Meet Mike: Designer Extraordinaire
Hi, we’re Forward Slash (FS), we’re that collective that gets things done.
Today we’ll be talking all things design, from conception to execution, and I’ve roped our lead designer Michael into giving away his best kept design tips and secrets.
Some may not know this, but many many moons ago the Forward Slash (FS) Team, was just Keturah…
Shhh… I can hear the “well duhh’s” in the back.
Though phenomenal she may be, Keturah had a dream, a dream she just couldn't achieve alone, a dream so big she needed help, a dream that could shake the hearts of men.
A dream…Oh you get it, I’m sure you’ve guessed it by now.
Keturah wants to take over the world!
No, but really.
And in the digital age, it’s not all that impossible. But that’s a tell-all biography for another day, today is all about Michael Akuagwu, our Designer Extraordinaire.
This week I sat down with Mike and had a bit of a chat*.
*interrogation, I interrogated him.
Hi Michael, please introduce yourself.
>>/ Hi, my name is Michael or Mike, nowadays people call me Mike (my Instagram @ is to blame) and I am a Graphic Designer.
Tell us a bit about your background.
>>/ So I am a Bio-engineering graduate who went rogue to pursue a career as a Graphic Designer. I’ve always appreciated things like great logos, cool packaging, incredible movie poster design, comic book art, modern art and things like photography and fonts so while at university I dived into making similar things and researching into how people created these things. I would have said that curiosity killed the cat but the investigation and experimentation was very necessary!
What are your duties at Forward Slash and what does your average day look like?
>>/ I aid with creating the digital assets and design work needed for our clients. In the day and age we live in with all things going digital and social media feeds needing fresh content, people like me help create things that can engage the audience well. An average day...let’s just say that it’s me in front of my MacBook for hours on end (I love her - yes my MacBook)
So! Now that the formalities are over, teach us (me!) how to do that edit thing you did for our clients rebrand where the lines moved and rotated and it looked amazing.
>>/ So you mean, how do I come up with a design based on a brief?
Erm, sure (?)
>>/ Ohhhh I was about to say, “that is confidential, Ma’am”.
Well I do go through it a couple of times and really try and understand what they are asking for. I’ll research into the client, look at what it is they do, the kind of things they can create then do further research in relation to the project. Research is important as it informs your design. The ideation process comes next with a lot of drafts, sketching and verbalising ideas (I still go back to the brief again from time to time during this stage) and then review with the team, we can change things and then deliver for the client and get initial opinions. That normally informs us if we are making a step in the right direction.
As we can’t talk specific details, I’ll reword my question. Hypothetically if you were to redo the logo for a brand what would that process look like?
>>/ So in short: READ MY BRIEF, Research, Ideate, Conceptualise, Refine (Refine, Refine, Refine, Refine) then Review (the Conceptualise - Review bit may have to be repeated again and again) until it is complete!
Some of your designs are animated, and some aren’t. As a designer, how do you come up with the best format to execute the brief?
>>/ Well it all comes down to what the brief asks of you and how you think it should be best executed. If the client has a brief that’s a bit flexible then you can try some out of the box ideas which can involve movement. It’s all about creating something that’s the right fit for the client but still bringing something fresh and exciting. Even with briefs that are very specific there is beauty in constraints so you can still produce something great.
To end, what are your top tips for budding designers out there?
>>/ Study study study. Even though I didn’t “study” Graphic Design at university I did watch a lot of Youtube videos on various techniques and buy books on the history and rules of Graphic Design. There are things like composition and colour theory that need a deeper understanding which help your design work. So be a good student, learn the rules and when you’ve learnt enough you can break those rules. But keep on learning!
Thanks Mike, its been interesting hearing what goes on behind the scenes of those great edits. Often we only ever see the finished product and have no idea how intense the journey getting there has been. Next task, grabbing Keturah for a sit down and drilling her - I mean enquiring about her journey.