A month in the life of… Jack Mussett from Motherbird

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Published:  September 4, 2014
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Each month we’ll be exploring the life of design through the eyes of a designer,  from daily banalities to their award-winning triumphs. We’re hoping to provide a glimpse at the working processes involved in being a professional designer, as well as the diversity of studio spaces, approaches, methods and means of inspiration across the globe.

The first in the series is Jack Mussett from Melbourne-based graphic design studio Motherbird, who documents his busy August of studio work, (difficult) client management and serious socialising.

Aug 1 – After Hours

The month kicked off with a good evening — AGDA After Hours. A monthly AGDA event where creatives get together on a Friday, have a drink, a chat and meet new people. This month was held at Mr Wow’s Emporium in Smith St, Fitzroy. A freezing cold day, bucketing down, but it still had a great turn out — designers love a drink on a Friday.

As an AGDA Councillor I’m quite attached to this event as it nearly didn’t happen 3 years ago when the stale ‘Beer O’Clock’ was voted out by the AGDA council. I repackaged the idea in a more informal setting and After Hours was born. It’s not amazing for my bank account or general wellbeing, but good for my soul.

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Aug 3 – One Day Bridal

We’re thrilled to have received the One Day Bridal stationery back from printers. The team at Taylor’d Press have done a stunning job after experimenting with different card weights, foils and treatments. The result is a Pale Gold blocked foil on duplexed Strathmore Premium Wove Soft White.

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Aug 5 – Client respect

Occasionally you’ll get the odd client who completely doesn’t understand the value of what we do. This is not necessarily always their fault, it is often a wider problem with the perception of graphic design and how we communicate what we do to our clients. This one surprised me a little bit as they’re from a creative field themselves.

To set the scene a little bit: I was asked to come into a business to discuss the prospect of working on their corporate identity, printed collateral and website development. This particular client had three different brand marks across their company and was after a cohesive, minimal aesthetic to their branded collateral. The problem is, they had the perception that minimal is simple, quick, cheap, easy. The reality is — minimal is damn hard! Complex design is easy— glossing over any shortcomings. In any minimal design, everything has to be perfect otherwise any inconsistency or error is blatantly obvious. I was shown several examples of brands they liked and thought could work well for them. After an hour discussing the importance and value of a well considered brand identity, we were all on the same page. Or so I thought.

We then quoted for the project and days later I was called up. After a few formalities, the conversation continued:

Client — “I want to go with the business cards only from the quote” (the cheapest option).

Me — “Okay no worries (slightly worried). Well given you have a few different logos, you’ll have to send us something to work with.”

Client — “Yeah nah, I just want a simple font…just minimal type.”

Me— “Will you use this ‘font’ throughout all of your branding and collateral?”

Client— “Yes, that’s the idea.”

Me — “Well that’s the branding component of our work, that’s what we specialise in.”

Client — “I don’t see the difference, what has this got to do with the business cards?”

Me — “We develop brands to work across all of your collateral, it’s not just a font, you spend a lot of time working on these things, they go hand in hand. We cannot design a brand under the guise of a business card.”

Client— “Okay let’s leave it then.”

And that was it… maybe for the better.

Aug 6 – W.I.P. selfie

Each monday we sit down for a ‘WIP’ (work in progress) meeting. While we all manage individual jobs, the meeting is essential for us to effectively track deliverables and deadlines, as well as discuss any issues that may arise. We decided to take a WIP selfie.

Note: Chris’s hand dominance in the photo demonstrates his lack of selfie experience… which must be a good thing.

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Aug 8 – Street Press

We’ve been working hard over the several weeks to design and launch a new street based publication for one of our long term clients. We can’t show anything yet, but hopefully over the coming months it will be launched and around the streets of Melbourne…

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Aug 11 – Marbling

We always aim to take on new challenges when they arise, and marbling was definitely going to be one of those. It’s not an easy technique (and we were warned), but we persevered and the final result should be out soon in an Australia-wide campaign for a secret client… shhh!

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Aug 12 – Harklo Brand Identity

Multidisciplinary design duo Harklo recently produced these stunning set of vases, complete with the brand identity that we developed for them. It’s lovely to see it used in context, especially looking so schmick!

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Aug 13 – Papercut

We are humbled to be selected to participate in an exhibition at The Proud Archivist in London. Our Billy Blue folded paper work will feature as one of the handmade pieces from the recently released Rockport book Papercut. The exhibition includes a limited run of signed prints, which I had the pleasure of numbering and signing ‘MB’. Hopefully we sell a few.

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Aug 14 – AGDA meeting

This year I have been appointed the AGDA Chairman for Victoria, which is a huge honour, while at the same time being a lot of extra work. We meet once a month to discuss and plan initiatives, events and workshops. It’s been an active month, so a few of us met at Balderdash in Port Melbourne to organise a few of the business based events we have coming up. Getting to work on time is tough for me, let alone a 7.30am meeting… but I was only 5 minutes late.

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Aug 14 – AEVOE Exhibition

Melbourne collective AEVOE held an exhibition at The Liberty Social. It’s almost directly under our studio, so there was no excuse not to check it out. We were impressed by the quality and variety of approaches in the exhibition.

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Aug 18 – Street Art

A street installation on homelessness I found really moving.

“How long you been on the streets?”
“Bout five years.”
“Does it get any easier?”
“What do you call easy?”

I also wanted to share a photo of a work by Space Invader that is under our studio…it is getting increasingly damaged, but I look at it every day when I walk past. I love working in the city and being able to go for a walk and stumble across all sorts of interesting art installations, street art, pop up stores and eclectic buskers.

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Aug 20 – Every designer needs good coffee

For 3 years, the guys at Cup of Truth in the Flinders St subway have been supplying me with my morning caffeine hit, some good tunes and some (often controversial) jokes. It’s great when your local knows your name and your order and all you need to do is rock up and bring the conversation. Coffee is a vital part of my day.

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Aug 20 – Digital production meeting

We’re currently working with Peptolab on an upcoming website for renowned wedding gown designer Kyha (One Day Bridal). I dropped in to see Simon and get his technical thoughts on how the site could be best designed and developed. For those of us who sometimes lose track of any digital capabilities, it’s nice to be brought back down to reality.

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Aug 21 – Failure

It was a huge honour to recently be invited to speak at the next Creative Mornings on the topic of Failure. I have spent a number of weeks crafting the talk, as it isn’t a subject that I’ve spoken publicly about before. Each talk is filmed and put online for the world to see, so that adds a fair bit of pressure. I have never ‘storyboarded’ a talk before, but it certainly helped me structure it properly.

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Aug 22– Daisylegs studio opening

A friend I have known since high school, Jamie Edwards, has recently opened a design and mural studio called Daisylegs. The opening party in Prahran was a great night. These guys have unreal skills— watch out for them in the future.

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Aug 28– Pantone matching

We’re thrilled to be working on the brand identity for a new retail venture starting in Melbourne. The colours are bright, punchy, and this press check brought a smile to our faces.

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Aug 28 – New business meetings

It’s amazing when a new business meeting coincides with nice weather in the studio, as it makes the place shine. I managed to capture a snap of a meeting that I wasn’t involved in — it went well though.

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Aug 29 – Creative Mornings

The day I had been preparing for arrived — Creative Mornings. After a number of weeks working late nights in the studio writing, rewriting, rehearsing and remembering my words, I was ready to speak them to others. I’ve done a lot of public speaking discussing the studio’s journey, giving advice and showing work—this is all easy as it’s subjective, it’s my story and nobody else’s. But it’s a daunting process presenting an idea, thought or opinion on any given topic, let alone Failure, as there’s a fair chance the audience may not agree.

Along with a few animated gifs, I presented childhood anecdotes, case studies and my own ideas on Failure. I really enjoyed speaking on the topic, and hope the audience did too. A video of the talk will be published on the Creative Mornings site in the coming weeks… judge away.

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Aug 29 – Esperanto Magazine

Esperanto Magazine is a Monash University based bi-monthly magazine. The studio was asked to give our most important piece of advice to graduating students. It’s great to see that publications like this exist in order to support new designers entering the industry. We went along to the opening night and was pleasantly surprised by a beautifully designed publication.

http://motherbird.com.au/

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