Bonus Episode - Fred Brown
In this bonus episode of the Creative Waffle podcast, I chat with young designer Fred Brown. I offer him some advice on how to get a first client, how to improve your design skills, what to post on social media, how the design process works and more. If you're a new or young designer, I hope you get some value from this episode.
Find Fred here:
Full Episode - Audio Only
5 Bullet Breakdown
1. 07:00 The thing with social media… It's is hard to get over that first step. My sister is a little bit older than you, she has her own business and she's always worrying about the likes and followers. There's something about that age group where… you’ve just got to get over it. Post-It, you can always delete it, you can always go back but just to see how it goes.
2. 10:41 Who should do consulting? Can you be too young? How much experience do you need?
3. 11:31 Getting a message and meaning into a concept. Not just a pretty design.
4. 15:36 Example of getting a message into a design from a consulting session.
5. 35:00 “You can only get so much value and inspiration from other peoples work” Get out of your normal environment.
Clip of the week
Full Video Version
Catch the video version of the show on YouTube. https://youtu.be/cKkp3AoWmOo
Full Episode Transcript
Bonus Ep - Fred Brown Advice to a younger designer
[00:00:00] There we go, you’re on the podcast. Could you explain who you are and how we got in touch?
All right me being a huge fan. I sent mark an email a few days ago, nearly a week ago. I think. Saying that I was a huge fan, asking a few tips and some questions I had and he of course to replied almost instantly and He gave me the offer to talk on Skype.
[00:00:27] So I took him up on the offer. Now, we're here filming a podcast, but yes, glad to be here but more of an introduction. I'm Fred. I'm only 15 nearly 16, I’m currently living in Belgium. My first year of high school nearly my second year. That's pretty much it.
Nice. So how did you find design then?
[00:00:52] I think like first started because I pirated Photoshop, back in the day. Started designing FIFA thumbnails for YouTubers and all that jazz. Obviously it developed into more serious passion, which I'm really passionate about now.
Yeah, cool. I mean the FIFA, it’s a good place to start off, the gaming community. I did the same, start off with like Call of Duty Clans and stuff and like exactly overlays and bits and Bobs.
[00:01:29] So what sort of stuff for you struggling with now what was all stuff you trying to do?
So right now trying to build my portfolio and to get out there with other creatives. Collaborate really learn from them and apply those learning curves that some people have had or bad outcomes, positive outcomes and adapting that to my work, and then hopefully improve myself.
Cool. [00:02:00] So you're looking at moving on to design college. You’re looking at moving onto doing a course at University?
[00:02:07] Yep. A bachelors in graphic design. So have you spoken to any lecturers there or?
Not yet. I have spoken to my graphic design teacher at my school, I’ve asked for a few tips about it.
So when you leave school then how old. Is it next year or two more years?.
Two more years, Okay, cool.
[00:02:32] Yeah plenty of time. So you’re trying to do freelance whilst you're at school. You just trying to start. Yeah freelance. Brilliant.
For that. I need a portfolio, which is trying to build.
Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah, have you set yourself many projects to do or any. Stuff you've been working on.
[00:02:49] Yeah. So right now I'm working on a project for my ADHD. I'm kind of using that as a way to portray my work. So it’s a 7 piece series of how I feel when I have ADHD in a tense situation or in general life and trying to bring that out in an artistic way? So yeah, that's my project right now.
[00:03:14] It was kind of gal stability one purchase great. And that sounds like a good project that you worked on anything else to talk about people for you. I have like I said earlier when we weren't recording yet like logo designs that I'm working on but nothing really major.
[00:03:30] So yeah, maybe think about doing a few more projects as well. If you can fit it in around around time. I've heard from other people that around six projects is a good amount to have, so that you’ve got a good strong portfolio and strong projects.
[00:03:49] I certainly think that’s a good solid amount. So yeah, what sort of graphic design do you want to do then, logos? You said logos and branding mainly.
Yeah logo [00:04:00] design and branding.
Yeah. So if you centre that around that. Maybe even just redesign your local shop.
[00:04:08] Just take it and put your full creativity into it. And then maybe if it's that good you can even pitch it to them later on.
Is there's anything around you, that you're interested in, shops or anything you would rebrand?
I feel like packaging is too much like it's not really what I want to do specifically but the packaging of Apple like. I think that's very interesting conversation because I say always you're paying for that unboxing as well. Right? So you're paying for that clean taking that layer off the iPhone, you know all that and I think they could have like an anniversary phone or that packaging would be totally different totally something that they haven't done before that. That'd be cool approach something new something fresh something different from. The normal Apple packaging. Not saying I don't like the Apple [00:05:00] packaging but I. We can always just do something else.
Yeah but, are there any shops around you that you could rebrand or talk to them?
Oh, yeah, there's probably a few. Yeah, but I haven't really engaged with them yet because they don't feel like, once again, I'm not old enough since it's a bit in between the awkward stage.
[00:05:17] They probably wouldn't hire me because of my age and my lack of experience. Obviously.
Yes. So it’s a catch 22. So with that was not feeling old enough. I mean, you don't have to tell them they're going to rebrand them. Just just do it for yourself. And if you feel confident in that work, then you can say ‘what do you think this’ if they say it's good then you show them and then you say…
[00:05:38] Yeah, I did this for you as just a side project. Would you be interested in using it and I can you pay me for it?
Yeah a really good idea. At least it’s a portfolio booster, at least it helps you buildup work. You said before as well. You're a bit worried about posting on Instagram.
[00:05:56] You're scared of getting the first post out there. Why is that?
I don't know. It's just, I know my engagement is going to be low and I know my likes are not going to be enough and just feel like what's the point of posting? If not it's not a lot of people are gonna see it and potentially the words bad.
[00:06:12] And then when I give someone my like Twitter handle or my Instagram handle and they pop it up here. They’re like ooooh…
So yeah, everyone starts off at the same place. I was 15 and I was on Twitter mainly that point and just posting and doing work for sports equipment companies and cricket bat companies and it was really bad work.
[00:06:37] I still got some of it upstairs and they used on the actual bats. Like there will always be someone that takes you on and will work with you. But when you look back the work, you’ll think that it was rubbish, that in five years time, when you’re 20, you'll be thinking about that was rubbish.
[00:06:55] But at the time it was good. I really enjoy doing that.
[00:07:00] The thing with social media… It's is hard to get over that first step. My sister is a little bit older than you, she has her own business and she's always worrying about the likes and followers. There's something about that age group where… you’ve just got to get over it. Post-It, you can always delete it, you can always go back but just to see how it goes.
I mean, you’ve got 700 followers on Instagram. I mean, I don't think you should worry about followers and that. 700, it's not a small amount.
How do you get those without posting then?
[00:07:38] Those are all my friends and other people from school, that know me, that's great. Your friends from school they’ll like your stuff.
Maybe possibly, but then they realise that I'm posting design work. They're probably not interested in.
So are you one of the only people that's planning to do their own business outside of school.
Yeah, you got you got to get posting, you got to really get on social media, otherwise people don't know that your there.
Maybe start off with your sketches and your process of how… something that does work really well is a sketch and showing behind the scenes. How you doing the projects?
So. If you're designing a logo for local bakery say, one day do the sketches and then post on social media, obviously with relevant tags and hashtags and location posts ect.
[00:08:39] I can go into that later on if you want with you, but yeah, and then the next day have a post post a little digital version of of it. And I know what they are that you've got a mock-up of it of on a sign of the three stages that are being used, you know kind of Fowler. Yeah, I do so he deservedly used to [00:09:00] I'm sure he's moving away from it.
[00:09:01] But he did that really well where did the state and that's worked very well for me and that's how I was brought up a following. Maybe it's also for really good to show. Step of the process in the clients with understand how you got to a certain situation and designers love saying that as well. They love seeing the behind the scenes so that all that is a good way to get engagement and post work is showing the process which I should do more.
[00:09:24] That's a little bit of I said, it will buy website. So you thinking about getting your own website and stuff like that. Yep. I'm not the best at website. Like I have a website account. They even have a premium account. I still need to use it and make my own or potentially obviously hire someone but I don't really have the money for that yet.
[00:09:45] But that was coming at some point. Yeah website designs too complicated for me, but Leslie for my portfolio. I need to get something up there soon as possible. Well, yeah, it's social media is probably more important. I don't know because it's a age-old [00:10:00] argument where you go is social media these days more important than websites.
[00:10:04] I think probably just people people are already on the app by people aren't already on your website. So I. I'll get people I got you work on your on these social media is first even if it's like dribble or be honest as well. You've got those for design communities engaging learning of other designers.
[00:10:21] Yeah, I mean there's so much to do when you're starting up. But yeah get the way I started with Twitter but Instagram probably neck. I've heard it now. It's just get on that search local companies and see if you can do any work for them location tags is gonna be important. I think machine commenting on local people's.
[00:10:40] It's good way to make yourself known in the area. Yeah, I have a few questions on here. Do you mind if I am yeah, absolutely go. Okay. So you have one one thing relating to what we just talked about is about creatives and companies and you're following. So I was wondering is it better to have other creatives?
[00:10:59] Follow [00:11:00] me such as yourself or Connor or. We have axial potential clients be my main phone roid. Yes us from really clients, isn't it? Like it probably to get work depends what you want you to do what you want to do? Because I mean if the podcast that's obviously what I want designers to follow that because that's who I'm targeting a hat.
[00:11:19] But then if you've got if you've got like my blue did sign account, I really want football people to be following that I don't want to sign as really we was just is what is bad because I started off. Getting designs to follow it and now I'm trying to sway at them away. So you can start afresh just clients to follow it by like we talked about like interact with local people and messaging them.
[00:11:40] That's probably what you need because the problem is like I freaked out by just about one of the books by Polly boo letters and symbols that want to offer that as a resource to other graphic designers and be posting by now my story but then I feel like clients don't want to see that like, they just want to see my work.
[00:11:58] Current recent projects that I've been [00:12:00] working on instead of resource for graphic designers specific goes. Yeah. I mean something's on I'm interested in I'm interested in design books. So I mean if it's a client then. Yeah, it's like could be justified as resources and you could put on there. It's not a holiday picture or picture it dogs.
[00:12:18] And as long as the time I think you know, I think you get something a good with a design. But yeah, so yeah make it make it like client-focused. Very next question is what should my design process look like and how long should that process take for Branding project? We push the price. Yeah, so.
[00:12:40] Remind myself my process now so that's all you got to go to ask us questions to the clients. Definitely get as much information as you can out of them. Just just just even going for a drink with them or a coffee and or other if you drink coffee, but he's like, okay. Just any [00:13:00] hot drink or some sort of meeting with them first like ideally at their office if they got an office or a shop go for them because then you get an understanding of how the environment is.
[00:13:10] Just yeah, really trap yourself in their shoes. So ask questions like when you're founded and find out the back story about them and even the person who's running the shop. So you're meeting with Susie who's a woman who runs a bakery. Keep going back to the bakery. They say you're a team of Susie the baker find out what Susie.
[00:13:28] Like side of bacon as well see if you can get additional information. Yeah about about her and then trying to get trying with the logo personal to her and her business about that's just yeah just tons and tons of questions really it right. The throne send over in a questionnaire like try another cool with them or a meeting with them as I found that tend to put people off send a big long load a list of questions to a client then it would just they just can't be bothered.
[00:14:00] [00:14:00] So yeah, I have a meeting with them ask those questions get those notes and from there. You can start by picking things to start sketching. Yeah. Say you find out she likes a certain type of type of cupcake or bake or I don't know, you know wasn't know what some sort of food socialized to a certain type of ring baking things.
[00:14:26] Can't think now that yeah draw like icons around that food or like start round start sketching stuff around there and he found out that. She's not she's not the only person that owns it maybe there's two other owners as well says three people that own it maybe start doing some stuff on triangles or and then there's like little things like that you could pick up on and you can start taking ideas of ideas from and starts getting some.
[00:14:51] So yeah, so you got the questions then you got sketching and then you talk to obviously talk to the client and making sure you're going down the right route just sort of put up a mood board [00:15:00] of of like other designs and sort of the right direction that you want take. So if we have a client if you're before you already before you start sketching what you want to establish I could sign.
[00:15:12] Which will basically make make sure you stick on the track sticking to the right direction drop the curtain. It's not really open in narrowing down. It's like funnels you narrowing down the Aaron down the roots. Push will have the the colors and visual style that you're going for a PDF like it's not a mood board is the action of him.
[00:15:35] Yeah. Do one of those say look this is what I've got planned for the project is this is same lines of of the design style. You got a note in your head and then you start sketching and once I disagreed you can sort of stick to that. Let's get this around that design. Okay. There's a very long-winded way of saying it.
[00:15:51] Okay, then you got. Sketch it is then you you know, you're on track. So you got the mood body both agreed to after that. You can go into the computer and. [00:16:00] Talking total - I'm going back and forth with the client and actually digitalizing the one of the sketches or a couple of every the strongest once you've agreed to a certain route.
[00:16:10] You start picking colors so oil is doing black and white and then and then you bringing the colors that you agreed on at first so that kind of stuff so I mean again Blues teams, very corporate. Pink things and they would have different colors and different meanings is loads of things online about the psychology of color.
[00:16:28] So maybe that and refer back to that. It's were all yeah, so presenting routes to clients as well. So after you've agreed on certain shapes and symbols that you're going to you can have using the logo mock them up and like you use a mock up and make it feel real. You're presenting them in a PDF.
[00:16:45] You got to make it feel real as possible and not just a flat icon on the screen the way I tend to do it is present them in two or three mock-ups as well as having the flat version of the colored the Reversed out color version black and white that's like six pages seven pages full and [00:17:00] it's just one room three roots and that you know, you got 21 already this long list and as a really good if you're confident have to do this is really good tip is to video your your process video.
[00:17:11] You talking through the designs and why you chose certain fear the send that to the client rather than just send them a PDF if your video. I'm talking through why you chose certain things and why you used that shapeways this font or yeah, that one is really personal into its it gets on board and help us understand why did certain things so that so yeah, that's that and and then you go you ask for feedback you guys to see how it.
[00:17:35] This is a maybe even sent an email. This is route that I really like. I think this fits the brief the best possible. What do you think about and then yeah, and then you go back and forth and finalize it before sending of the final invoice and then don't send any file final files before they pay they paid you I have great.
[00:17:51] Yeah, that's right. I got stuff got in right direction. Yeah, and one question to answer that is you know, why don't you think each process [00:18:00] to take? So for example, the research stage sketching sage and how long would that take approximately? Yes to this question depends if your view whatever is literally loaded question because it depends if you've got any other projects going on or you have the client might not reply straight away, so it wasn't really a time together than thing.
[00:18:19] I just want to take it as it comes until you until you feel satisfied until you feel like you've exhausted all your sketches. Nailed timeline and I long as you know you this is it this is what I think it's good the portfolio that I'm presenting to universities and the portfolio to that. I'm presenting to potential clients to be should that be the same portfolio or should those be do different things?
[00:18:45] Yeah. I'm the ones the ones that universities should be a bit more in depth about the the different different projects as well. I won't be one project. So in the footage universities save or five projects, I would. I [00:19:00] have mainly images so big nice big images. They can see the details and the mock-ups and everything.
[00:19:05] But then maybe in Corners have the I have a little note saying this was the idea. This is how I did it and this is the outcome. So, I've looked a little notice explaining to the the person that's doing it wide things. Could you can't maybe are you gonna be there were supposed to look at your portfolio or if it's any other are emailed in you might be there with them.
[00:19:24] So just like a little note saying why did certain things and help them understand the. Just but yeah, so it's slightly different to the ones the clients could it's going to be more projects. But yeah, it could be a similar design. I mean it could be it could be it could be whatever you want it to be as long as it explains certain projects and shows off who you are as a designer.
[00:19:41] Yeah. Definitely. I totally agree with that for this question it is how do I find my clients? And what would you say is the best way of finding clients and that helps for the process stuff those up before we move on is that. Any more questions about that or is that all right? What if everybody [00:20:00] else?
[00:20:00] Let me know. I never sleep. I'm done. But yes, so how to find clients good question. So get on Instagram get on any social media apps as we talked about make sure you're posting work. I think there's a really good Joe Guy TV every Venture. Yep. Yeah. So he talks about the 180 of donor agency Rule and missed basically commenting on other people's posts.
[00:20:23] In good actual good feedback and I say that Sarah over name was Susan posts a picture of a cupcake that she's made on Instagram. So all that say, oh that looks lovely that is really nice very tasty and just like the start the interaction with her but make it genuine. Yeah Rock rather than saying.
[00:20:40] Oh good picture. Then be spammy actual good like engagement with these people hoping your local area because that's where everyone starts to think. Everyone starts to local area. Yeah, that's good way good way to get known in your local area and then the way it sort of spreads from there and you can move on to why the.
[00:21:00] [00:20:59] Get on social media basically and contacts as many people as you can image that start relationships even even if it's somewhere you got maybe you go to a cake shop regularly or local football team or just find out who their designer is or maybe just put yourself forward for and maybe say I love to design you and you fly or new logo, please.
[00:21:18] Can I have a go then? Someone else will come along and say oh did that and then it'll be you and then they'll find you and then it just starts to just start from here look variable. Then you find the confidence. Once you've done a few projects to its reach out to companies that aren't in your local area.
[00:21:35] Just get yourself out there and get as much work online as possible and maybe keep our people because it doesn't they don't always come to you switch to the stuff. You've got to go to them and keeping on the topic of clients. One thing I was thinking about was do I really Embrace that I am younger or do I kind of not hide it but you know like not put it out there as much.
[00:21:59] That's [00:22:00] good topic. I'm so that promise in the past. I'm not sure what what I needed to do, but I think now looking back and I think the staying true to younger self. It's gonna be hard and I know a lot of designers that speaking to I spoke to him similarly to me and have a young girl your age. They find it harder to start being themselves and being being younger getting confidence of the.
[00:22:23] But I think it's important to put yourself forward as you rather than this big company that is more than today. Yeah, don't don't say you're more than one person. Don't don't say that. That's my advice at the moment. I don't say that. You're a big company. Yeah, because I thought is yourself and just say look I am Young.
[00:22:41] I'm really Keen. I'm ready. I'm really honest and start my start my design career with you mostly like you're worried. If you want is good enough then they'll trust ya as ya that the work they open up there should be enough to make them feel confident. Yeah for building my portfolio as we're talking about [00:23:00] this earlier.
[00:23:00] So I'll but should I be making free work for clients? I know that this sounds scary scary but very work for clients so I can get to know the companies and stuff like that or keep making fake situations and making logos or branding projects for big situation. I'd go Charities to start with some Charities rather than companies because they companies are you to go on disability work?
[00:23:25] That's why I started that way as well find a charity that need someone else to do. The graphics are a bit small Chad least your is one is a good portfolio. You should get a lot of creative freedom and three you not getting done by this big company that can afford to pay you as a charity you about yourself, you know, definitely didn't think about that.
[00:23:44] So definitely get over to charity if you're doing free work. All right, so I'm constantly working really hard on my portfolio. But what else should I be doing? That would benefit my design skills in a different way than just working on my portfolio. Yeah, but then what you [00:24:00] doing reaching out to people like me and other people that a couple years ahead not comparing yourself to other people on social media not worrying about likes and on followers.
[00:24:11] I really want to Instagram to take likes and followers away like just not have a number next year. I think it would form but I also think it'd be so good for us designers not compel everyone not comparing themselves to other people because a good analogy that I use now is people on different ladders.
[00:24:27] So you're on a ladder you're at the bottom of the all ladder and someone else is on their ladder. It's not even the same address when I was on their ladder but their way up here and you're looking at their ladder saying our why not up there. Yeah you got. Yeah, it's just it's hard to start. But it's one of the biggest things is the mental side of design not worrying about what other people do and comment on your stuff or not worrying about other people's work.
[00:24:50] It's great to take inspiration to learn how people do things. Maybe maybe you could look at. Someone whose work you admire and take it into illustrator and [00:25:00] deconstructing find out how it's done find out how it's made get your illustrate design skills up to good scraps and learn tutorials and that's just using the software as much as possible really help.
[00:25:12] In InDesign CC don't if you're recreating someone else's work. Don't post it online and use it as a practice to see how things were made but up her own skills. So yeah just just practicing a lot and it has good take time. Unfortunately that's networking getting to design conferences and getting to the local things are happening in your area.
[00:25:32] Is there anything in your area? That's helping like designers. Yeah, that's what I was about to ask because there are few events here and there there's also some back in Manchester where that logo geek recommended for me. But um. Like even at this age, I'm still not sure if I want to go to events and really put myself out there because it's a bit weird hanging out walk my hand but working together and collaborating with people that have so much more [00:26:00] experience that are like top-of-the-line design, even though there's me who doesn't even have a portfolio.
[00:26:05] Our website doesn't even confident enough to post on social media. It's. I get it. The thing is we ruled out of start everyone. They're very good sign that you see we were all at the Starlight where you are thinking. Yeah, all these people is already cool people. Why life but I never going to be as good as that but you will be one day is your color if you keep going to be messaging people to interact with people and you need to go because like I know it's a lot of money we could things like creative self by going to America's is helped me so much.
[00:26:38] Well, I things like in your local area things in London or Manchester. They just like the must be stuff in Belgium has that really really will help you like of designers messaged him and maybe even sit in a portfolio as I sit in an agency for a couple of days one week and just just see how their agencies run that would be useful and just talk to them about design [00:27:00] and just surround me sir.
[00:27:01] I think that's what that's what's helped me the most surrounding yourself with other designers are ahead of you getting like like this logo. There's no group the logi group seeing other people. Posted and just being around other people. It's contagious is great. So yeah networking networking and getting around other people of designers and they rub off on you.
[00:27:19] So if you are an he playing or going to go into a studio or you just want to work for yourself, maybe start off in agencies and then go freelance. I want to go freelance directly, of course, but I'm not sure how to bubble letters. No, it's cool. I mean I've tried as well. Maybe it's might be is worth going into a studio and seeing just even for a couple of weeks or couple of days.
[00:27:41] Just seeing how they do it and just being around the other people that can teach you is that they're willing to have an extra hand in the office and they'll be willing to teach you as well. So there's a local Studio you like message them and say that I'm really Keen to come and learn and kind of build up a portfolio.
[00:27:58] Please is well those [00:28:00] blow up he's going to sit in there for a couple of days. But yeah, just surround yourself with cool people.
[00:28:07] All right. Do I have any last questions? Nope, that's it for me. There's always stuff that you feel free to message me even when you're not on the cooler because there's loads of stuff like payments and has no boring stuff like build the business side of it, which I did. Or even yeah, even if you working on designing need some help of it or you need some advice or you want to get some feedback always willing to help so just send over but yeah, I mean, let's get this exciting exciting than seeing you reach out and when you did a little smile because it was almost like my younger self reaching out to me.
[00:28:44] It was also really appreciate that, but sorry, I don't mean to be patronizing, but it's really cool to see that. I really appreciate you. Message is very kind as well. So yeah, well, I never expected that to be calling blue dear designs [00:29:00] creative long and everything except the baby. I did the whole industry is really really nice and you'll learn it the bad people are but there's not many of them.
[00:29:09] So it's really cool. Just keep messaging people and keep getting out there. Sounds good. So what you gonna do then what's the plan next week?
[00:29:22] Today this week actually already Monday. What's the plan that's a fine and this more designing work on my portfolio and maybe even post something at the end of the week. Well, that's my goal. That's not going to post something by the end of the week. Nice. Also, I like that. Yeah. Yeah.
[00:29:47] Do it with us good. It's good. I'm looking forward to all right, so Thanksgiving. Okay that was it for me. I need to go eat because it's an hour earlier here, but later like later. Yes, [00:30:00] it's just pluck. Where can people find your on social media and say hello to you. Pepper and designs on Instagram and just Fred Brown design on Twitter.
[00:30:09] That's what my use besides nice. Awesome. Well, thank you so much for being the forecast. I hope that helps and maybe we will do another one. Yep. Sounds good.