“We avoid trends like the plague”
London-based Sawdust has become one of the world’s most talked-about design duos. Discover the secrets behind the creative partnership of Jonathan Quainton and Rob Gonzalez.
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RG: “Jonathan and I met while studying graphic design. We worked on a number of projects together that proved successful, or at least we thought so at the time. We naively vowed to someday set up our own studio, and seven years later, in 2006, we bit the bullet.”
JQ: “I genuinely believe that our naivety when we first established the studio has worked to our advantage. We didn’t have any preconceived ideas. Only the belief that if we put everything we had into the work, then clients would eventually find us.”
RG: “The way we divide work between us is fluid. I work more closely with image making, mostly typographic, whereas Jonathan focuses mainly on the base letterforms, typefaces and font creation. However, it’s not uncommon for us to do it the other way around. This continuous crossover enables us to form a dynamic that keeps us pushing and exploring.”
JQ: “We try to avoid trends like the plague. Our focus lies on producing work that excites us, and, to challenge convention, you have to avoid the expected and draw from the unexpected. Rob and I really enjoy surprising people by constantly moving into different spheres of thought and execution with our work.”
RG: “When you create something, your instinct is to share it. You want people to experience it, feel it, question it, think about it. You want a reaction. In that sense I’m proud of what we’ve achieved to date.”
This is how they do it
Great graphical design in just 17 steps according to Rob Gonzalez and Jonathan Quainton
1. Read brief
2. Try to understand brief
3. Debate brief
4. Allocate brief to either Jonathan or myself depending on what’s required
6. Begin work
8. Elation / Crippling self-doubt / Elation / Crippling self-doubt
9. Elation! Like magic, an idea happens
10. Test idea
11. Share idea test with the other
12. Hope it gets some love
a) No love. Suppress ego, repeat process
b) It gets love. Develop, refine.
13. Share with the other again
14. Take constructive criticism on board without being precious
15. Refine more, sweat the details
16. Share with the other again
17. Hope it gets some love
a) Still needs work, agonise, push harder, suppress ego again
b) Green light! Finish up, finesse details, deliver, go have a beer.
TEXT: JOHAN ÅBERG PHOTO: ANDREAS BLECKMANN
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