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D&AD Blog on Personal Work

This is an article I wrote recently for the D&AD education resource. I hope you enjoy it.

Running your own graphic design company from a young age, in my case 23, you think all the work you do is “personal”. You aren’t working for anyone else, you target the clients you want to work with, you choose your staff, you decide what to pitch for, how much time to put in, what to turn down, which battles to fight and which to concede. You take it home with you at night and it’s right there with you the next morning – if indeed it hasn’t troubled your sleep as well. My name is on the door, my holiday photos are on the website – it’s pretty damn personal.

It wasn’t until I was 30 and on sabbatical in Japan that I realised the drawing and research I was doing there was the first I had done purely for myself for almost 10 years and it was quite a revelation. When I was a student I was a fervent drawer and obsessive maker of visual diaries but that all fell by the wayside as my professional life took over and consumed my creative world. I’m not complaining – we built an incredible team and I have a portfolio full of stories, adventures and memories that are all incredibly personal. But it there was always a client. And that’s the key difference.

I have gone on record many times to say how much I detest designers bitching about their clients – seriously, either get better ones or shut up and take the money. And this isn’t about client-bashing. Problem solving and working towards a common creative goal with motivated people who pay you for your services is an immensely satisfying way to earn a living. But I have realised I have to have my own work alongside. It keeps your eyes fresh and your soul intact – it also helps to really understand where they are coming from. (It’s only until it’s YOUR product on a website you understand why maybe, just maybe, the “Buy it Now” button should be a little bit bigger, and while you’re at it, maybe the logo too?)

I moved to Paris last year and a chance meeting with a very talented writer lead to a collaboration we call “Mademoiselle London”. Kat writes, I design and Illustrate as well as managing the brand and the online activity. We self published our first book to a great reception in France and are working on the second. It was born out of a mutual need to create a new voice in a place where our language is not the “maternelle” – to find a way to belong here. No client, the only deadlines self imposed and the only brief to make something we were proud of. It has brought back to my life what I left behind in my student days – an ownership of my visual language, my free time and my creative purpose. It puts you back in the centre of your work and, I think, makes you better at the paid stuff.

So I implore all students reading this; whatever it is you do for yourself  alongside the structured workload of courses and student briefs; as the all consuming beginnings of your career threaten to take over – don’t stop doing it.

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Cafe Pt. Trois

Definitely punching above his weight

L’histoire de Deux Portables

Once upon a time this little Lapinette Chaude had 2 mobile phones…

One was really swanky. It could tell the weather, sing, dance and count to a thousand. It cost a lot of money and was designed by a Knight of the Realm.

The other had horrible green edging and you had to press the 7 key 4 times just to get an S. It could, however, do something that Franki was finding very, very hard…


It could speak French. And every day it was gently mocking her.

Franki used to want to be like the iPhone, all shiny and clever and modern. Then she moved to Paris and didn’t care about any of that anymore. She just wanted to be able to do what her €19, piece of shit, pay-as-you-go Vicatel mobile (and every other man on the street) could do and was finding it all quite humbling.

Then she went out, got drunk and lost them both. And that was the end of that feeble little allegory.

Kiosk (le or la.. je m’en fou!)

Elle veut mes bonbons?

A little girl asked me for my sweets on the Metro today, so I gave them to her.

French Men Carrying Bread (Pt. Un)

In celebration of meeting Katya.

Cafe Pt. Deux

The beginning of my Parisian journey

They’ll get better, I promise.

Yayoi Kusama’s ‘Pumpkin’

pumpkin011

Liked this one as a sketch…

pencil-pumpkin

Fushimi-Inari Taisha

Hello

I'm Franki Goodwin - freelance Creative Director and Digital Strategist. This blog was started whilst on sabbatical in Australia and Japan in 2009 and is now my day to day professional ramblings, drawings and interesting-ish happenings. A selection of my work is also showcased below. franki@frankigoodwin.com