Yeah. Yeah. Terribly lost then. That's that bloody covid shit, you know what I mean? Um, yeah. No shit. Right? Yeah. So, yeah, so I kind of went, so Juanna was at.

University I was, um, like getting, trying to get money to pay rent. I was batting over my parents all the rest of it. So, um, you know, I was working at a local cafe, you know, making teas and coffees, you know. Yeah. Trying to figure out my next big move. But at that, at that time, it was just purely just, I think I was just quite enjoying the nothingness.

No, I'm not saying like, I want to tell you right now, like, At that point, when I woke up that one morning, I didn't stop doing drugs. I just started to have a lot more focus. You know, I've only, I've been sober now for like two years now, [00:26:00] so like clean of absolutely everything. So no alcohol, no drugs. I'm trying to kick sugar right now, which is kicking me in the butts.

I love sweets. Oh God. But ultimately at the moment, like, uh, so go, that's the question. So I just wanted to make sure that everybody didn't think, oh, he just suddenly stopped drugs and chased his life. There. There was a, there's a natural progression to these things. Right? You what I mean? So, um, So, absolutely.

Yeah. When I was at the cafe, obviously I was just trying to make money to pay rent and all the rest of it. One, one of the guys who would come in quite a lot, his friend just started a design agency. It wasn't really a design agency. It was more of a, yeah, a creative studio that was building like mobile apps and stuff like that at the time.

And they were doing a few. Bits and pieces for like making games for like go Coca-Cola and all this kind of stuff. Cool. It was always quite cool, but obviously for me it was like making tea or going there, but ba ultimately, like what the guy did, he said, well would you like to try and [00:27:00] I can give them your details and me get you an interview.

Cause he obviously knew that I would, I would talk to, every time he would come in and I would talk about design. So he said, I'll try and get you an interview and. I walked in there, you know, obviously once I had my interview with my little, a free ring bound portfolio, you know, we used to walk around with full of just drawings and there was no design in there.

It was purely just illustration stuff. Um, and luckily they kind of said, you know, we see something in you. We'll, we'll give you a go. And it was like, at that time it was like, Cool. Two days a week I think. So I was still working at the cafe and did my two days a week there. And then that grew over the years into a full-time role.

And then, yeah, I was there for about four years. Um, and then, Baby Giant happened. Really? And that was more of a, you know, I was looking for other jobs at the time, um, going for other job interviews, [00:28:00] um, like going for like jobs that I should So it started as your freelance gig? Yeah, it was. No, no, it was more like Baby Giant started.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. So Baby Giant was basically like, it was this kind of idea of like, I was, I think 27 ish at the time, 27, 28. Um, Wasn't married, didn't have kids, didn't have a lot of overheads, and I was like, if I'm gonna start my own company, Now's the time. Cause I'm, if I'm in five years time, yeah. I could be married.

I did have kids and it's gonna be a very different ball game. So we kind of, me and my buddy aie, who also works in the same place kind of, we had a chat. He does like all the web based development stuff. I do all the creative stuff, so, The partnership there works quite well. Um, he's very quiet. I'm very loud, so that works as well.

Um, so, um, so I think like it was all like, it was one of those decisions like, [00:29:00] why don't we try this now? Because I know he, I knew he was looking for jobs as well. I was like, do we do this now? Uh, and give it a go, give it a couple of years and see what happens. And, and that's what we did. And now we are still here.

Growing every single year. Um, 12 years later, almost now since we incorporated. So cool. So Baby Giant still very much exists. Baby Giant is still a beast. Baby Giant does all the brand identity. Baby Giant did it. Yeah, baby. I, I even missed that, my own Jack there. Um, um, but yes, a baby just so obviously like made by James is the vessel.

So like, for example, what I mean by that is like, A lot of people find me and want to work with me. I say, that's great, you know, but it all happens underneath Baby Giant, like Made by James is more design of facing. You know, [00:30:00] courses, books, mm. Coaching stuff, whereas Baby Giant is client facing. Um, and they both got it work in tandem together.

Do you know what I mean? So, made by James allows me to very cool. Explore my new, my ever evolving mission of giving back to designers. I'm trying to give as much as I can, create stuff for them, both paid and free to help them. Learn from the mistakes that I have and all the rest of it. Whereas like still Baby Giant is thriving.

We've got animators, we've got like in house, we've got George, who's an animator. We've got 80 still. Who's the web designer? We've got studio manager, Lauren, my wife. Works of us as well. So, um, it's kind of like a family based unit. Um, still quite small. Yeah. Nice. I still do all the creative work. Mm-hmm. I handle all the brand identity, brand identity systems.

George does all the animation, 80 does all the wear. Um, [00:31:00] um, we've been offered, you know, the opportunity to grow and expand and have multiple baby giant applications. No, I've just said fuck off, mate. No, not for me. Um, John, I didn't, I didn't really get into it for, to be an art director as such, you know, you And it's not, not, not at the moment.

Yeah. Anyway. Do you know what I mean? Like I. Like I have a queue of like eight to 10 weeks for like brand identity work and people are willing to wait. So, and that's one of the stipulations, like, beautiful, I would love to work with you, but as obviously you've got the budget and you don't need it tomorrow, we can probably figure something out.

But you know, I didn't work. Very cool. Works is hard to stop working. Do you know what I mean? This I am living, yeah. Yeah. My dream right now, I, I'll tell you like right now, I could stop doing logo design. I could just do my courses and live happily ever after. I make a shit ton of money doing that. Nice.

But it's not for [00:32:00] me. Like if I'm gonna be teaching people, like I need to be experiencing the things that they're going through through, you need be doing it every single day. You know? I cannot actively, I don't think, I think I'm gonna be a better educator if I'm going through the things that designers are going through.

Obviously I'm doing a lot less work. Yeah. To allow me to have that kind of, it's not even balance, it's kind of counterbalance like why work made by James work, work made by James work. Um, so, um, you know, it does kind of go that way. But yeah, for me it's like I always like, I've got so much to offer. The, the design world, I feel, um, and I know I've also got a lot to offer young designers or up and coming designers or people who want to learn design.

So I'm just trying to find a balance right now of how to do that. It's not easy. Um, and I do work 14 hour days every day, apart from Saturday and [00:33:00] Sunday, but it's very good. It's for the bigger mission. Which is bigger than me, obviously. Yeah, it's rewarding, isn't it? Yeah. Yeah. I in five, I'll get in at eight feels, so I'll get in at eight in the morning and I'll finish at 10 and I'll be like, you know, go to bed then.

You know what I mean? It's quite, I do kind of have a gap. I do have like breaks in between. I've got a full, like a five month old baby you gotta go and chill out with. I work from my home, so, oh, it's easy to go in for lunch. Very cool. And spend like, yeah. 10, 15 minutes playing with him every now and again, but, you know, my days are long, but they don't feel long because I, I truly, truly love it, you know, so it's all good.

Yeah. I know. It is. It is. It makes a difference when you love what you do. Yes. Mm-hmm. Because if you love what you do, you're never actually feel like you're working. Yeah. True. And that's where it's like these days are just fueled by passion. Mm-hmm. They're not fueled by having to pay the bills and mm-hmm.

And this and that. Now granted it takes a little while to get to that point. Yeah. Um, you know, which kind of, well it kind of goes back to, you know, I guess my next question is how [00:34:00] much. Obviously you guys rock at logo at brand work. The animations are fantastic. Do you take on brochures, do you take on marketing campaigns or how far do you guys, um, stretch out your offerings?

Yeah, I mean, so I mean, this is quite interesting question because when, I mean there's a lot of chitchat around niching and niching and niching. Mm-hmm. Niching within a niche and niching niche, niching. Um, and two and to a Absolutely. Yeah. And to an extent. I, I, I believe I am where I am through finding my niche, which is, I mean, I was a graphic designer for a very, very long time, but then, you know, yep.

Seven or eight years ago with a birth of made by j I don't exactly know exactly how long it was, but how long made by James has been going, um, But that, that's when I started talking about logo design and that's kind of evolved into more brand identity, brand identity systems. Um, so like for me, [00:35:00] my conversation is always based on logo, idea creation, in and around logo design and trying to help people there.

That's what all of my conversations are about, but I. Do shit loads. Know what I mean? So like the other day I was, you know, I was designing book covers, you know, cause for me, like brand and brand identity I suppose, or brand identity is everything that, the things that I create touch, you know, like tangibly or visually.

Yes. So that could be website design. That could be. Um, presentation decks. That could be animation, that could be, um, you know, e-learning materials. That could be books, that can be, uh, brand identity system. So like, and this is where, you know, money doesn't happen at just a logo. You know, money happens when you're working with a client to build out Correct.

A whole campaign or system. So although, [00:36:00] oh, yes. Although I am absolutely right, although I am. Um, like very actively talking about the thing that I love to do, which is brand identity, logo design. Mm-hmm. With a heavy focus on logo design, I'll admit. Um, what that does, it brings my client in and then I prove my value through telling them I've shown them all the other work we've done for all these other people and that.

You know, so they'll come in for brand identity, but they'll leave with 12 month marketing campaigns, websites, and all the rest of it. So, exactly that's, yeah. So I mean, does like even, I was having this conversation with somebody the other day, and it's like, does even the person who is niched within a niche, actually niche.

Which is a weird que bear with me, bear with me. Um, how's zen? Yeah, but you know, in, in the essence of like, you know, even as a logo designer [00:37:00] or brand identity designer, I still create content. I still market myself. I still like build other bits and pieces. I still do advertising. I still have to manage my office studio.

I still have to do, but there's like, on any given day, there are five different tasks outside. Physically creating a logo, John? I mean, I think even if you are a niche with it, an niche with it. A niche, absolutely. There's still things you, you still have to create content. Yeah. You still have to execute, you still have to advertise, you still have to market.

So I don't think anybody necessarily is actually niched as much as they think they are. That's what we kind of came to complain. There is a lot of misconception out there, right? Yeah. About niche. I mean, you hear some of the other, um, designer celebrities and they'll, they'll boast about, oh, well, I, I create 200, or I charge $250,000 for a logo.

Or you hear the stories how, you know, Martha Shoe is a million dollars for the logo, but like you said, Exactly right. The logo will only take you so [00:38:00] far. It's that implementation and execution thereafter that we're constantly reminding people. The logo is the start of that relationship and it's, it's, it's the, the nurturing of the relationship and honing it and helping, you know, direct in the future.

That's where the real value comes for the client. Yeah. You know, cuz ultimately you can give them the logo. It doesn't mean they're gonna know what to do with it. Right? Yeah. It's exactly that. And I think that's, I think you'll spot on with I, I, yeah. I think a logo is only as powerful as the system that's created for it to work.

You know what I mean, in that essence. So, you know, it's the kind of idea that Absolutely. You know, like you say, if I gave my client a. Rectifying of just the logo, what are they gonna do with it? How does it work on social media? How does it work on their website? How does it, how do they build it into their presentation text?

How do they use it on their billboards? You know, this is like you say, this kind of. And I've seen, you know, it, it's, it's funny because you have to stop yourself from constantly being that twat who's always [00:39:00] correcting people. But you know, you know, when you kind of, when you hear these like, well, the BP logo was 250,000 or 200, 10,000, whatever it was, it's like, no, it fuck, it wasn't, yeah, idiots.

It wasn't, it was always, it wasn, it wasn't, it was for a thing that they built out around everything. Um, and I think this is, I think this is, I as much as you say it's not, I don't think it's, um, I think it's this conception that, you know, it's not that everybody wants to be, um, an expert, but I think, I think it's very clear when people do talk that they're not sometimes, or they've read it somewhere or they've heard it somewhere, then they share it.

As themselves and all the rest of it. Um, you know, I think it's really important cuz there's the people that do understand the system and how that works. I mean, everybody, I would say, who has any knowledge of [00:40:00] design, when they hear a logo for 210,000, they're kind of giggling to themselves going, come on.

You can't really think it was just that it was given to them. Come on, how can you actually think that? But some people do. You what I mean, and I think this is, I know, I think this is the shit up. Yeah. This is the slight problem with, with the social media bubble is that is the Chinese whispers kind of nature of it.

How somebody can say something, then it kind of goes down the line and suddenly it's fact or fiction, you know? And it's got all, all facts. So true. You know? And I think, I think, I think this is a, a bit of a problem cause there's people who are Ed educating people on design. Who've only been in design for a couple of years, or some of them even six months, and they're sharing, educated, or.

Educational. There you go. That's a bad word. Yeah. Educational content. Yes. There you go. Yeah. Educational content. Kinda like, I kinda that word I prefer. [00:41:00] Yeah. It's much easier to say. Yeah. You know, sometimes, sometimes the English language just doesn't have a word to encompass. Yeah. What we want to say. You make it out.

I've done it. Exactly. Yeah. Uh, but I think that's the one of the biggest problems. It is very tough. For people to know what's right and what's wrong and who to follow, because this is what numbers do. So if somebody, I know people with, yeah, hundreds of thousands of followers who don't have a fucking clue what they're talking about, I know people who aren't even on social media, who have thriving design agencies working for the best brands on the planet.

You what I mean? But the problem is somebody goes, you've got 10,000, you've got 20,000, you've got 30,000. You must know what you are talking about, which is the problem, because a lot of these people don't know. Yeah, absolutely. So yeah, that's my, yeah, right. I'll finish there. That's what I'll do. And I think that this is the perfect place to end this first episode, part one of two of our conversation with [00:42:00] James Martin.

So this conversation was just kind of mind blowing. I mean, I know we go deep, but I never thought we'd actually talk so deep about situations that are life changing for people. And I mean, usually when we talk about life changing things, it's, it's business and, and, and it's like how it's affected your life.

But we went through some pretty deep shit this week, and I, I, I, I, Commend and, and thank James for even opening up to us about something like this. And, um, you know, I, I think that's what makes him that much more real in, in my eyes, in Shawn's eyes, I'm sure in a lot of your eyes. So please come back next week for part two where we guarantee that we're gonna have a lot more laughs, a lot more deep stuff, a lot more shop.

Talk about, you know, James Martin, what he's done, what he's gone through, and how he currently goes through stuff. And of course, we're gonna throw in a couple little fun tidbits here and there, like we always do. So please by all means, share us like us, review us, do as you wish. All right, but just come back and listen to part two next week.

My name's Massimo, signing off on behalf of [00:43:00] Shawn James, and I guess that's it. Stay creative and stay angry.

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