At Supple Studio, my design agency, we’ve recently started a fruitful relationship with the charity NSPCC. Weirdly, a few months before they got in touch I’d said to the team how much I’d love to work with a charity client with a big reach, so that we can apply our design thinking to something that will really make a difference in the world. Well, it seems ask and you shall receive.
Being a dad, it’s a dream client on so many levels – working with a household brand, doing good by doing good design and creating work for an audience you know and really care about – the kids. The other great thing is that their in-house team are really top-notch creatives; a dream team put together by their Head of Creative, Sue Hornsby who started her career at the excellent independent branding agency fivefootsix. There’s a lovely mutual respect between us and them and we really work collaboratively – with them bridging the gap between us (as an outside agency) and the internal client. We even present concepts jointly to the end client – so they support us every step of the way and know the client inside out. Three projects in, it’s one of the most enjoyable client experiences I’ve had in my career so far.
But the really fun bit is I get to sense check our work with my kids. In fact the first project we tackled for NSPCC was one my son had just fundraised for at school a couple of months before, so the experience was fresh in his mind when I showed him our new concepts for the project. I love getting the kids involved at the early stages and seeing which concepts they prefer and why. This amazes me as they often get the idea behind things as well as responded to the aesthetic stuff like illustration or colour. It’s tempting to dumb down design for kids, but they’re sharper than you think. One of our projects which is just starting to see the light of day is a rebrand of Number Day – NSPCC’s schools fundraising event focused on fun maths activities (pictured above). There was a bit of back and forth about legibility as we were proposing an illustrated type approach using maths tools. Throughout the process I got to test the options with my seven year old, Joschi in order to arrive at something that was both illustrative and legible. It was invaluable getting his little eyes on the project and he loved feeling part of the design process.
Without getting too evangelical about it – it’s truly been one of my favourite experiences as a designer. Ticking so many boxes for me that I’d quite happily design for kids all day everyday. If that happened I may have to give the kids part-time consultancy roles at my agency though…
Jamie Elull is an ex-Londoner, ex-founder of Magpie Studio and ex-vegetarian. He’s a designer who’s as passionate about being a dad as he is about his day job. He strives to balance the two and always keep the joy alive in both his ‘jobs’. He owns more vintage electric basses than he should.