What’s the process?

October 24th, 2013 by Mat Dolphin

* This article also features on Creative Review’s Blog *

Processes. They’re a huge part of what we do and we use them in an effort to add structure and order to our working day. Working on creative projects throws up a unique set of challenges – To say that every project is different is a bit of a cliché, but it’s ridiculously true. The challenge presented by each project differing from the last is that regardless of the fact they’re all completely unique, we have to ensure that each and every one is successful. Both for ourselves and our clients. This may sound obvious, but it’s surprisingly difficult to achieve.

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Ten Questions 038 – Thomas Blankschøn

October 1st, 2013 by Mat Dolphin

Thomas Blankschøn is a designer whose work manages to cover a wide variety of styles and approaches, whilst still remaining consistently his. Abstracted, disjointed illustrations sit alongside playful type treatments and fluid, textured sketches to create a characteristic and individual style. Thomas works for himself in his Berlin studio, before which he attended the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts and The School of Design in Copenhagen.

He took some time out to answer our Ten Questions.

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The 3 L’s

September 10th, 2013 by Mat Dolphin

A question that repeatedly comes up when we first start talking to potential clients is: “Where are you based?”. It’s a completely reasonable thing to ask and it’s understandable that someone we’re working with would want to know where we are whilst doing the work.

Although often the question isn’t exactly about where we’re based, it’s actually about how close we are, geographically. For clients it would all see to be about the 3 L’s: Location, location, location.

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99 problems but amends ain’t one…

August 14th, 2013 by Mat Dolphin

We have opinions on budget logo design which we’ve aired in the past. We’ve questioned the ‘pound shop’ mentality of flogging logo designs for as cheaply as possible and whilst we feel that there may be a place for such services, we’re yet to be convinced about the quality they’re able to offer. After plenty of thought and discussion the summary is basically; you get what you pay for. If you’re not bothered about the quality of your logo (which is a pretty subjective thing at the best of times) or the service you receive from the designer, you might as well try and pay as little as possible.

Then along comes Swiftly. The basic premise of which is slightly different from that of 99designs, the company that recently launched Swiftly to the world. Both companies are competing purely on price point and using their low costs as a selling point. But instead of knocking out logos for next to nothing, Swiftly is essentially an amends factory. Need to simply change the name on a business card? Or switch the colour of the font on your website? Change some copy in Powerpoint? Swiftly claim to be able to take care of these small tweaks and changes for as little as $15.

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Leo Burnett already said it better than us…

August 7th, 2013 by Mat Dolphin

It’s all too easy to get carried away with design. We’ve all been guilty at some point of adding a slightly unnecessary effect or one too many ‘finishing touches’. Knowing when a piece of design work is complete isn’t as easy as it seems, and there is a definite art in knowing when to stop. We recently came across a quote giving four simple instructions which act as a set of convenient guidelines. The fact that they are painfully obvious doesn’t by any means make them easy to put into practice. Focusing on the reasons a piece of design will work, they are clear and concise reminders of the importance of putting yourself in the position of the audience.

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Creativity Decoded

July 18th, 2013 by Mat Dolphin

We all have differing opinions, and with good reason. Life would be pretty dull if we all goose stepped along to the same thoughts and views. But surely there’s some things we have to agree on, so that we can determine right from wrong, black from white? This is the conundrum Aaron Yeboah has been contemplating recently, as he tries to define ‘what is creativity?’

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Making A Mess

June 26th, 2013 by Mat Dolphin

In maths lessons at school we always had to ‘show our workings’. Clearly demonstrating how we solved the problem to let the teacher know that we had worked it out for ourselves, rather than simply copying Jemima or using one of those calculator things.

Applying this thinking to design – a discipline being largely concerned with ‘problem solving’ – is interesting, because it’s rare to see anything other than the final and polished result. Many case studies on design portfolios (ours included), show snapshots of preparatory sketches and scamps. They’re often interesting to see and sometimes give an insight into the thought process of the designer. But, they’re always examples of ideas that did develop into the final design. They’re few and far between anyway, but when seen they still only tell a tiny part of a much bigger story.

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One Thousand, Four Hundred and Sixty Days

June 18th, 2013 by Mat Dolphin

Four years ago today, Mat Dolphin was officially launched as a company. Happy Birthday to us!

In that time we’ve learned a lot, produced some work we’re hugely proud of and been lucky enough to work with some absolutely amazing people.

If you’ve had any involvement with Mat Dolphin over the last four years, you’ve been a part of it and we want to sincerely thank you.

Here’s to the next four!

Thanks for reading

Phil and Tom


Ten Questions 036 – Jordan Metcalf

June 6th, 2013 by Mat Dolphin

We came across the work of Jordan Metcalf quite recently. His beautiful lettering for a recent Adobe campaign caught our attention and after checking out more of his work, we immediately got in touch to say hello and ask him if he’d be willing to answer our Ten Questions. Thankfully, he was.

Based in Cape Town, South Africa, his illustration and typography work is truly brilliant. He has worked for clients such as Nike, Smirnoff, The X-Games, 5280 Magazine and, having recently signed up to the illustration agency Handsome Frank, we expect to see plenty more big name clients utilising Jordan’s remarkable talent.

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Ten Questions 035 – Si Scott

May 22nd, 2013 by Mat Dolphin

Si Scott is an illustrator best known for his amazingly detailed and elaborate typography and decorative hand-drawn renderings of animals. His work has a unique style of it’s own and his reputation has earned him an impressive client list including Nike, Coca-Cola, Adidas, Channel 4, Converse, GAP, Hugo Boss, Vogue, Wallpaper Magazine… The list goes on. He’s also a visiting lecturer at Leeds College of Art & Design and has exhibited his work at various institutions around the world including Tokyo, New York, Brazil and Sydney.

We’ve been big fans of his work for some time now and are very pleased to have him on board as part of our Ten Questions series.

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Saul Bass already said it better than us…

May 8th, 2013 by Mat Dolphin

“Sometimes it simply doesn’t matter how good the brief is, how good your idea is or how well the project seems to be going. Design is a creative pursuit and definitively ‘right’ answers simply don’t exist. To design – or do anything creative – is a practice in asking questions, trying things out and exploring uncharted territory. Attempting new approaches and new ways of thinking are a part of being a creative person. This experimentation can lead to brilliant, maybe even groundbreaking results. But not always. Unfortunately, sometimes you just have to concede that what you’re trying to do, simply doesn’t work. By no means an easy thing to accept, the fact is that attempting new things won’t always result in success. Saul Bass knew this… Keep reading…


Storm Thorgerson already said it better than us…

April 19th, 2013 by Mat Dolphin

Computers these days are amazing. With the right software and a little bit of know-how it’s never been easier to whip up any ridiculous image you have in your head, and make it a reality for all the world to see. If it doesn’t look quite as good as you’d hoped, maybe add a load of drop shadows, lighting effects and any other number of gimmicky Photoshop filters until it does? Although, after a while you begin to realise that perhaps the reason it ain’t that great, is because of the idea in the first place. If the foundations aren’t strong enough, the house will fall down. A truly great idea can stand on it’s own without the need to be supported by effects and decoration.

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The Key To Failure Is Trying To Please Everybody

April 8th, 2013 by Mat Dolphin

“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody”
Bill Cosby

To state the obvious; any designer worth their salt wants to do great design work. Work that can stand the test of time. Work that gets noticed. Work that they can be proud of and get recognition for.

The only real way of knowing that the work we’re producing is good, is when others tell us so. Design is a strange, subjective thing and most designers at one time or another have had to deal with a concept they thought was brilliant being rejected on the grounds that it simply wasn’t all that good. For a piece of design work to be really good, other people have to agree with you we’re afraid.

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Ten Questions 033 – Steven Bonner

March 19th, 2013 by Mat Dolphin

Steven Bonner is a designer and illustrator based in sunny sunny Scotland. His work is largely focused on beautiful illustrative typography and we’ve been big fans of what he does for some time now. He has worked for a range of clients including Audi, The British Heart Foundation, Cadbury, Coca-Cola, Diesel, Nike, The Scottish Government, William Hill and many others. Refusing to stick to a single style, each brief is approached from a completely different angle, the only common factor being that everything he does looks bloody amazing.

He kindly agreed to give us an insight into his world by answering our Ten Questions.

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Valentines Giveaway – The Winners

February 15th, 2013 by Mat Dolphin

Thank you to each and every one of you who took the time to pen romantic verses for our Valentines poster giveaway. We had a huge number of submissions to choose from – some beautiful and creative, some ridiculous and funny, quite a few creepy and vaguely worrying, but all very much appreciated.

We’ve gone through the lot and are pleased to announce the following lucky winners. Our judging process was pretty simple and based on one simple question; which ones did we like the most? Apologies to those who contributed work and weren’t chosen – we would love for all of you to be winners but there could only be a lucky few, and (in no particular order) here they are…

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…You get love

February 14th, 2013 by Mat Dolphin

** UPDATE ** The competition has now closed, we’ve been overwhelmed with a huge number of brilliant entries, and will be announcing the winners soon!

The time has finally come to announce the details of our Valentines poster giveaway! Let’s get it on…

If you’d like the chance to receive a copy of our A2 Valentines print delivered your door anywhere in the world, all you need to do is get in the mood for romance and follow these three simple steps:

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If you give love…

February 12th, 2013 by Mat Dolphin

This week see’s the annual return of the corporate, manufactured and over-priced celebration of all things loveSt. Valentines day has arrived!

We decided to get involved with the romance and produced some posters, which we’re planning to give away as a token of selfless love. If you keep an eye on our Twitter feed on 14th February 2013, you’ll witness the grand unveiling and be in with a chance of having one of the beautiful, love-themed A2 prints sent directly to your door. Free of charge. Don’t say we never do anything for you.

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Ten Questions 032 – Non-Format

February 6th, 2013 by Mat Dolphin

Since long before starting Mat Dolphin we’ve been hugely inspired by Non-Format. The two man studio is run by Jon Forss and Kjell Ekhorn and the work they produce is beautiful, interesting, boundary pushing and, at times, a bit weird. The pair have created a style that is both completely unique and instantly recognisable for a pretty impressive client list. Since establishing the company in London in 2000, the pair have gone on to work with the likes of Nike, Coca-Cola, K-Swiss, Gap, Sony, Adobe, EMI, Orange, Rick Owens, Nokia and The Economist as well as a number of small independent record labels – music packaging being one of the things for which they’re best known. Now based in Minneapolis (Jon) and his native Norway (Kjell), their incredible typography, design and art direction has spawned a host of imitators but by the time most people have caught on, they’re already two steps ahead.

They were kind enough to spend some time answering our Ten Questions. Here’s what they had to say.

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Wim Crouwel already said it better than us…

January 29th, 2013 by Mat Dolphin

On this blog (and elsewhere to anyone else who will listen) we constantly bang on about the importance of solving a brief. We highly value the need to communicate the message of client to their target audience. We feel it’s a vital part of the design process and a key part of being a designer. However, as with all creative pursuits, there is always room for adding a small part of ourselves into our work. Authorship is a huge part of what we do and making the work ours is part of what makes it a passion, rather than a bog standard job. Solving the problem in an appropriate, thoughtful and creative way is obviously essential and should be the primary focus, but a designer injecting some of their own personality into the work can go a long way. The esteemed Mr Wim Crouwel knows the deal…

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Critical Thinking

January 16th, 2013 by Mat Dolphin

A recent article by Michael Bierut is currently causing a bit of a stir over on Design Observer. The piece ponders various aspects of graphic design criticism and raises a number of questions about the merits and pitfalls of online commentators appointing themselves as a critics. Bierut warns this continual increase risks becoming simply a ‘spectator sport’ rather than a constructive and productive means for comment and debate.

The lengthy piece is as well written as one would expect from Bierut and the points it raises have attracted a number of comments. Design industry heavyweights such as Rick Poynor, Marian Bantjes, Armin Vit and Paula Scher have got involved to share their opinions on the matter.

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