Spotlight on the team behind the new Copac website and design: graphic design, part 1

Copac Team Member Lisa Jeskins met up with Mimas’s new graphic designer, Ben Perry to talk about how he got started as a graphic designer and how he came up with the new Copac design.

We’ve split the interview into two blog posts, today we hear how Ben got started as a graphic designer.

LJ: So Ben, how did you become a graphic designer and how did you end up at Mimas?

BP: I started out studying Three Dimensional Design at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) and then did a year doing a Business Development course also at MMU. That’s where I started to develop my graphic design skills. After that I was placed for 2 years as Designer in Residence at Salford University, as part of the Design Initiative’s “Setting Up Scheme”, where I further developed my business and skills base.

I then went on to work for Sole Technology, an action sports footwear and clothing manufacturer. I spent a couple of years there producing the art work for their promotional leaflets, magazine adverts and brochures for the UK arm of the California-based company.  While I was working there I also started to get involved in promoting live music events in Manchester and through that I ended up doing a lot of graphic design work, not only to promote my own music events but more and more people started to come and asking me to design materials for them. So after a couple of years at Sole Technology, I decided to leave go freelance so that I could concentrate on graphic design and promoting events.

Slowly over course of last 3 years I’ve ended up tailing off on the events side of things because I was so in demand for my design skills, bringing bigger clients and more projects in to my freelance business. Also it didn’t fit with my family commitments either, I couldn’t really go out late every weekend any more when I had a small child. I’ve been doing solely graphic design for the last 2 years.

LJ: Would we have seen any of you work?

BP: Yeah, you would have done. I do a lot of graphic design for the Printworks, their promotional literature, in-house documents and all sorts of bits and pieces for them. Probably because of my background in music promotion, I do a lot work for the entertainment and night life sector. I met a lot of people when I was promoting events, so I also design a lot for clubs and music promoters, doing their promotional materials and websites. I also do all of the graphic design for a place called Sound Control in Manchester and have done some stuff for the Deaf Institute. All sorts of people, really – it’s quite broad ranging. I’ve worked with independent promoters, a paediatric dietician and have recently done some work for a company who have a mobile paella stand and import Spanish produce – I branded all their stuff for them.

LJ: Do you prefer designing print and promotional materials or websites? Which do you prefer – or do you prefer to do the whole ‘package’.

BP: I do prefer it when companies come to me and ask me to work on their whole brand. For example, I’m working with Levanter Fine Foods at the moment, the Spanish produce people I was talking about earlier. They came to me with this notion of what they wanted and I had to design their new logo. They wanted branding rolling out across everything – letterhead, compliments slips, business cards, flyers, catering stalls, labels for produce and we went the whole hog with everything. It was great because they were really confident in me, they trusted my judgement and my design skills so they knew I was going to deliver what they wanted. So I had free rein over everything and I was able to be really creative and do what I wanted which was really nice.

LJ: How did you build up your knowledge of art? From doing your degree?

BP: I’ve always thought of it as having a ‘visual vocabulary’, which is something that you gain over time – I don’t think it’s something you can learn. From a young age, art was the subject at school that I was most interested in, it’s the one I did best in. However I think that over the years you develop a sensibility and a notion of what looks good, and what feels nice, and for me I have sorts of inspirations. I’ve always been one for looking at my surrounding and being inspired by obscure things in everyday life, textures, colours that you see. There’s so much out there to inspire you. You also have to keep up with trends and new technologies for websites and graphic design and the look and feel of things that are current. One of the things with the Copac site was that you wanted it bringing up-to-date and you wanted it to feel current and modern.

You can hear how Ben achieved this, next week as he explains how he came up with the new Copac concept.

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