Glug Brum Speaker: Gavin Strange

Gavin Strange is a jack of all trades, master of flip all; Senior Designer for Bristol's Aardman Animations by day, and a creative berk going under the alias 'JamFactory' by night.

Born and raised in the Midlands, Gav designs all things digital for games, apps and sites, as well as being lucky enough to get stuck into other projects like Gromit Unleashed and Shaun in the City.

Outside of his day job Gav turns his hand to a dizzying list of projects, plunging head-first into new and exciting areas.

Headlining our upcoming Glug Birmingham event on Thursday 4th June (next week folks!), earlier this month we invited him to design our official poster – following in the footsteps of previous speakers Alex Fowkes and Simon Peplow. It’s become something of a Glug Brum tradition afterall.

We caught up with him as he prepares to take the stage at Barcelona’s OFFF conference to find out more about his idea and what he’s most looking forward to about Glug..

So, you’ve been a designer for over 7 years now – what do you love most about it?

Oh man – everything! I genuinely believe we’re in such a lucky position to be creative as a job. To be paid to make something from nothing is incredible, and I find it really important to not squander that at all. I think the fact that we can create something that connects with people – that makes them feel something, elicit an emotion, is fantastic and a huge honour (and responsibility) to have.

It’s the best job in the world!

Is there anything you dislike most about your chosen career?

Being crap at actually making things by hand is probably a by-product of spending most of my time on a computer – I’d love to be able to impress my dad by building a shed or welding something, anything. To be fair though, that’s not about being a designer, that’s just about me being crap, so nope, nothing I dislike about being a designer at all. 🙂

I just sort of followed my gut and gravitated towards the things I was really interested in and excited by.

If you hadn’t gone into the creative industry what else might you have done for a living? Did you ever have a Plan B?

Oh, great question! Ermmm… no. No Plan B. That’s a good point, I’d better make a Plan B in case this design business thing doesn’t work out! But seriously though, no I didn’t. I just sort of followed me gut and gravitated towards the things I was really interested in and excited by. I did a 2 year BTEC at Leicester College in Graphic Design many moons ago, and that led to a job as a Junior Designer at a local design agency in Leicester. When then led to going freelance which then led me to Aardman. So I’ve very much just focused on the task in hand, whether that be learning new things at college or working out how to run my own business as self employed – they’ve then led onto the next thing naturally rather than an over all game plan.

We’ve had a sneak peek of the new Midland Masters poster and we can’t wait to reveal the design!  Can you tell us about your concept and what inspired the idea?

I love it when briefs like this one come along – It was really open; Lisa wanted something bright and fun with typography, which sounds ideal to me. I have a text file I keep saved, which is filled with silly graphic ideas that I plan on pursuing. Sometimes the list just lays dormant for a while, as no idea on there ‘fits’ with a project I’m working on, but a ‘minimal graphic design intepretation of the Garbage Pail Kids’ felt like it would be a great fit for the Midland Masters poster!

So that’s how it came about – I’m a huge fan of all the weird & wonderful things that we grew up with in the 80’s and obviously nostalgia is a huge draw to any designer, so I suppose we always end up pulling on the inspirations we had growing up. Garbage Pail Kids were a firm favourite of mine – I remember I didn’t really have many of the stickers, as my Mum thought they were too gross and wouldn’t let me buy them, but that made them more even more exciting! (Sneak peek above)

I’m a huge fan of all the weird & wonderful things that we grew up with in the 80’s and obviously nostalgia is a huge draw to any designer, so I suppose we always end up pulling on the inspirations we had growing up.

I just started doodling ideas for different ‘characters’ but it needed to be something that was visually really impactful, could be relayed graphically and simply, and the name pun would relate to creatives – ‘Deadline Debbie’ was the clear winner!

The ‘Creative Block Bunch’ would be really cool as a series – any plans to design more characters?

I’d really like to! I originally wanted to do 3 different posters, but I found the ‘Deadline Debbie’ character the strongest, so decided to use my time best and focus on that one. I have other ideas for other characters, so yeah I’d definitely like to make more! I’d love to do a sticker pack, complete with the crappy piece of gum – that’d be ace!

We’d love to see that happen! As a seasoned speaker you’ve hit the stage at several conferences, speaker events and festivals – any advice for nervous first time speakers?

I think it’s a massive honour to be able to stand up and talk about what you love, and for people to give you their time and attention, that’s a really special thing, so I would say don’t forget that, how special it is. It’s really hard to say ‘don’t be nervous’ because talking in front of lots of people is nerve-wracking, and that’s half the fun of it too. It’s fun because it is scary!

What I would say though, is that no one knows your work, your subject matter more than you do. You know yourself, your work and your style inside out. If we were all doctors presenting our latest facts figures & findings then that’d be truly terrifying, as those quantifiable facts really mean something – but in creative talks where you’re sharing what you know and what your story is – you’re the one who knows that best!

And, of course, enjoy it!

Great advice! Finally, what are you most looking forward to about Glug Birmingham?

Seeing all the other speakers, hearing about their work and stories and being back in the motherland for an evening! |

Join us for Glug Birmingham on Thursday 4th June, Spotlight & Nextdoor, Lower Trinity Street, Birmingham. Doors open at 6pm, talks start at 7pm. Tickets on sale now, priced at £10 and include a free drink & poster on arrival – click here to buy.


Posted on May 28th, 15 by | Twitter: @lisahassell

Founder & director of Inkygoodness, Lisa is a published writer and arts journalist, focusing on creative business, graphic art and illustration and design education. Her words regularly appear in Computer Arts, Creative Bloq, Digital Arts and IdN.

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