As we bundle our way into *hopefully* the final act of national lockdown, we’re back with another candidate Q&A. It’s safe to say things do feel a little different this time – in a good way – but we’re still here to celebrate the amazing talent on our books, and offer some communal insight into a pretty turbulent year.
As always, this series hopes to take a candid peek behind the curtain at the realities of creative’s working lives, and offer a platform to chat through their practice.
Our first candidate of lockdown pt.2 is Josh Epstein-Richards, a 2015 graduate from the University of Brighton; a course with a rich reputation of producing some of the best. He joined culture-focused design agency UTILE in 2015, after a successful internship stint the year before, and has pretty much been there ever since, until unfortunate redundancy earlier in the year.
Over the course of 5 years at UTILE, he progressed from a squeaky-clean graduate to a senior hand, working across multiple disciplines, sectors, and clients, crafting beautiful work along the way, for the likes of Second Home, Waterworks Festival & fashion sales agency Polly King & Co.
On top of that he’s a serial side-hustler too (not that kind). Regularly contributing to Secret 7”, including this year's final exhibition, as well as co-founding 12b, a side-studio venture with long-term collaborator William Lyall.
Below Josh chats us through where it all started, from typography sketches in secondary school to his new-found life as a freelancer.
Tell us about yourself, your working experience, and your creative practice...
Graphic design was something I knew about and aspired to do from an early age, as I grew up around a very design-orientated family. I was told off at school once for drawing type rather than painting a still-life in the style of Monet, which says it all!
I’ve spent the last 5 years as a designer at UTILE, working with a wide range of clients across art, music and contemporary culture on a broad range of projects including books, motion, record sleeves, exhibitions, packaging, posters, pitch decks, websites and brand identities.
My creative practice has evolved over time — having access to processes like screen-printing, letterpress and book-binding was invaluable at university, but now I mainly create work using a computer. I also have a Risograph printer that I bought with my friend Will, which we’ve used to self-publish books and prints, and now regularly use as a tool to add a layer of tangibility to my design work through printing and scanning to generate texture that can’t be replicated via vectors.
I try to get off the computer whenever I can, whether it be taking a photograph for a project or sketching up ideas — I always have a notebook and have a big collection of books that I always refer to for inspiration.
How have you found 2020, and how has the working climate affected you?
Of course it’s been a very strange year and I certainly didn’t expect to be in the position I’m in now. I was put on furlough at the beginning of April and unfortunately made redundant at the end of July, so a quick change to freelance life begun and since then I’ve been working with friends (old and new) on some exciting projects; including Our Place’s rebrand to All Purpose and designing the new look and feel for New Look with ODD London.
For my entire working career I’ve worked full-time with a rigid day to day structure. Furlough was tough because that structure and creative output was taken away so once redundant I tried my best to jump straight back in to be as busy as possible, though I’ve learnt that as a freelancer some days can be quiet.
Have you got a daily routine in place? How have you been keeping motivated?
I think it’s important to stick to routine — my daily alarm has stayed the same throughout the year. I get up and follow my morning routine regardless of whether I have work booked for that day or not, which also allows me to be on the ball when I do have work to do. I’ll be up in front of the computer checking emails by 9am and playing music through the speakers by 9:30.
Music has always been a big motivator for me, every Friday I collate a list of new albums that I think I’ll enjoy listening to regardless of genre and share it with a few close friends so they can listen too and then we chat the following week about stand out tracks, albums we weren’t into, artwork we love etc.
Any side-projects/hobbies you’ve picked, or intend to? Ways of keeping sane?
During furlough I followed the trend of baking and got really into it — many banana breads, lemon drizzles and chocolate brownies. To balance out all the sweet treats I’ve got into running which helps clear my head — something that I’ve found really important during this year.
As for side-projects, I took part in this years Secret 7” exhibition creating artwork for the Aretha Franklin song ‘One Step Ahead’, using a photograph I took in Tokyo last year. I’m also looking at ways to share my weekly new music lists to a wider audience and create a bigger conversation — watch this space!
Looking forward, In an ideal world, what would next year look like for you, creatively?
Next year will be the busiest I’ve had and by the end of the year I’d hope to look back and reflect on some really amazing projects that have been well received by both the client and the wider design community. I want to continue pushing my craft and gain more experience working with new people in new places… Roll on 2021.
Too right. Thanks a lot Josh!
You can view Josh' website here:
His Instagram account here:
More on 12b here:
As well as his Secret 7" entry here:
Words: Joe Cooper