Creativity for Sale Podcast - Episode 1 / 2

Secrets for a fulfilling creative career - Kyle Wilkinson

Mon, 05 Feb 2024

"Success is there if you grind at it. The barriers are getting lower, and if you put the work in, you can do that.Graphic designer Kyle Wilkinson reveals his secrets to sustaining a successful creative career, from his humble publishing beginnings to launching his own art gallery.Host, Radim Malinic and Kyle's discuss his creative work, early career experiences in publishing, the importance of adaptability and confidence as a creative, and the transition from working in a studio to freelancing and starting his own studio.
 
 
  
  
Show Notes Transcript

"Success is there if you grind at it. The barriers are getting lower, and if you put the work in, you can do that.

Graphic designer Kyle Wilkinson reveals his secrets to sustaining a successful creative career, from his humble publishing beginnings to launching his own art gallery.

Host, Radim Malinic and Kyle's discuss his creative work, early career experiences in publishing, the importance of adaptability and confidence as a creative, and the transition from working in a studio to freelancing and starting his own studio.~

Kyle shares how he cultivated his own creative style through experimentation and self-initiated projects, the role of financial insecurity in taking on work, and the power of networking and word-of-mouth in getting new clients. They also talk about celebrating small wins, finding mentors and learning from peers, and how Kyle has focused on his own self-development as a lifelong learner.

 Kyle also reveals his newest creative endeavor - launching an art gallery called House of Thrills, featuring his own pop culture-inspired painting collection.

This conversation explores the patience, resilience, and continuous curiosity required to sustain a fulfilling creative career.

Key Takeaways:

  • Focus on developing core creative skills, an experimental mindset, and strong work ethic in the early stages of your career.
  • Build up a financial buffer to afford yourself the time and space to work on passion projects and creative development.
  • Self-initiated projects that showcase your unique voice can be powerful for attracting new clients and opportunities.
  • Reflect on how far you've come and celebrate small wins, instead of always focusing on what's next.
  • Surround yourself with those whose skills and mindsets complement and enhance your own abilities.


Creativity For Sale: How to start and grow a life-changing creative career and business by Radim Malinic - Out now.

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Kyle:

I made the decision to do that on my own day one. which I think I've always had that In me to do. but it is just did I have the skills? But you would never have the skills when you go off on your own. You never have them fully formed. You just need to have a little bit more of a plan than probably I did. Uh, Uh, Uh, which was, wouldn't it be a Laugh to Start studio?

Radim Malinic:

Hello and welcome to Creativity for Sale podcast, a show to help you start and grow your life changing creative career and business. My name is Radim Malinich and creativity changed my life. You see, I believe creativity can change your life too. I even wrote a book about it and it inspired this podcast. I've set out to interview the world's most brilliant creatives, designers, writers, musicians, makers and marketeers about their life changing experiences with creativity. If you ever wanted to know how people go from their humble beginnings to the pinnacle of their success, our conversation should provide you with an intimate look into triumphs, challenges and untold stories behind their creative endeavours. We also discuss the highs and lows of creative careers and creative life. So Thank you for joining me on this exploration of passion, creativity, innovation, and the boundless potential within us all. Let creativity change your life. Are you ready?

Radim:

Welcome to the first episode. For more than a decade and a half, my guest has been exploring creativity through graphic design, typography, illustration, and even product design with exceptional results. Through his commercial work, he partners with global clients, agencies on branding and strategy, delivering new brands, brand refreshes, and new ways to experience a brand. To talk about his work and his latest explorations of art and painting is my pleasure to introduce my friend Kyle Wilkinson.

Kyle:

hi

Radim:

Kyle and welcome to Creativity for Sale podcast. so I wanna start with a question, which is, do you remember your first paid piece of creative work?

Kyle:

I do, um, it would've been for an entertainments company. we luckily, uh, managed to bag, uh, one of these scare attractions. Uh, I said locally, we had to then go to the scare attraction, which were absolutely terrifying. But, um, yeah, it was for an entertainment company who put on those scare events at Halloween, and we had to create their, um, their identity for it. So quite a, a quite a fun project.

Radim:

So, so I'm picking up on the fact that that's not like a freelance piece of work, so there was a part of a studio.

Kyle:

Are you talking about full-time positions? Are you talking about work

Radim:

it's up to you. I mean, I, I remember my first freelance piece of work that I did, and I'm proud and disappointed in the.

Kyle:

Oh yeah, yeah. As we all are, I think, uh, with those, we look back, I mean, you go through those, first few years thinking, what, what the bloody hell is that? And then you look back on it after a few more years with probably a, a little bit more roast tinted glasses. Um, yeah, my first job was in publishing, I, that was the first time I earned any money from, from doing design. so I, I worked for a local, newspaper, uh, around here, doing little ads, column sized ads. Ads were measured in columns, column widths, which, dunno if that still happens in newspapers, but that were, uh, that were interesting.

Radim:

I absolutely admire that. You could do that. I once actually, when I was a bit lost, when I realized my freelancing wasn't working. So I was fishing for a job and I nearly got a job in like, sort of local, uh, advertising Gazette, and they wanted me to do tests and luckily I failed spectacularly. I couldn't design a, you know, fake ad

Kyle:

I managed to wing, wing it because, they invited me in for an interview, making out that they poached me. I went for a, for a job and they, uh, they asked me to do a testing cork. I'd never heard of Cork, didn't know what it were. I've always been an Adobe boy and I just said, yeah, I can use Cork. Never heard of it and winged it. Managed to do an ad and they offered me the job there and yeah, it were quite soul destroying to be honest, but I learned an awful lot, um, which is what you're supposed to do in them first positions, which is quite good.

Radim:

I think it's the, I think is the key of starting in a creative position and looking after your career and like looking after your fortunes and answer to every question that you've got. Absolutely no idea what the answer is. Like can you do it? Of course I can. Of course. Yeah. What is it?

Kyle:

you've gotta develop that mindset. You've gotta develop that mindset that you, can figure these things out. You've got the core skills within you. And, and main, the main skill there is the passion, the passion and drive to learn more about what, whatever the skill is that you're trying to adapt your career to. Uh, in that case it was opening cork and figuring out what the buttons did and doing a layout that you'd, an, that you, you anticipate that they will like, and then therefore give you a job. And then, but then there's many other situations, certainly in my career that I've been put in that position that you go, can you do this? And you've just gotta develop a belief and confidence, um, which is easier said than done, in, in yourself and your abilities to be able to figure it out in the end. Because by nature, this job, this career is problem solving. It's almost fitting together. Puzzles and, and, and, Piecing these bits together, you don't know the answer or you dunno the solution to any of these things that clients throw at you. and that's part of the job you've gotta get comfortable in, in that uncomfortable situation.

Radim:

I think yeah, knowing how to feel Okay. Not feeling okay. I that's the key. But yeah, I mean it's, it's amazing. I just, I wonder how universal is that sort of theme of like, how do you do this? What, what is it? Can you do this? Yes, of course. Because we think of like creative people that are sort of the unique kind of course, you know, you can't speak about surgeon. Like, can you, can you do transplant? I'll give it go.

Kyle:

No. Yeah, there's a, there's a limit to winging it. the whole fake it till you make it movement, uh, we'll call it, is taken to an extreme, to a certain degree. I think that term, whoever coined it, probably die a death, really. it's not about faking it, it's just understanding that you will inevitably come from a position of not knowing everything, but the knowledge and solutions are out there, but you've got to go and find them. you can't go into every situation knowing everything. that's that's the premise of faking it to making it, but yeah, it can't just be, I'm gonna start doing this. I'm gonna be brain surgeon, and, and off we go.

Radim:

I guess it's different that, that sort of, that quote, fake it till you make it, it kind of applies more to like creating your own luck when you're working on your own stuff. Because as soon as you get employed, you, you get, you have you sort of shoe honed by some set, set certain sets of re requirements, so you need to sort of answer to a job role. And it's, it's like when you do your own thing, it just all of a sudden like the, the freedom. To, to sort of align with, with the world is, is a lot looser and somehow actually gives us more freedom actually, I guess, I guess you would agree. Like sort to work it out because you can get a job and you can, you can fake it for a little bit. I mean, my first job, my first proper job, asked me if I can use a Mackay, this is like early two thousands. And I was a PC boy. I was like, of course I can use a Mackay and I can use Illustrator or whatever. So I was just literally on the first day of, on my first day just clicking everything. Whereas if you decide to buy a Mackay and you've never used a Mackay and you decide to know, start a creative business, no one really cares until you, until you get it wrong and you realize you need to learn a bit more, I suppose. But do you remember when you sort of give yourself, or when you got the term or your title graphic designer, do you remember how, how you felt having that title?

Kyle:

I felt great. I remember fell into this career, and at the time didn't think it was a career. Like the majority of us didn't think it would ever be a career choice or a a, a viable way of making a living. and at the time I remember thinking, this is what I do. Oh yeah, I do this. And, we get excited about things that often people. Are oblivious to, um, which is the beauty of the industry's driven on passion that a lot of people, don't see, and don't realize that all, everything around them is designed. so yeah, I think I went through a, a good period of, of time of being really excited about, called a graphic designer. or not that's changed, it probably has, as that's, but that, that's, that's shaped through, I wouldn't class myself as a graphic designer anymore. And that, that, that's, that's shifts through, your career as you move and shift into different sectors.

Radim:

I think that the, the title I remember how proud I was. I was a graphic designer three days before I was graphic designer. And I remember, I think what was the key was to, to live and breathe what you do. Because not only I was a graphic designer, I was like, I was, I had a crappy job, but graphic daytime job just to make sure that the, the cheap rent is paid. But it was the freelance stuff. Like what's got me on the journey. And, and it sounds like similar that grow into your term, like of course to a seasoned graphic designer, you just come across as an idiot. It was like, what do you mean? You've been doing it for five, you've been doing it for five minutes. How can you be a graphic designer? Whereas I can see now 20 years, 20 something years later. when you see someone like saying, I'm a, entrepreneur, or CEO I'm a founder, and whatever. it doesn't seem misaligned. You know, you're not that person, but you need to believe in yourself. Being that, and I think that blind conviction, and I think that that's helped me. I didn't suffer with imposter syndrome. I just suffered with like idiot syndrome because I was like, look, I'm here. I've got a mouse on a keyboard and a choral draw. Let me so this out, you know? And, and I remember how proud I was that, and I think that's, um, yeah, that's an interesting sort of belief because

Kyle:

I, I share it. I share it. I have a, a very strong memory of when I first landed my job and I could officially call myself a graphic designer. And I remember being in, a weather spoons of all places in Barnsley, I were walking up the stairs, to go to the bar. I'm a graphic designer, and I actually said them words to myself. It is ridiculous. Now I'm suffering from idiot syndrome myself, in that scenario. And it feel, but, I wish I could probably capture some of that excitement and just raw excitement of what's to come. I was so, so excited and, and, and proud and still am to a, uh, to a degree, but obviously that, that, that, um, that initial spark of this is a new path completely for me. Um, were, were incredibly exciting. And I, I, you know, it is a, a long time since that, uh, that moment in weather spoons. Maybe I should go back and try and relive it.

Radim:

I mean, what a fantastic moment. so how, how old were you then in weather, spoons,

Kyle:

Uh,

Radim:

yourself? A little rocky moments

Kyle:

you wanna see me? Yes. See me, ID, um, I would've been 19, I think would've been 19.

Radim:

Okay. Is that two, two days ago or two?

Kyle:

Uh, no, that would've been 15 years ago. Yeah.

Radim:

All right, so if you could see yourself, if you were standing next to yourself, your, your current self and your 19-year-old self, what would you tell yourself and what would you not tell yourself? Because, there's the things to look out and things that you need to make the mistakes you need to make get

Kyle:

through it. Hmm. Yeah, it's difficult to look back because, you know, I wouldn't, the career that I've had so far has been, has been, ve has been exactly what I wanted to a certain degree. But the, I think the major point that I would, would tell myself, is to slow down, be more patient with my approach. that bullish approach has, has taken me, accelerated my career. But I think I ended up starting a studio at 23, and effectively became creative director. Uh, we built a team and that, I always look back on it and think that that might have been a little too young to do that. I lost out on many other years of working in other studios to gain experience to I. Learn the ropes really, which I don't ever feel like I ever did, in how it should be done now. That's a positive and, and a negative because I've never learned bad traits of how other studios or agencies would do something. But I've had to, uh, learn by a lot of failures and hit in the side of the barriers, just like you do when you're bowling, bouncing off them to try and forge a career and forge a way of doing things. And I just, yeah, I think at that time, certainly back then, I had a drive to try and succeed like, like I do think most do. Um, just putting the bricks on at that young age to, to try and develop some of the more core, core principles and foundations of, of this career as to what I wouldn't say. Is, I say?

Radim:

Would you say something like, would you, would you tell yourself to look out for something or mean,'cause you said obviously like you're happy with how you've, where you've gone maybe a bit too fast, but would you ever say, you know what, don't do that that that might not be

Kyle:

I don't think I'd ever have any regret over the choices that I made. nothing that I've done majorly that maybe, maybe hold on to a, a few of the earlier positions. I think maybe that is something, but that's something I would tell myself to, to change is the earlier jobs that I had that that kind of formed the earlier parts of my skillset. as I mentioned, I worked in publishing and I worked there for a good few years and. The situation was, I wasn't really aware of the career that we have now, the sector, the branding world, the world that we have. I, I've, I once opened a, my old boss brought in a, computer arts magazine and it opened my eyes to these to being an independent designer and having you work on these pages and being able to design the front cover of magazines and being able to do all these kind of different projects that are out there in the world. I thought I were gonna work in publishing for the majority of my career, then. So maybe, maybe if I could change anything, it'd be at that point, um, I moved into a different studio or a studio, studio environment because I haven't actually ever worked for a, for another studio, or agency. I cut my teeth in publishing and then decided I wanted to work independently.

Radim:

I think everyone's got this journey when they get asked what would you do differently? And I think our, our, our stories, our narratives are so unique that you can tell yourself, you know, I wish I, I worked for somebody else, but you could have spent easily many years working with people that don't have it. Exactly right. From our career choices, sometimes we tell ourselves we wish we had, we did something differently or, you emulate someone else's narrative. But from what you described, like wishing that you worked for other studios and learned from somebody else., I can know personally, my, my testament is that I worked for people who didn't really care, you know, and that was my, my kick up the eyes and I could, if anything, I got to see how not to do things, if that makes sense. Like what to avoid. And, yeah, sometimes you have to sort of unlearn and undo and unsee things that you don't necessarily want to, to carry forward. And I quite admired it, you know, being sort of creative director at 23. That must have been well, exciting. I think you should do, I'm, I'm sure you've gone back to Wetherspoons and, and went like, oh, I'm a creative director now. Cause you carry yourself differently obviously.'cause I remember how proud as Punch I was and, but with that journey, I mean yeah, quite young and, and there's a great, uh, Patrick Kilty clip and he says that he was trying to, he was gunning for, to do a talk show in America and apparently he gave his tape to, David Leatherman's, uh, agent, and he said, great tape kid. Come back in 15 years when, you know, when you've lived a little, we'll make a talk show. And I feel like what you described with the Computer Ads magazine and that kind of stuff, it felt there, there was a lot of work done, but it felt more scaled down. Like the channels and information were a bit more unified and, and a bit more sort of clearer. And I think when you, when you wanted, like, when you wanted to be featured, you actually had to push yourself a little. Like you actually had to Fill a criteria. And I think that was pretty much everyone's little battle on, you know, let's get me in Creative computer ads or digital ads or, or advanced Photoshop. I mean, I, I remember how those magazines were like the distillery of like, okay, this is what's happening now. And if you made it, you were like, oh my God, this is actually something that is no for the right reason. I, I didn't, I didn't see those guys as gatekeepers, but they're the quality controllers. Whereas I guess now you can plunk anything out on the internet and hope that, you know, you're the superstar of tomorrow. And I think that's, that's quite an interesting thing. So I'm with you on, on, on computer ads, that that kind of, I found those pieces of puzzle kind of unlocked. It was like, oh, that's what I can do with what I'm trying to do. This is a direction. it was exciting

Kyle:

times. I owe a huge debt to it, really that, That opened my eyes to a different career path and, and pushed me. Like I said, I was quite content at the level I was because I thought I'd, I were working for the best, like paper in the area. Like I, I was at the top of the tree. but forest that I was looking at wasn't, you know, a forest. when it, when I discovered the breadth of work that was available to do in that, it, it pushed me then to get better and learn and then pushed me ultimately to, wasn't ever gonna be my, career in publishing it, it, I needed to, to get out and see things bigger and really attack it. And to do that, I, I made the decision to do that on my own from day one. which I think I've always had that In me to do. but like I say, it is just did I have the skills? But you would never have the skills when you go off on your own. You never have them fully formed. You just need to have a little bit more of a plan than probably I did. Uh, which was, wouldn't it be a Laugh to Start studio? it, that was the plan. Uh.

Radim:

that sounds like a brilliant case study. Like a business case study. Like how did you start a studio? Wouldn't it be laugh if you started studio?

Kyle:

it would, yeah. And, and the first day in the studio, we, me and my best friend started it and we, sat there and drank cider, did a little bit of work and that were about it. But then, we pushed forward. We took, we just put as heart and soul into it. and then, fast forward a couple of years, we ended up doing that full c lovely full circle moment where, I think we ended up designing, uh, a couple of the computer arts covers and know we designed two at least. Um, and then got featured in the, the magazine quite a few times, which, you know, for that to, for, for it to be the catalyst of change in my career, to then be in that, were a, a big moment for me, like a proud moment. we're another weather spoons moment,

Radim:

barnsley Pepper Spoons is the As the is the Theater fantastic. I think everyone is to, I mean, but I think what you highlight today, or what you sort of mentioned is celebrating the little wins. because I don't know about you, but they, life is moving faster. You know, like you, you, I, I, I don't know. I, from the conversations when I speak to students now, like everyone lives in this sort of steroid charged turboed world where you're expected to be someone of something pretty quickly, or at least that's how the sort of, how, how, how we are aligned. And I mean, we had a sort of a chance of actually taking it easy and we slightly just anonymous in a way you can create work and fail in, in, in a, I can't pronounce it. And that's the best bit about this. quietly, you know, no one would've know anonymously. And yeah, I think just having everything out there in the open and sort of fishing for likes and fishing for, you know, for, for recognition and acceptance must be quite hard. Anyone who's listening to this now, I mean, should Pause back, you know, it's just be, be be honest with your craft because it's coming, cause looking back at your career, obviously 15 years, you kind of got into a deep end with people that you ultimately, you, you left the studio like I was, I got dissolved. Right. And you went on your own. Sometimes people freelance and they start a studio and sometimes, you know, people go on your, on their own and join a, join in a position. So now you run Carl Wilkinson studio. So that's very much you, the creative, not, not, not only by default, but by name. you have, this is your business. And yeah, I mean, for example, I, I never had a studio for my partners. I never had a studio partner. I worked for a couple of companies, not even agencies. And I worked for those. And I kind of went on a mission of just working it out on my own. Kind of like, okay, what'd you do next? How would you do that thing? And you kind of build your armory and build your toolkit. So when it comes to sort of starting on your own, you didn't start a studio straightaway, is that right? You went freelance

Kyle:

first. no, it's a well picked up. What I could, so just for a bit of context, studio that I started, we had, five directors of, and then, we initially had two and then we brought other people, well, we merged with another company and then brought, built the team. Fast forward six years, of building that. The, a couple of the directors just didn't want to do it anymore. wanted to do, to do other things and in other sectors. in business. We dissolved the company and disbanded, and I was doing the thing that I wanted to do, which was the biggest disappointment for me is that I were doing it, doing exactly what I wanted to do with some of my closest friends who, who were still close friends now. And so I, I had the dream and it hit me a little bit where, what am I gonna do? And I just thought, well, we're gonna do it again, but this time it's just gonna be me. And hence why I put it under my own name is that I'd bet I'd spent six years building an equity up in a, in a different name of a studio, and then that kind of went overnight. Your career throws you these curve balls. I never predicted that. and sometimes these curve balls come along in your career that you've just got to again, adapt to, which sometimes that just does take a bit of a steeler resolve and a bit of a head down moment and, and just a grit, that'll get you through and building that resilience. Um, so a lot of people talk about a thick skin in this career, but it's more about building resilience to any curve ball that comes your way. It's not about taking criticism on your work that's natural, that'll come your way, that that's always gonna be a part of this career. But it's more about building a resilience in yourself and a, and a self-belief that you can push forward. So. I, I took KWS forward with just myself in the intention of trying to replicate some of the success and some of the things that we'd done, but maybe learning from some of the mistakes that we'd made in the previous six years, um, and really trying to continue my career as, as it, as it was going.

Radim:

did you feel like sort of identity. Sort of not crisis, but identity shake obviously when you've gone from like a five man sort of multi personal studio to on your own and as you said, I mean, un unlike others, you were doing what you were enjoying and others were not. I mean that must have, I mean, yeah, resilience is the right word because we, we feel that, everyone tells themselves that everything should be easy in life, but if everything easy was, if everything was easy in life, it would never, you go back for the same thing twice because it'd be far too easy. But, mean, I remember like what you had and, and this is what sort of leads me to the next question. I, I felt like you always had a sort of signature style. I knew that even though'cause at, at that time I remember you loss of typography and sort of typography that pieces. It had style and I think it kind of was interesting'cause you were In, in sort of Barnsley as, as opposed to, London centric, uh, sort of zone and you were creating work, pieces of work that were literally, in my opinion, like actually shaking the narrative because you didn't feel, I guess only you should tell me if that's correct, if I see, if I see if I seen it correctly, but it was like, let's have a go. Like, I'm gonna create pieces like this. I mean, you had advantage working with laser cutters and creating stuff that came out of Gates, which must've been quite a big conversation, Tom.'cause you know, like, I think they were good. And obviously I remember your exhibitions. They were, they were amazing too. So, you ever, ever sort of aware of the fact that you were building like a sort of personal brand of creativity or like a brand of, of creativity? How, was it conscious or was it, was it, did you, did you feel like you, you wanted to step out of like from what others were doing? Or was it conscious or unconscious? How did you do it?

Kyle:

un unconscious to start with. Really, it was just the drive and probably an insecurity as well, that you are deep rooted insecurity where you're wanting to try and prove yourself by creating different things. So if I create something different that gets talked about, then that's giving me a little more validation that will, that's it would completely unconscious. but that looking, reflecting back, maybe that was, element or a driving force, but really it was, And the studio still, my approach now is still to try and be experimental and, and, and have some fun and, and, you know, have some fun. Is, is banded around. It's not just turning up to work and everything's all rainbows. It's bloody hard work. trying to do things that have not been done before, attempting it anyway. And so, we got quite a bit of coverage at times and then one work off the back of it from just doing things that others weren't. and, you know, having an aesthetic that was a little more unusual. you know, some of the work now that's, that's kind of in vogue right now is some of the work that we were doing probably seven years ago. Which is frustrating'cause you could probably get more money for it now. Um, but it's, you know, we did, we, we just did it purely from a, let's see, let's push ourselves to see how weird and wonderful, uh, of a thing that we can create. And that wasn't just restricted to, uh, graphic design. So you mentioned a laser cut in there and, we designed furniture and, the chairs were one of those, the things that led onto paid projects. Uh, when we designed two different chairs, ended up designing the brand impact awards, uh, trophies through as a result of that. So it kind of came back into our sector of what we knew in the traditional branding and graphics sector.

Radim:

yeah, I, I think you would agree. I mean, it's, been great following your journey. I mean, I, I've seen it, I. Pretty much from its inception, from a studio when you went on your own. And it's amazing, I think, again, you, when you speak to newcomers and students and they're like, what advice would you give? You know, like, and it's usually like, there's, there's a few questions that always come up. Like, what advice would you give to get started? And you know, how to get work and how to get seen, how to get noticed. And the thing is the same. It's like, the same is the same advice as how do you run a marathon? You know? So first you buy shoes, then you get yourself outside, then you walk the mile, then you run the mile, you know, and it's just, it's just, it's a gradual process and it's, it's just a bit by bit. Um, how, how good do you reckon we are actually in, in taking up advice? Like, did you have any mentors in your, in your career or did you have anyone sort of Oh, like that you looked up to that would give you, um, steer.

Kyle:

the people that I started the studio with originally, the, the four other guys, uh, the, uh, were the, the mentors and the inspiration behind, pushing us forward because we all had individual facets and skills that, that brought something to the table. And a, and a broad age age range as well. We had some older guys in there that, really knew what they were talking about and had been about the block. So it's, it's more taking inspiration from those around you, surrounding yourself with people around you, that could be your peers within the, within the creative sector or your, your friends and family that might just encourage you to, to try, and push forward. It is what, take what you can from those that you admire, but don't Forget to listen to yourself as well, and really chase what, what other somebody else's dream or life experiences is not necessarily relevant to yours. get on your own pitch and play your own game be patient.

Radim:

I think it sounds like, I mean, I know you said that you wish that you worked for other studios at the beginning, but it sounds like you worked with the right people to show you the things that were complimentary skills to yourself, because you may have ended up in a studio with other designers doing other design things, and around that time, I feel like we just getting to understand how we should be doing the work because, I mean, let's be honest, like drink cider and, and doing a little bit of work was what, what most studios did at the time. I mean, I know people in London who literally spent the first 10 years in a pub kind of just making, making a cheap rent and that that's what they did, but.

Kyle:

I think that that's the thing is I put myself and continue to put myself in a position that it's of necessity to grow or to develop those skills. I look at, I look back and say, you know, that's the one thing that maybe I would've acquired different things, so I would've learned more. But at the same time, I probably learned more from not knowing and having to know and being driven to, if this fails, then it's not on anybody else. It's on me. And, and that's, you know, I learned that from an early age and put myself in that situation. that's not for everybody. Um, that's what I did and that's what allowed me to grow, into it and educate myself further at a, a much greater speed. And I encourage it because it just, it does build that resilience. It's not easy, it's not always fun, by no means, but it's, it's Being uncomfortable is, is the fastest way to the, to, to, to growth. and I think if, if I'd gone maybe into a position that I were enjoying more the lifestyle of working in a studio rather than the head down, getting the work done and focusing on the career side of it, you'd probably get a little bit more comfortable and maybe stay in those positions for a few more years than you should, especially if your ambition is to, to, to start something of your own

Radim:

Yeah, I think, I mean, it's interesting when you said being uncomfortable you to make the progress. And that doesn't always sound like what you want to do, you said you're gonna go on your own, you're gonna do these things and, and most of them won't feel nice. And I remember making notes for creativity, for sale, for the book, what I was writing. And initially I wanted to write in like a comedy show. It's like, Hey, you know, this is fun and this is what happens. And this, and the more I was peeling the layers of memories and notes and stuff, and looking back and looking at, you know, past clients and work, you know, learning how to sell, how to look after as a, as a sort of an immigrant and a and a and i a second sort of, I'm speaking English as a second language, which is evidently clear right now. it, it can feel really, really daunting. And I remember as I said, peeling this, these layers and I was like, actually, wait a minute. Most of the memories are negative memories. I like most of this is like eating scraps, like going through the mud knee deep, you know, going, is this any good? Like, but when you are in it, you don't necessarily notice when you look back. You only remember like, okay, well I've got a, a bit of portfolio I can show for this so I can, you know, I've got experience, then I can fall back on it. You don't always, the negatives stick out better, more than the positives, but they're necessary. And I mean, yeah, as you said, like you can be in the studio and stay there for a little bit longer just because you're doing the work. And I find with the studio work, and, and this is, this is my personal experience and I'm trying to find something that will, uh, prove me wrong, is that in a studio, you don't always get people who necessarily want you to be good, like didn't want you to grow. Like you, you can join a studio and hope that people will look after your career path. Whereas running the studio as, you know, yourself, it's you, you, you, like, you, you're happy that you've got some time with your kids and you paid all the bills. You keep no show show on the road. And I think, has anyone have you, like how, how was your. This is the longest segue ever, by the way. How is your pathway from thinking about employment and going to your self-development? How did you look after your self-development? What was your drive and what was your source of inspiration and, and

Kyle:

learnings So for my own self-development, is, is just that constant curiosity. I am blessed with quite a lot of energy. Um, so I use that time as much as possible to try and, try and learn or not pigeonhole myself as, right, I've done this for one project, I'm gonna do this again for another project, and then inevitably you end up doing that again and again and again. Always try to come at it from a different perspective. Another big inspiration for that though is the mortgage. you know, you've gotta stay ahead of it and, and you can't really pretend otherwise that you put yourself in a position where you have to make this work and then, then that will naturally push you forward. Sink or swim moments that that, that you, you must try and get yourself in. but strategically try and put yourself in as well. If you're in a, if you are in a studio now working, don't just try and get your head down doing the work. Focus on how you can, I've always tried to try learn from other people as much as I can, no matter what. What career they're in. So if you are in a studio now, a lot of people on client serv, uh, a lot of the creative uh, teams hate client services, uh, because they often tell them what to do. They often tell them how to deliver a brief learn from them that could be learning not how to do it or learn, try and see the skills that the client services team are bringing to the table'cause they have a job for a reason. rather than try, like keeping your distance away from them, which is easy, easy done, try and learn from them. Even though it's a completely different skillset that's some relatable to your current position. You don't know what you can take from them people to then what will then actively help you start your own studio business. And it's looking, it's always trying to see what others are doing and learning from them. Because you don't know everything. I don't know everything. You will never know everything. But there's often, you know, if you have that network there that you can feed off or ask or discuss. Or just try and learn from, observe people and not, and that doesn't just mean other designers within, within the world. It's, you know, if you just look at the same design blogs, if you just look at the same things on Pinterest, it's this, inevitably the output will be very similar. Just, uh, just as much as if you try and learn from the same people. The, you're gonna learn the same things, which you probably will already know. It's just more building your confidence and trust in your own voice. From a design perspective, how can you then develop your creative career? Look elsewhere.

Radim:

You mentioned a motivator, which we have a same motivator in our, in our life, which is the mortgage, the fear of the mortgage, fear of the bank. Um, I read a book by Jimmy Carr that he was lucky that he didn't buy a house at 25 because he just did what he did. He, he was in sort of, you know, he left his job and did what he did, and it, it could, it could be more fluid. I, I think he moved back with his mom, or, I mean, I might have it all wrong, but, um, he, he, yeah, he decided not to, uh, to get chained down. Obviously I'm, I'm sure name's got more than a mortgage now. Um, but sometimes the insecurity, the financial insecurity makes us Take on jobs that we shouldn't work on. Is that right? have you ever taken jobs because of the money and did it go well

Kyle:

Yes and no. we all, we all will take those jobs. It's just try, try and avoid them where possible. Um, but it's easy to say that, isn't it? It's if you're in a situation where you don't, afford yourself, you can't afford it, then you must take the job. But what you've got to realize is that you've got to afford yourself the space to develop your career. So that's not necessarily filling your time with pretending to be busy or looking to be busy just to pay the bills. If you can give yourself some space and time through a financial buffer, through saving or not buying the latest bit of crap that you don't inevitably need, A lot of people at the minute are driven by, you know, everybody wants a Rolex these days. Everybody's driven by buying all these shiny things. Don't buy them. Invest in your career. Invest, give yourself that, afford yourself that time and luxury, um, to be able to develop the things that you want to so that you'll inevitably start working on the things, uh, that you want to, to pay the bills rather than just taking money jobs. And then in turn, you will be far, far, far more happier, in life day to day than just look at the shiny thing I've got in the car park or on my wrist or on. It's not to say, don't go and chase your dreams. If you really want something, go and get it. But make sure you understand why you're buying it. And if it's to impress others, then it's often a bad buy. then that will fuel you to unha your unhappiness by taking jobs, uh, that you don't necessarily need. And I know I appreciate that people don't just take jobs the money just to buy a Rolex, it's obviously to get by. Uh, that shouldn't be frowned upon, but it's just trying to avoid it where possible. Um, I do it and will inevitably do it in the future at some point as well. it's just, it's, it's learning from it, trying to avoid it. Where possible

Radim:

I mean, I don't know who you hang out with, but the Rolex crew sounds interesting. they,

Kyle:

me's a Rolex. It's like everybody's got a Rolex. Yeah,

Radim:

Yeah, I don't know anyone like that, which is interesting. so with your identity, like we, we, we touched on it earlier with a personal brand or like a studio brand. Obviously we, with the design industry, we are quite guilty of not pr practicing what we preach. You know, we, uh, you know, the, the, the, the rif uh, type in the top left of our website. sort of substitute as a logo. But, do you as a, in the way of getting clients, because I mean there's, there's these golden billion dollar questions, you know, how do you get clients and how No, what does everyone charge? did you ever sort of make, obviously physically you have done with, you know, your chairs and your, your, your furniture stuff, which was, in my opinion, very much the, the best promotional work you can do because you don't need a Exactly. A shiny business card.'cause you can just block a chair in the middle of the room and says, here I am, I've arrived. how do you, and if you do like, promote the studio, obviously, what would you do to attract a new clients? Like what, where do you, how do you try to set your own voice in the narrative of what's out there?

Kyle:

I think the often overlooked one is looking at your network of people that you already know and trying to tap them up and see and say, I'm looking to expand the business. I'm looking to, acquire some new clients in this sector. Uh, you know anybody who's looking? And that's a, a one that's often overlooked is looking at your own network, um, that you should try and lean on a little more. talk to the people and they'll inevitably know somebody that's maybe mentioned something in the pub or while around at their house that they will then put you in front of. Word of mouth is very, very, still very strong in this, in this business. so lean on your network. But really self-initiated projects are often, I know both of us have, have had the, the benefit of doing self-initiated projects and, and having success from them. And it will always be the thing that Tends to gather more work or more exposure on an eyes on your work, purely because you will put everything into it because you have free reign, you have that passion for it, and you will stay up and do the late nights and early mornings on something that you, you put your heart and soul into. So I think that that self-initiated work is make it don't half-assed it, make it the best thing that you've done, and try and do something that's that's not been done before. Or try and develop something that truly expresses what you want to work on. Um, in my case with the chairs, obviously wasn't intended to really get the job of chief chair designer anywhere, uh, if that exists anywhere. it were more just to demonstrate when we, when I say The studio thinks differently and takes a different approach. We can back that up by, we've done this and we've done that, which is not necessarily applicable to your project, but we will bring a different think into your project and we can show that because with just words. Oh, why, why should we work with you? Well, we, we approach things differently. It's just words. It's just, uh, back it up to try and craft your brand, whatever that is, whatever it is that you're into. Focus on those things that, that really bring the joy and passion in, in your career and life. And then back it up, create the projects that will back it up that doesn't necessarily need money, um, that just needs, uh, creativity. Often the best projects are, are through, uh, a lack of budget. It's not'cause the, the, they, you have to think more creatively around them and the end products. Uh, it's not just typical Yorkshireman saying it's not about the money like, but it's about the ideas.

Radim:

I have to say, I mean, I fully agree with you. I have to say that a self initiated project and, and, and showing work, per se, it's, it's. It's ultimately the tool that, that will amplify your voice without you needing to say too much about it. Because you can, you can, yeah, you can be in a verbal pitch and, do your no mission statement or brand statement or, you know, elevator pitch and people can be intrigued, but what will make them pull the trigger? Actually getting you on board is actually proof of your, of your previous work. And I am, I'm, I'm, I'm now being on the other side of actually commissioning people. I'm not like, after many years as an illustrator and, and, and designer. Now I commission people and I totally understand the pattern. Like, oh, I, I like what you created there'cause you made me feel something. There's something in your work that I would like to not necessarily replicate with the work, but the feeling, you know, like your, your thinking, like where can we go with it further? And yeah, the advice of, of, of personal projects is it's, you will never get a bigger scope and freedom in actually expressing yourself if you treated like a, like a alignment of a, of a commercial project because Lots of people I've, seen, have, have heard, uh, unspoken to. They, I think the, the, the empty constraints are the open constraints. What the lack of constraints, shall I say, make it difficult for them to say like, oh, what shall I do? And I, I've, I've be, I just came back from Canada, uh, just a few days ago from a, from a conference and somebody said, I believe there's a book in me, but I don't know what it's about, what it's gonna come to you like. You know, it's, it's, it's wanting to, to, to go into this conversation on, okay, there is something there, but I dunno what it's about. And it takes years sometimes to actually realize what is your true expression? What is your true, you know, a, a a meaning or what was the true feeling that you're trying to evoke in people? Because it takes years to actually get there, because you can be emulating people left, right, and center and actually just be replicating, which is fine, as we know, like musicians, you know, start playing covers by Jimi Hendrix or whoever like that. That's how you get your, you know, your, your finessing. But, but I think. So getting started, I mean, if it feels right, I mean, if you feel like you're gonna do it till three o'clock in the morning, that is, that means you're doing something right. That's your flow state. That's, that's, that's something, and I don't think there's ever sort of chance in and, and pushing it, like, okay, I need to push out or some, some pieces just, just to be there. So, um, yeah, you, you, you're, I think your personal and sort of self initiated work was great. And, from your, from your studio, that seems to be quite established now and it's, it's going strong. you've been working on your own personal projects, again, a, as a painter out of all disciplines.

Kyle:

Yeah. That were the next thing that, I'd not tackled. I wanted to, I wanted to paint, uh, and it came through, I, I did it as a bit more of a, A hobby. I often find that these, you get stuck doing a lot of work because this job naturally is more on the hobby side of, uh, it becomes part of your life. So your hobbies in are often involved, involve the creative sector. So you might want to go to galleries or go go to the, you know, put yourself in creative spaces, whether that's the theater, going to see films and you often, uh, end up talking about typefaces, how something's lit and so on. so I wanted to try and do something that found was more relaxing. And something that were, a breakaway, but that were closely linked. Uh, so I started painting, uh, and started making, art and quickly the hobby side of it went out of the window and I wanted to build it into, uh, an addition to my career path. that's why I'm wanting to, I get frustrated sometimes that the accessibility to some things in the north is not as good as it is in the South. So some of the things that I would want to see in a gallery, I don't often get the opportunity to, because I'm up here, And that annoys me. so my next thing, uh, what I'm wanting to do is open a gallery, up here. and hence I've started painting, I want to a, fill it with my work, then fill it with others as well in, in time when I figure out how to do that, I've no experience or idea what I'm doing, so I'm trying to apply the same things that I've talked about with, starting a studio to pushing into a, a completely, uh, different facet of the creative sector, um, see where that might take me. so, and I'm launching, my first, public exhibition over the next couple of months. so yeah, it's exciting. It's a new beginning.

Radim:

I mean, is this, is this the world exclusive to be told that you are planning to start a gallery? I mean

Kyle:

yeah,

Radim:

I mean, that's, brilliant news.

Kyle:

yeah, it is. It's, it's one of the things that, um, that, that is, that's the intent behind it now, is that I've, I've found that I, I really enjoy it, creating the work and I see it as another extension of what, what I do for, for clients, but I'm trying to almost, I think this is, this is one thing from, from my career ambition, is I build these brands for other companies. Uh, I build brands for other people. I want to build my own. and that's, that's kind of the intent to provide a gallery space that would be, uh, less pretentious. that's a little bit more accessible to all, uh, something that's a little bit more fun for me. Art should be fun. It seems to be taken, it is a serious thing, but it, I think it becomes a. There's barriers there through people getting asked, how does it make you feel? Now art can evoke emotions and it can do all that, but sometimes you can just enjoy it. Sometimes you can just have something on your wall that you got. I love that, and I absolutely adore it, and it's one of my favorite things that I earn, or it's the favorite thing that I've looked at this month, and you can just go and visit it. And it should just be as, it can be as simple as that. And I want to create something that's a little bit more of an experience and a bit more fun, somebody visiting some, uh, visiting the gallery. Um, so that's the intent. Yeah. So, don't think I've said that to anybody. So yeah, this is the world exclusive,

Radim:

I mean, dude, I absolutely love your idea. Honestly, the, the, philosophy behind it because Getting into galleries. Like it's, it's a gate kept world, you know, like it's pretty much, if you dunno, people, I, I, I mean I, I speak from tiny spec of a personal experience when, you know, we were all producing digital illustrations and there were sort of places popping up and selling limited edition prints and, you know, the saturation. I just, I just look at it from, let's say, from like the book perspective model, like know from, from the books, bookshelf model, bookshop model where you wish that everyone self, self-published could just put a book on in Waterstones on the shelf, but that Waterstones would, would be bigger than the whole high street. You know, because there's, there's a level, there's a reason why people, but quality controllers, you know, like who would you bring to your gallery? Like do you have a space? So I can understand the traditional model, but, people chance to be seen and kind of just getting like that, that little sort of leg up in the industry or leg up in, in visibility is sometimes something that can make people make or break their career specialists usually should help them, you know, because. it's, it's an interestingly, like we, we have a fewer gatekeepers for so many things. You know, your, proof of like starting a gallery, starting painting, doing things, would you like putting them online, being seen, being sold? haven't at this till this point, you have actually needed a gallery to, to, to be there to sell your work. Like Mr. You, we have, we have bypassed, you know, all of that. But it takes us back to, to, to the element of like, okay. Do we need to create traditional experience as you, as you, as you mentioned yourself? Like do we, that's where the people are known to, to, to sort of, and sort of enter this, this, this point of experience. So, I mean, I think it's a fantastic idea and I, I, I've tried in the past have a gallery show with like ambitious gallery show with like headphones and playing music, my music sort of visuals based on the music and And I've haven't, I haven't felt imposter syndrome many times in my life. As I said, idio syndrome was definitely a lot more prevalent, but you kind of, you brush in, against the society or a layer of society that you don't necessarily know and how they think and how they appreciate things. And I think that that cross pollination is not extremely important because we learn from one another, but it can also feel daunting because why would they need to listen to us and why would we need listen? Would we need to listen to them in a way? So as you know, I'm a big believer and, and know, creating your reality, inventing your own dream future and going, you know, that, that's the plan. so in terms of your painting, I mean, it was great to hear that you said that's your sort of therapeutic stuff because. Again, like when you're trying to find your outlets, you know, when you try to do things and you're like, okay, the university is telling me I should be doing X, Y, Z. Whereas you pick up a brush and, and one thing leads to another. So, what's the plan for the collection? Have you looking at a brilliant piece behind you? Um, what's the plan with the collection and kind of where did you develop that aesthetic? Because you seem like, to the world of online, you seem like you've invent, like you've, you've stumbled across the aesthetic pretty much straight away.

Kyle:

no, it took a while. no, so, so I always, I've wanted to do a portrait series for quite some time. so the initial, collection that we're launching at, uh. Uh, Santander's new headquarters in Milton Keynes, is called Pop Cult. And so it's more about how we are still fixated. Our gaze is still fixated on these 20th century pop culture icons, uh, such as Y Audrey Hepburn year, um, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis. And a lot of people now, going through have not seen some of these films that Audrey Hepburn might be in. They don't know an awful lot about them, but we still hold them on the pedestal of, a, an icon and they thrill us and they, they, uh, we love them, for whatever it is that they did. so the first, uh, gallery show is gonna be seven new originals. and one of them is gonna be a volunteering, uh, one of them is a volunteering, should I say. And, uh, did that. I've did that just so that he worked at Ley Park, for, on the Codebreakers in World War ii, which is, right for the area. So I wanted to do this, uh, aesthetic where they, you know, do we really know them? The faces shift slightly as the, as the repeated. Um, and, and it is, is my take on Pop-up. so I've, I've created this concept called Pop Cult, is gonna be the first collection. And then we've got the second show lined up already for next year, which is more, based around social media, is gonna be interesting. Uh, but I'll, I'll leave that, a bit of a teaser. but the, the aesthetic, uh, for, on this, uh, they, they took quite a while to develop. that came through me experimenting in the studio. So it was, I don't know what I'm doing. And that gives you that. Youthful kind of, ignorance to any of the techniques or ways that you would do something, a traditional, how would you pick up and paint this? Well, I'm gonna figure out how I do it. What's my process of making these things? and that, often is born through those new beginnings where you don't, don't know what you're doing. Um, and that's why I often put myself in those situations'cause it pushes your work forward where you have to figure it out. You have to figure a solution out. And that has been the thread that goes throughout the whole studio's, uh, work over the years. And that's why we've done some, some things that are, people, Tend to like, which is nice, but the, the aesthetic, yeah, by, by no means it's no overnight success. It's took, there's been a lot of time planning this, probably 18 months, maybe two years of trying to just come up with the concepts. So the, the gallery and the, the, the stores called House of Thrills. so we, I don't wanna go under a pretentious, this gallery name, it's just House of Thrills. And these things are gonna be exciting and they're gonna be something that's a little bit more fun and different, your walls and for sculptures that'll sit in your homes. And that concept and the brand and the whole thing has took a long time to develop. So yeah, by no means it's an overnight success. And, I pitched it to, a client. didn't just rock up and, uh, get it into Santander's headquarters. Uh, pitched it and, know, it was, we saw an opportunity to get, um, to get there in their new building that they're opening. And, uh, yeah, thankfully we got awful lot of look, getting in there. So I'm excited to launch them there. It's gonna be good. So

Radim:

if you were to see yourself again at Weber Spoons in your niner age 19, I guess from this conversation I picked up on quite a few adjectives or quite a few sort of traits and qualities that you have to sort of, you know, talked about resilience, talk about patience, talk about, you know, drive, isn't it quite sometimes interesting when you, when you look back and like, I wouldn't know how the story unfold. I wouldn't know like, where I'm going from this, you know, I, passionally, I never thought I would be writing anything let alone making the books out of it. But from, from everything that you had to learn, what did you not expect to needing to learn the most and what you glad that you learned the most too? So like, what did you needed to learn and what, what you glad that you could do more of?

Kyle:

The thing I've already touched upon is, patience and reflection. Giving yourself the credit. Sometimes I find that very difficult to do. I find that you, you talked about celebrating those little wins. learning to do that sometimes is key because we're, I think we're susceptible to it in this industry just'cause we often think about The ideas of tomorrow, the things that we dream up for as clients are often thinking about the next things that's coming down the line. And we don't sit in, in the now, we live in the tomorrow, which is part of, it's the beauty of this career, but sometimes just pausing and seeing how far you've come from those, from 19-year-old, me learning, all about this industry and whether, and going on that big discovery that people think, use the word journey too much and the word discovery too much, but reflecting back on those years sometimes, uh, is a heal

  

Radim Malinic

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