Eat Work Art SPOTLIGHT: James Edgar Studio
James Edgar Studio is an independent, multidisciplinary creative design studio based at Alma Yard.
Eat Work Art caught up with James Edgar for our latest resident spotlight, ahead of our partnership with them for this month's Plymouth Design Forum at The Millennium Building.
First of all, can you tell us about what you do at James Edgar Studio?
James Edgar Studio is an independent creative design studio. Our approach to projects is based upon research and strategic analysis, which informs all our conceptual thinking. We have a strong belief in clear, creative communications that are well-crafted and effective for the client or end-user.
James is a co-founder of Plymouth Design Forum Community Interest Company and the studio voluntarily runs monthly events and produces all the design output for PDF.
The studio is passionate about the transformative power of design thinking in various contexts, collaborating with local creatives to enrich our projects.
Our diverse portfolio includes collaborations with notable brands and organisations such as Hodder and Stoughton, Penguin Books, The Design Museum, Plymouth City Council; offering services such as branding, motion design, front-end design, packaging design, and more.
What led you into the world of design?
I didn’t really know there was such a job as a designer while I was at school. When I wasn’t kicking a ball I spent most of my time playing with Lego and drawing at home. I liked to understand how things work. Graphically I have always been drawn to things like Lego instructions and the exploded view drawings in Haynes Car manuals. I spent hours studying Panini Sticker books and comics where image and text were closely related.
After my GCSEs, I pursued A-Level Art and Design Technology Communication, followed by a foundation course in Graphic Design at Plymouth College of Art. This led me to pursue a degree in Graphic Design and Illustration at the University of Lincoln.
What have been your favourite projects to date?
Our work is so varied so it’s very difficult to choose a favourite project. Our passion for design is mainly wrapped up in the process. Every project teaches us something new and pushes our creativity.
Recent projects include website design for artist Paul Hosking, the Vision Factory identity and website, Barnardos Care Journeys. On a personal level ‘The Secret Lives of Colour’ book by Kassia St Clair is a project I’m still proud of today. Nearly 8 years after I was commissioned it is still being sold all over the world in many different languages.
Plymouth Design Forum is something myself and Co-founder Darren Foley are incredibly proud of. What began as five people discussing design in a pub with some chips has grown into the largest creative community in South-West. Our last event with Marina Willer attracted 140 people. The talks are hugely inspiring and bring some of the best design speakers in the world to the city. The vibe is always so friendly and relaxed and I can only imagine the positive effect it has on Plymouth after a room full of creatives go to work the next day. I get a kick from seeing students talk with these legends face to face. Such an incredible opportunity which they will remember throughout their careers.
Can you tell us more about Plymouth Design Forum? What inspired you to start PDF?
When I first moved back to Plymouth from London there was no design community at all. Designers were being underpaid and undervalued and there weren’t enough opportunities for students to stay in the city after they graduated.
In the past, due to its location, Plymouth struggled to compete with other cities when accessing culture. Our thinking was: ‘If we can’t access the culture here then let’s bring the culture to us.’ Since our first talk in 2019, we have organised over 60 events featuring renowned speakers like Kassia St Clair, Marina Willer, and Anthony Burrill. Our community has thrived, creating jobs, fostering collaborations, expanding networks, mentoring students, and forging lasting friendships.
Plymouth is more than just an ‘Ocean City’ with a lighthouse. It has great potential for growth in the creative industries, and we aim to showcase our achievements while welcoming design work from outside the city.
Any recommendations of things to do, eat or hear locally?
I spend a lot of time at skateparks with my son so I have to give a shout out to Prime Skatepark in Cattedown. Skating tends to bring together all sorts of creative people. It is such an encouraging and inclusive sport and we have met so many wonderful people over the years.
Continuing the skating theme, outside Plymouth, near Bantham, is a purpose built concrete skate bowl which is a piece of art in itself. ‘Outside’ is a two-acre multi-use space with a cafe, pottery studio, surfboard shaping bay and on-site growing space. The food is incredible. So go!
Other places to recommend? Obviously Plymouth Design Forum is a must. Every last Thursday of every month. The largest creative community in the city. We have Morag Myerscough speaking in October so don’t miss that.
Apart from that, takeout chips in the Dolphin pub on the Barbican is my happy place.
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