Design of life

by Crumbs

19 May 2014

"To me a graphic designer is someone who uses colour, shape and composition to convey an idea or emotion to a targeted audience in the most simplistic and effective way."

We love a creative crumb, especially one who loves food as much as we do! So we’ve been scouting the South West for the best entrepreneurs helping to get our passionate local foodies on the map. Crayons at the ready, Crumbs takes five with Bristol-based graphic designer Derek Edwards

We can’t even draw an egg. We’re guessing you have to be pretty arty farty to do what you do right?
Growing up as a kid I loved to draw for fun. It was what I excelled in at school, but at that time I wasn’t aware where it could lead me. I didn’t know you could have a career in art and design, and wasn’t aware of the impact creative industries have on the world. I hadn’t even heard of graphic design! But when my art teacher said I was good enough to study art at university it opened up options for me to pursue a career doing what I loved.

So what exactly is a graphic designer?
To me a graphic designer is someone who uses colour, shape and composition to convey an idea or emotion to a targeted audience in the most simplistic and effective way. To be a designer you need to be a visually aware person, to see the beauty in the simple things. Designers soak up visual references from everything and anything and somewhere down the line re-use an element of it in a reconfigured, reconstructed way. The aesthetic aspect plays a massive role but being able to generate ideas is just as important. You can also be the best designer in the world but if people do not like you they will not come back, so you need to be personable and mindful that you always listen to what clients have to say.

Explain the name Patwa – what does it mean to you?
The company name Patwa reflects my Jamaican heritage. It is the unofficial but most commonly spoken language on the island and is said to have both African and European influences. Not dissimilar to design in the way it has taken the best elements and reconfigured them to work in harmony and flow, but at the same time break the rules and be different. 

We hear you’ve recently teamed up with StrEAT founder Navina Bartlett, for her new range of Indian cuisine pots. How did that come about?
Navina was referred to me via Marti Burgess who set up Bristol’s Sister Gee’s, a Jamaican food outfit that Patwa branded. The first job I worked on for Navina was StrEAT, a street food collective which I created the brand identity and marketing collateral for. A few months back Navina launched Coconut Chilli, which I have taken under my design wing. I was really pleased to find out it received four Taste of the West Awards – go Navina!

What other companies have you worked with locally? 
I have worked with quite a range including; Watershed, Sustain, Sustrans, Real World Records, Womad, Shambala, Chuggington, Thali Cafe, Coconut Chilli, StrEAT, Rethink, NHS Bristol, Alistar Sawday’s, St George’s Bristol, Bristol Council, Bristol Race Forum, St Paul’s Carnival, Bristol Cycle Festival and Sister Gee’s. I’m currently work with meals.co.uk; a local online food delivery service.

Can anyone approach you with an idea in mind for their brand?
Of course! However, as a designer most of the time people come to me for the ideas. A lot of the time clients have a direction they want to take but look to me for inspiration and creativity to take their brand forward. I work collaboratively with my clients, but if I think an idea won’t work I will always give constructive advice on how to move forward.

Do you have a certain creative method?
I try and keep the initial concept stage as free as possible, as thinking about restrictions stifles creativity – you can always refine ideas as they develop. I write all my thought processes down, even if I know they’re not yet right because they may trigger other ideas that are. If that Eureka moment takes a while to develop I sometimes just need to try a different approach. Usually when the pressure is off the perfect idea pops in your head, so I try and relax, go for a walk, visit a book shop for inspiration, I even cook a meal!

You must be a busy chap, what foods help you get through your working week?
I am very lucky to work close to St Nicks Market, which is a wonderful place to experience a diverse range of food for around £5. I often treat myself to a quick lunch out here and my favourites are the Mothership at Pieminister, curry goat at Caribbean Wrap and venison sausages and mash at The Bristol Sausage Shop. There’s also some great places to go on King Street where my studio is based, I especially like the Small Bar who serve an amazing pulled pork sandwich. I recommend this with the rustic-style fries and a cold beer on those days you need inspiration! I try and eat my five-a-day and keep my diet as balanced as possible. I love the The Thali Cafe, not because I have worked with them before but honestly because I think their food is great. They definitely introduced me to a side of Indian food I didn’t know about before. It’s healthy, tasty, affordable and they have their ethics set in place.

What does working in such a vibrant city as Bristol add to your company?
Bristol is a great place to work, it’s packed with people doing great things, being in and around it definitely inspires me. This city has a real sense of community and people are always pulling together to improve things or just have a party. Yes there is competition but it’s not at the same level as London. I think us design companies coexist and compliment each other. Bristol is a diverse and culturally rich city. What more could Patwa ask for?

What advice would you give to someone interested in graphic design?
Once you have graduated the real education starts, the reality of how difficult it is out there kicks in – at this point if you find yourself out of work keep being creative, set yourself projects and don’t give up. Keep your ear to the ground, go to design events, meet other designers, contact design studios to present your work, even if they don’t have jobs going it’s good practice and a chance to get good feedback – it’s really important you put yourself out of your comfort zone to build your confidence. You really need to believe in yourself, if you don’t believe in yourself will not be able to sell ideas, but at the same time don’t be arrogant and take time to listen. Don’t always take the easy route, it may be hard to get to the end point but if you’re successful you will reap the rewards and if you fail you will learn from it, which can sometimes be more valuable. Overall just enjoy it.