Staff Specialism | Nick Deakin

In today’s morning lecture, tutor Nick took the time to talk to us about his professional practice as a freelance designer and how he developed his career.

Nick began by telling us about his education in Fine Art. Before the internet, Nick would follow magazines such as “IDEA” for his interest in print. He also looked at and became involved in David Carson’s approach within postmodern design. Back then, technology wasn’t as it was now. Nick used software such as Adobe Photoshop 3.0- which at the time was very new/hip and popular as well as Freehand 5.0 which is essentially the old illustrator.

After graduating, Nick found himself getting lost and depressed as he didn’t know what to do with his career. Therefore, decided to move away from Sheffield and stay at a friends apartment in NYC with his girlfriend until they had enough money to get their own place. Nick worked as a waiter as well as a call operator to gather enough cash. He managed to work at year at a call center and not make any calls by disconnecting the phone.

In New York, he was attracted to design such as “EMIGRE” which he found stimulating. Nick told us that he spent a lot of time in Staples drawing and using Letterpress type- simply for fun, it was something he was interested in. From his drawings, he would print lots of stickers and go around the city sticking them in places. Nick was very interested in print and photocopying, therefore whilst working took advantage of his access.

From influences such as designer Ed Fella, Nick became very interested in typography and experimentation. He would use notebooks and sketch different typographic pieces in pen- not pencil, so that if mistakes were made, they could be manipulated and brought into the image.

Nick Deakin Booklet

Nick then moved onto talking about his first big project which was for Coca Cola. The company approached Nick and asked him to create a character of a Hip Hop dog, and he was targeted for a Latina audience. Nick developed his character using existing characters, and wanted to capture the dog a bit geeky and hipster. Multiples sketches were made from different angles and perspectives before deciding on a final variation. Included in the final piece are the original sketches. Nick likes to make his imagery a little more textured and not to have a clean finish. For this project in particulr he felt as though it worked really well.

Nick also moved on to working for companies such as: Shell, The Guardian and the New York Times, which I found rather impressive. One more recent project was for a gallery in Sheffield. Nick created an illustrative large piece in which allowed viewers to interact with it and colour in. Another exhibition he joined was the Pub Scrawl in Sheffield. This again allowed public engagement and was a huge success getting lots of recognition. The exhibition include 10 designers and artists. Each of their designs were for 10 different pubs.  This seemed like a really cool and fun project to be apart of.

One project, that is still in stages is for Sheffield Children s Hospital. Nick created a series of illustrations for the waiting rooms. Another project is the Picture House Social, again in Sheffield. This was a branding project, in which developed rather well. He used a font called antwerp as is reflected well on the house. This is because it was celebrating old films and music, but at the same time needs to be new fresh and appealing. The antwerp font is an old but remade type. The type began flat and boring, however, Nick was inspired by the frames of silent movies and manipulated his type in a similar way. By doing this, he could apply the same style on other material, such as advertising posters.

One thing that I noticed with Nick’s work is that his illustrations are always done in a similar style. They are simplistic, playful and incorporate detail such as half tone and scanned texture. His illustrations reminded me of my YCN Moo brief as they are quite similar to the visual identity of Moo. Therefore I think, I will include Nick within my research. Overall, I found this lecture very interesting. Nick is one of my favourite tutors and I had no idea how much work he had done, and I very much admire that he works independently.

Please visit his website and flickr at the provided links!