Tom Darracott interview

London creative director Tom Darracott takes a moment with us to discuss his process, his university experience and what it means to be a graphic designer today.

Interview by Julian Hutton 
Published November 2013

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i., v., vi. The Vinyl Factory, 2008
ii.  Biennale Way iOS app, 2012
iii. Book cover design and illustration for Granta, 2011
iv. Film for Wallpaper* Magazine's Design Awards, 2013
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Nike 1948 magazine iPad app, 2012
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Big Beasts, 2009

All images © Tom Darracott 2013

 

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Are you originally from London?

No, my hometown is Brighton on the south coast. It’s only an hour on the train from London, so it was always pretty familiar to me here.

How do you find living and working in London?

Living and working in London is a bit of a no-brainer really. Most of my work clients and friends are here, so it suits me well. It is, of course, expensive and overcrowded but London has that certain something that you always miss when you are away from it.

How did you first come across graphic design?

I loved drawing and comic books as a kid and in school I always really enjoyed art. I really liked all kinds of signage and lettering even before I knew what typography or design was. As I got older and heard about this career called graphic design it seemed like a good fit.

"...there was a massive disconnect between graphic design taught in university and graphic design as a job."


How was your university experience?

Slightly mixed – I had a good time and made some good friends but the teaching and program was wildly impractical for preparing you for a job in the industry. It might be different these days but there was a massive disconnect between graphic design taught in university and graphic design as a job.

You originally worked for Village Green. How did that job come about?

I was an intern and then junior designer, then moved up through the ranks to senior. Right place, right time!

What made you decide you would leave Village Green and start up your own practice?

Just fancied a change of scene and a new challenge. Felt like a natural step and the logical progression, and I was interested to see what would happen.

You have a strong aesthetic that feels somewhat surrealist. How would you describe your work?

I guess I always try to create work that isn't too fussy or overworked. I like stuff to have that rawness and slight ugliness to it. I read something a while back that always sticks in mind: ‘Urgent – Concise’, which I think is a good mantra.

Can you run us through your process of starting a new project?

Varies from project to project but usually a meeting with the client and then research, initial ideas and then through to doing the work. Nothing too revolutionary in my working process!

"It’s reached the point where the term graphic designer doesn't really apply to what I actually do for a living!"


You recently completed a film for Wallpaper* Magazine Design Awards 2013. Has film always been something that's interested you?

Yeah I do like motion work. It’s something I'll probably focus on more and more.

I've noticed a common element of fashion in your work. Is fashion important to you?

I do have an interest in fashion. It has that inherent glamour and sex appeal, which I think has a universal appeal!

What are you currently working on?

Currently working on something for H&M which should get out there later on this year. After this I'm off on holiday – I need a break!

Where do you see the role of the graphic designer heading in coming years?

Very tricky to predict. Even in the 10 years or so I've been working, it has changed so much. It’s reached the point where the term graphic designer doesn't really apply to what I actually do for a living! 

 

tomdarracott.com