Spotlight on the team behind the new Copac website and design: graphic design, part 2

Last week we heard about how Ben Perry, our new graphic designer got started, but this week Ben explains how he came up with the new Copac design.

Archer Font
Image from:

LJ: So how long have you been working for Mimas?

BP: Well it was the start of the year so coming up on 4 months now.

LJ: How is working at a university or in the academic sector different from the commercial world?

BP: When I work for myself as a freelancer, it’s just me in my studio, I have lots of projects on the go, 5 or 6 things bubbling up at any one time and I’m working on different bits of pieces, emailing clients constantly and it’s very hectic and fast paced, I have to try and keep everyone happy and deliver artwork on time for everyone’s deadlines. Whereas at Mimas, it’s much more relaxed and there’s a slower pace to everything. I think mainly because I’m working within a larger team, so it feels like the pressure is slightly off, which is really nice for me because it gives me more time to try and innovate and be creative with what I’m doing and have a bit more attention to detail so we can deliver something that’s absolutely amazing.

Oh… and there’s lots of meetings.

LJ: How do you develop your ideas normally?

BP: I try to gather together all of the elements that make up the project. I’m a strong believer in trying to get people to give me examples of things that they love and things that they hate. If they’ve seen something they love, I can look at it and understand why they love it and likewise if they hate something – I can work out why they don’t like it. I can then boil it down to the underlying ideas of what clients want. I’ve also got lots of books and magazines at home and I like to flip through to get an idea for something.

LJ: How does the process work for you? Do you have an idea pretty quickly?

BP: Normally things just jump out at you, it may be a colour palette that you start working with. Once I’ve synthesised the project brief, I like to get things on the computer. I find working directly in Adobe Illustrator makes it really easy and quick to sketch out ideas rather than actually using a pen and paper.  I can mock up ideas and change things so quickly on the computer, I find my laptop has become my sketchbook. I do have real sketchbooks too because sometimes there’s a need to hand draw something before translating it to screen. But using Illustrator means that get a rough idea of how you want things to look like, which allows you to visualise things so much quicker. And that’s my starting point. I normally try to go a bit wild, create loads of ideas and then stand back from it and take a look at what’s working and what isn’t.

LJ: So how did you start with Copac?

BP: The logo was the initial starting point for the Copac work. Trying to get the typography right, we looked through all the feedback sheets that the Copac team supplied me with and typography was one thing that users picked up on a lot. It needed tightening up and more relevance bringing to it. That’s where the idea for the logo has stemmed from. I always try and tie some relevance into the name or what service is being provided use that to feed into my ideas. Copac’s about searching for books and libraries and is an academic service but it needs to be modern too. So I starting looking at fonts that had that traditional feel to them, yet were modern at the same time. This is when I came up with the idea of using Archer. Archer was commissioned for use on Martha Stewart’s Living magazine, which I felt had the sort of feeling we were looking for. The magazine was about quite traditional topics but with a modern slant.

The website framework was pretty much laid out, so it just a case of tightening things up and bringing a sense of ‘real world-ness’ to the website. It felt flat, lacked depth and the colours were a bit cold. I wanted to give it a bit of texture; a bit of life, make it more three dimensional. I wanted something that was engaging and lifted itself of the screen, so many websites are flat and things in real life have shadows and textures and rich colours and I wanted to bring some of that into the design.

LJ: So did you come up with the concept quite quickly?

BP: I definitely got the idea quite quickly. I liaised with Leigh, the Mimas Web Designer, and luckily he was on the same page as me as to what he wanted to see. I started drafting my ideas and when I sent out my first drafts everyone came back with really positive feedback so thankfully we hit the nail on the head first go.

LJ: Is that usual?

BP: It depends on the client and what they want and whether they trust you to do the job properly. What been really great at Mimas is the sense of trust that I’m given. People are confident in my capabilities and let me get on with it.

You’ll be able to see Ben’s new design for Copac from 1st May. Watch this space.

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