If I’m totally honest, I can’t exactly recall how we came across James Worton, but we were very pleased when we did. James is SO talented. He is also the hand behind the Brighton Creatives graphic you see above. We were overjoyed when he created this as part of his #makewortonwork series a couple of years ago. The guy works hard. He’s constantly creating and we really recommend you go follow him here for everything he gets up to. He also produced some beautiful posters for Don’t Just Stare (UK’S leading Mental Health platform promoting positive wellbeing through creativity) which we adored.
Tell us a bit about your background, how did you end up where you are in your career?
I always knew I wanted to end up in art and design, they were the only topics I had any sort of enthusiasm for at school, I wound up getting pretty dreadful grades in my GCSE’s and had to do an extra year at college to get onto the course I wanted to do. College was great and I think it shaped me more as a designer than my time at University. I had two incredible tutors, Deborah Boulter and Maurice Wood, who were very traditional in their methods. I was pushed to work more by hand, using a variety of mediums and rarely used a computer, opting to use tracing paper overlays and ink it up by hand instead. When it came to University I carried the same methods across and it wasn’t until second year that I naively stumbled into typography, my class were set a project on nostalgia and whilst I was procrastinating I decided to make a title page (like you did for that project on ancient Egypt at primary school) in hand lettering, It was nothing special, it looked like a font you might find at the circus, but it was interesting so I decided to follow up on it and keep practicing. It wasn’t long before all I found myself doing was drawing letters, experimenting in different mediums and tailoring my university briefs to match my new found passion and then it just snowballed from there. I left Uni and soon moved to Brighton. I worked at a pub part time until I thought I had enough clients to break free from bar work and focus on setting up self-employed.
How many designs do you explore for a client before showing them for feedback?
I’ve found that it depends on two things really, one is the client and the other is my confidence in what I have produced. For instance, some clients don’t quite understand the process or are working on stupidly tight deadlines and expect to see something within a few hours. In these cases it can be as little as three or four designs, also if I feel I have unearthed what I feel is a really solid idea in the early stages I’ll show it to them to test the water and see if I’m on the right track. On the other end of the scale are the clients where time is definitely not of the essence, they wholeheartedly put their trust in you, allow you to experiment and really push multiple ideas as far as they can go. For a while I thought that these types of clients were like unicorns, but then I met the client that has given me one of my favourite briefs.
To date, what has been your favourite project or most rewarding project to work on?
I had the pleasure of working for a lovely chap called Tim Rowan. We agreed to have lunch in Brighton so he could talk me though his vision and I could get a better understanding of the story behind the brand. Tim decided he wanted to build bikes so he decided to leave his job, get a workshop it Woodchurch (that’s in the middle of nowhere), take a few classes in bike building and set up shop. I really liked his attitude towards the whole thing. I was asked to design the logo, business cards, head badge, monogram, basically everything. He gave me free reign to do pretty much whatever I liked. I think we worked on the project for around 5 months, Tim’s attention to detail is second to none and I fed off it, we found ourselves obsessing over the smallest of things like little indents and textures on the horns of the deer skull or the flick of the ‘R’ that drops slightly lower. We took what we thought were giant steps forwards and then jumped further back, but I loved it, we left no stone unturned, this sort of freedom I think is what all designers yearn for in a project and it’s because of the fun I had designing it that made it the most rewarding not just the final outcome.
How do you feel about someone like Seb Lester who has made lettering and typography so popular?
I remember finding Seb on Instagram and being amazed by his skill, he already had a great following but I think it really went BOOM when he started recreating famous logo’s and titles of films, his Lord Of The Rings one in particular comes to mind. I think what he’s done for Typography and Lettering is fantastic, the more people that feel inspired to pick up a pen and start calligraphy for a hobby or profession ultimately leads to more people getting into letterpress, sign painting and other methods so the traditions can live on for further generations.
We love your coco pops, autumn leaf, weetabix work, will we see more work with non traditional materials?
Thank you, yeah I’m sure you will. To be honest they were so spontaneous I couldn’t give you a time that type of work will happen again, I’m not planning any but who knows, if I have any waste cereal knocking about I’ll be sure to put it to good use for you.
Show us your workspace pretty please?
This is a little old as I’m currently in the process of moving from London to Bristol.