Team Insights – Dan Burgess
I can’t quite believe we are well into the eighth week of Lockdown and now onto the third in our series of virtual fireside chats with the team. You’ll have to imagine the fire but hopefully our chat with Dan, our senior designer, will distract you from the difficulties of isolation, restricted movement and, of course, home-schooling!
Morning Dan, thanks for giving up some time for this chat. How are you holding up in week 8 of lockdown?
It was a definite shock to the system at first but I’ve adjusted to it now. Along with the frustrations it brings, remote work has a lot of positives too. The increase in times we’re allowed outside has also helped to break the cabin fever.
Are the creative juices flowing better at home or do you crave the buzz of the office?
It’s a mixed bag. For the head-down-focus type work, the quiet here works well. I definitely miss the buzz of the office and the collaborative atmosphere it brings, though.
Does the change of scene allow you to focus on things that inspire your design philosophy?
Not really. I like to tackle projects from a human-centered design angle – putting the people I’m designing for at the centre of the process and solutions – so that can be trickier when you’re not allowed to see other humans! Having said that, the internet definitely makes it easier, using collaborative tools to keep in touch with the team and clients.
We see lots of COVID messaging out there but do you think design has a role to play in helping brands react to the current crisis and their customers’ changing demands?
I think the varying successes and failures of government responses around the world have highlighted how important clarity is during times like these. A lot of that is down to language, but design and how that information is displayed is vital, too. I think brands need to step carefully and sensitively going forward, but there’s also a huge opportunity to use design in a positive way and change how things are done.
Clydewire is growing fast. How has your role developed over the last year/18 months?
I’ve been involved with the design side of things with John long before Clydewire existed. Bringing the two companies together has been very exciting and my role has developed as the team has grown. The biggest change is probably going from being the only designer to working with Amy, which has been fantastic because I’m a big believer that any creative work is more successful when you put two heads together.
What excites you about the future of Clydewire?
There are lots of exciting plans on the horizon but I’d say the growth of the team is the best bit. If we keep attracting and adding like-minded individuals to the team then whatever the future holds will be exciting.
There are certain sectors that will tolerate unlimited creative freedom when it comes to design. Others, not so much. Do you prefer the challenge of creating a brand and associated design for the former or the latter and why?
Can I choose both? The variety is what keeps it interesting for me. Creating something from scratch is exciting and fulfilling, but in some ways working within tight constraints can be more rewarding due to the added challenges I get to overcome.
Technology plays an increasingly important role in all our lives. What tech has been transformative for you since you started your career?
I have a lot of admiration for early graphic designers who, before computers changed the industry, had to do everything by hand. Design software is so powerful these days that imagination is the only real limitation.
Part of your role is to design brand identities or logos. Are there any hard and fast rules you stick to and are there any tests you perform before feeling comfortable you’ve got it right?
A good logo has a lot of criteria to hit: be versatile enough to use in different situations and sizes; simple but effective; memorable, original and ownable; have meaning or a concept behind it; be a successful representation of the brand or message. My test is usually stepping away from an idea and then coming back fresh and seeing if it still hits all of the criteria.
Do you have a design hero or is there a creative genius in another art who inspires (or inspired) you?
I’ve long been a fan of Ken Garland – one of the original design legends. I like how he continually questions the discipline and keeps it moving. In 1964, he wrote a manifesto that was signed by many of his peers and challenged the idea that design is nothing but a tool of consumerism. During my uni studies, Ken was lovely when I contacted him and he agreed to be interviewed for my dissertation on how design can be used to manipulate.
Can you take any positives from the current situation and what changes will you make as a result of the COVID crisis?
I imagine it will have snapped a lot of people out of their sleepwalking ways and made them appreciate what they’ve got and what’s important a bit more. I think it will make businesses consider working in different ways and challenging the status quo is also a good thing. Personally, I’ll never take a hug for granted again!
Given an unlimited budget, where would you be isolating (and working)?
Somewhere with some outside space would be nice. Living in a flat, I’ve been pretty envious of garden owners these past few months. If it’s an unlimited budget, let’s go somewhere warm too. Maybe a private island so isolating would be easy.
Here are few quickfire questions to finish:
Straight lines or curves? Straight lines
Colour or black & white? Colour
James Dyson or Jony Ive? Jony Ive
Beer or Wine? Wine
Glasgow or Yorkshire? Sneaky question, Craig! I’m originally from Yorkshire but I’d have to choose Glasgow as it’s been my adopted home for years.
Thanks Dan, much appreciated.
If you’d like to chat to Dan about your brand or an upcoming project, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 0141 308 1029.