Hey Craig, first of all, how are you?
Tired, but excited.
Give us some fun facts about yourself!
I have my 5m and 10m swimming badges and I delight in profanity.
For those that do not know who is Craig Oldham?
A working-class boy into middle-class things.
So why design?
In truth, I don’t know why design. I think it’s easy to look back on questions like this and pinpoint your memories and mistake them for signals that you were destined to be in the creative industries. Things like ‘ I always drew as a child,’ and, ‘ I used to collect records for their artwork,’ and the likes. Truth is, so does a large percentage of the rest of the planet. For me, I think, the most sincere thing I can remember was the people around me that used real-time creativity to think their way out of problems they were faced with. Raw creativity and pure problem-solving. It comes from the mind and doesn’t concern itself with aesthetics of any kind really, and I think now I still am more interested in the mind and the means rather than the end. I work to make my work, work, first and foremost. Then I try to make it efficient and finally, not be awful to look at or engage with. But I’d take the first two over anything else.
Talk to us about The Office of Craig.
Office Of Craig, despite my name over the door, is run by democracy inside. It’s set up as a teaching/learning studio where a rotational shift of graduates come for a set period to develop their skills before moving on. We are all designers, no one is junior or senior etc, we all do the same things when they are required. No one is ever asked to do something that they wouldn’t be prepared to do themselves, that is a core principle here.
Leading on from this... What makes you guys different?
I guess all of the above, added to which we author a lot of our own work. Many studios self-initiate work, but these tend to be promotional stuff like portfolio books or Xmas cards and stuff. We’re more interested in using this time to benefit our communities, be them creative or otherwise. So we make books, websites, put on events and the likes. I think this authorial practice is defining for us.
You recently started the Outside Directory with Alice Fraser. How did this come about?
Alice is a designer here, but before that she wanted to address concerns she remembered as a student not wanting to work in London but not knowing where to go to explore the industry outside of that. Together we initiated the directory as a response to this. Again, one of those authorial projects that not many others do.
You have been championing young creative talent via the Grads Showcase, how important is this to you?
Crucial. And it’s a responsibility I have but also every designer working has. Graduates are the lifeblood of the industry and its future. I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s fundamentally true. We’ve all had a shit past two years, but Grads were hit hard having all their usual opportunities of exhibitions and networking removed from them, GRAD.SHOW.CASE. was a small step to offer something back from industry to in a modest way try to chip away at that blockage.
What do you believe makes a good designer? And what do you look for?
Your opinion. If you don’t have any opinions or principles then you are nothing. I also think designers should teach and should write as both improve you as a practitioner.
I want to start featuring more people on this platform so with this in mind, is there anyone in the creative industry that you would like to shout out?
Maria Nery. Maria is an exceptionally talented developer and motion graphics designer. She’s one of those people that are vital to the industry and we love working with her and are lucky to work with her.
For my final question, what's next for Craig Oldham?
I have no idea, and I’m happy with that.