Matt Davies (Creative Director) interview


Matt Davies, our Creative Director and the founder of Attitude Design, has recently been interviewed by Junk Extreme - a web resource and tutorial website which aims to provide quality content around web-design related topics. A copy of this interview is displayed below or you can read it on Junk Extreme here »

How did you first get into design and how old where you when you first realised that you had an interest?

I have known I wanted to get into the creative industries ever since I can remember. I was always blessed with a natural drawing talent and growing up I was a keen painter. My father used to tell me that "an artist only ever makes any money from their art when they're dead"! This led to the searching out of an industry where I could be creative and make money - the practical application of graphics had a massive appeal and so I want to college to study this.

From there I went straight into working for a design agency in London (The University of Life as I like to call it!). After a few years, a move to Nottingham, working full time for a few different companies, as well as gaining a lot of freelance experience, I set up Attitude Design as a proper agency in early 2008 - and we have been going from strength to strength ever since...

Your work is great, where do you get your inspiration for it?

Everything is an inspiration. From the phrases and conversations I overhear in a restaurant to the design magazines, to nature, to art galleries and design museums, to the usual websites set up to help stimulate us designers.

Have you ever hit a mental block when designing, and if so, how did you overcome this?

I often look at a combination of things to get ideas for a design - I am a subscriber to Creative Review so I often flick through back copies of this or go through a selection of design related books. I am also a frequent visitor to website showcases and I collect any leaflets or brochures that catch my eye - so going through those always helps.

If none of those things work, I often find a breath of fresh air and a 10 minute walk helps to clear my head!

What is the biggest challenge that you have faced during your design career?

Owww, that's a tough one! I think starting Attitude Design up, managing a team of people and ensuring that client expectations are met and exceeded is tough. Making money and having fun is always a tough balance but I'm enjoying the challenge!

When given a blank canvas, what steps to do you take to create such stunning original work?

For me, design is all about purpose. It's not about creating something that appeals to just me and not even necessarily just to the client - it is actually all about what will appeal to the target audience. So, I have a good read through the brief and the first step is to get my head into the mind of the target audience. What are they like? How old are they? What do they do on the weekends? Why would they be attracted to this design? What tangible emotional benefits will it bring them? Etc Etc.

Once I've got a few notes on this I'd then go and research the type of designs this audience would be comfortable with, and then start to gain ideas and sketches from this. This process normally allows you to see where a client's current design style might be weak, or what aspects of their designs are positive - if they are a new client then it helps steer the project in the right direction.

An example of this process working well was when the team and I recently worked on Nottingham's famous Galleries of Justice Museum rebrand [here] It soon became apparent, as we were entering into the mindset of their target audience, that their current branding and design style was way too bland and did not appeal - therefore when we started coming up with design ideas we made sure they addressed these points. The project was a massive success.
We work with a process of refinement. We start off with maybe three design ideas, all based upon the brief and research. We then send these to the client or present them. Based upon the client's views we then refine and develop the ideas until a final design is born. I think it is important to work with clients as they will know their target audience way better than we ever will and so it's important to have their input every step of the way.

Do you have any advice for new designers?

We often get new designers and students emailing us for advice. I always say to them - get a website - get your portfolio on the web. We are in the 21st Century and if you don't have a website what are you doing with yourself! There is some advice on portfolios here.

I'd also advise them to dabble in a lot of medias. Being multi-disciplined makes you more employable and if you are creative and talented, it's only a question of learning the software or coding language (HTML / CSS).
However on top of all of the above, the most important thing, I would suggest, is getting a good grasp on typography and grid layouts - these two things are at the heart of every design, so get them right and get them in your brain early on and you'll stand more of a chance of success.

What program(s) do you use to create your work?

Hehe - this question should be "What program(s) DON'T you use to create your work?!" We use all sorts but I guess the main ones are the Adobe Creative Suite - containing Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. For the web we often hand code using TextWrangler. There is then animation and video packages, mostly we use Adobe Flash for this. Remember though - it's not the program that makes a design - it's the idea.

View other Matt Davies Interviews:


hi, Mattt,

I really like this interview and find it helpful, also I love your work, its great.
your website is very very easy going, clear and simple. perfect.

I am a professional freelance graphic designer from INDIA.

I have good design skills and want to be an entrepreneur.....any guidance?

I like to being in touch with you.