James Martin is a creator of logos & builder of brands who run a design studio in Southampton, England, UK. James has been a designer for 15 years and now specialises in brand and logo creation.
— The Logo Creative™ (@thelogocreative) April 15, 2020
You may know James from Instagram where he is known as “Made By James” and this is where I first discovered him. What attracted me to James’s work was the fact that he posts a lot of hand-drawn logos that show his process and are very similar to my style as I love to draw my logos so I was instantly hooked.
Something that’s always been with James growing up is his love for drawing. Before venturing into Graphic Design he became a fine artist, he also did a tattoo apprenticeship, jobs that required sketchbook work, so he always had his sketchbook handy.
This transitioned into James becoming a graphic designer and started off working as a junior designer for an agency using his passion and skill of drawing to create some awesome logos and illustrations then moving on to start up his own studio.
The Logo Creative – Hi James I love your work, and it’s great that you’re taking part in our designer interviews.
James Martin – Hi Andrew, that’s awesome mate, thanks for getting me involved, I really appreciate that…
The Logo Creative – What was the turning point in your life when you decided to become a designer and how did you proceed?
James Martin – I grew up always wanting to be a fine artist… but when I was at college my tutor approached me and told me about this world of graphic design, which I had absolutely no idea about.
He basically said my style of drawing was very suited to that of a graphic designer, so I got myself into university – while at university I got a junior designer position at an agency – worked there for 5 years – then started up my own agency called Baby Giant Design Co with a mate – now we are 10 years strong.
The Logo Creative – What does your day consist of?
James Martin – I have a pretty solid routine;
- 06:30 – eyes open
- 07:00 – Walking dog
- 08:00 – get into the office
- 18:00 – leave office
- 22:00 – bed
Then repeat Monday to Friday.
The Logo Creative – Are you a morning person or night owl and is there a reason why?
James Martin – Definitely a morning person… I love to sleep too much to be a night person
The Logo Creative – What was the first logo you ever designed?
James Martin – I honestly can’t remember the very first (that shows you how forgettable it was) but I know one of my very first was for a company called “Mummy and Me” – which was a shop to get all your baby wears and all that jazz. I don’t think they are around any longer – probably due to the crappy logo I did.
The Logo Creative – What is your favourite logo you have designed?
James Martin – I‘m still totally in love with the Baby Giant Logo – it was done 10 years ago and is getting better and better in my eyes.
The Logo Creative – What’s the best logo you’ve designed that clients DIDN’T go for?
James Martin – There have been LOADS… too many to chat about here.
The Logo Creative – What is your favourite logos of all time?
James Martin – I have always been a big lover of the FedEx logo – clever use of negative space – and clean as you like.
The Logo Creative – Can you describe or give us an overview of your logo design process?
James Martin – So generally a client will approach me via my website, Instagram or email – I then ask them for a brief – we get down to the nitty-gritty of pricing – if they are cool with that they then pay their deposit (i Work on a 75/25 scenario) – we have a call before the project starts – once it starts I then go into the sketchbook and bing bang bosh the logo is born.. I don’t like to half ass a load of designs, I tend to put my full ass into one design so I make sure it has all the goodness in there… but hey, we are all different.
The Logo Creative – What brands do you most admire and how do they influence your creative thinking?
James Martin – I have always been a big fan of Lincoln Design Co – those dudes are the real deal… they made me realise that its ok to do what you want how you want. They have this unique style that transcends all of their stuff, it’s instantly recognisable as their work and that really pushed me to create a process that’s mine and a style that I can own… Kudos to your team LDC.
The Logo Creative – What do you consider your most successful design project, and why?
James Martin – I don’t like to count one project more successful than the next – for me my job is to make all my clients happy – who-ever they are – so a happy client for me counts as a successful project… I don’t like to over complicate stuff.
The Logo Creative – How long does it take to complete the average logo design project from start to finish?
James Martin – I have done logos an hour before – sometimes it happens like that… but it’s general I would say 8 hrs is about average.
The Logo Creative – What are your recommended design books to read?
James Martin – There are So many but if I had to choose one it would be “the win without pitching manifesto” by Blair Enns – all designers should read it.
The Logo Creative – Which software do you use frequently and is there any you would recommend to designers?
James Martin – I’m all in the Adobe stuff – mainly I use illustrator for logo bits and bobs.
The Logo Creative – What is your favourite style of logo design? And why?
James Martin – I love keeping stuff clean and minimal – that would be my go-to for sure, my mantra is “it doesn’t have to be detailed to contain detail” I love telling stories through simple visuals.
The Logo Creative – What is your daily inspiration when you design?
James Martin – The process of drawing is my biggest inspiration – that’s where all the fun stuff happens for me.
The Logo Creative – When you’re not designing do you have a favorite free time activity you like to do?
James Martin – I have recently got into reading (A LOT) but if I’m not doing that I like to spend time outside – I love a walk and the fresh air.
The Logo Creative – What was the biggest challenge you ever faced on a project?
James Martin – Crappy clients who think they are designers…. when that starts to happen, my main mission is to complete the project and run away as quickly as possible. In all honesty as a designer I think I have had it pretty easy – I only take on projects that I really love and get rid of the ones I don’t – the vetting process at the beginning means that most of my projects are with awesome people.
The Logo Creative – In your opinion what’s the best and worst part of your job as a designer?
James Martin – The best part is being paid to do something I love – the worst thing is being asked to do it for free because I love it.
The Logo Creative – Who is the most inspiring person to you and why?
James Martin – My parents have both been mega in my life – they have always had my back and allowed me to explore my creativity – even back in the day when being creative was “never going to make you money”
The Logo Creative – Who is your favourite graphic designer and why?
James Martin – I honestly don’t have a favourite – there are so many people doing awesome things that I think you would be stupid to pick just one… I pick up influences from so many different creative industries to help me develop my own skills and that’s one thing I think every young designer should implement.
The Logo Creative – What’s your favourite design quote or quote in general, and do you have a mantra or saying you live by?
James Martin – “Less is more” – that aligns itself with personal mantra – “it doesn’t have to be detailed to contain detail”
The Logo Creative – In less than 10 words what is graphic design?
James Martin – A shed load of fun.
The Logo Creative – What steps did you take to start your graphic design business? Did you have to make any sacrifices on your journey?
James Martin – With starting a business there are many sacrifices you have to make – the most important thing you can do is give yourself as much time as you can – stuff generally doesn’t just happen, it takes time, patience and a lot of hard work but in the end, it’s always worth it.
The Logo Creative – Do you have any regrets? Is there anything you would have changed early on in your career?
James Martin – Wouldn’t change a thing – lessons have been learned and without them I wouldn’t be where I am today.
The Logo Creative – If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self?
James Martin – Don’t change a thing!
The Logo Creative – What’s the most important piece of advice you have received as a designer that’s helped you?
James Martin – Find three people;
- someone you can teach
- someone that’s on your level
- someone that you can learn from
The Logo Creative – What would be your advice for new Logo and Graphic Designers?
James Martin – BE PATIENT!