Afterlife w/ Smörgåsbord

Today in our afterlife session we had Vicky Beech, the co-founder of Smörgåsbord, and designer Callum Richards, a previous graduate from our course, give us an insight into Smörgåsbord.

They first gave a short introduction to themselves. Vicky Beech, the co-founder of Smörgåsbord studied graphic communications at Loughborough university. However, she soon found after finishing university she couldn’t find a job. This is what motivated her to move to London in search of better opportunities. She stated that don’t be afraid to move away from home in search of a job that you are striving for. Moving to London allowed Vicky to take up many internships and gain lots of experience in the field. She said that this is something she would recommend to anyone, it gave her tons of invaluable experience. After gaining this experience she then moved to Wales where she started freelancing. In 2008 she was speaking to a friend in a cafe about their work and they decided to start their own company. This is where Smörgåsbord was born.

Callum Richards graduated in 2017 from our course and now works as a designer for Smörgåsbord. He had some invaluable advice for those of us graduating this year. He first said to firstly take all the opportunities given to you and to make the most of being at university and around your tutors. This is great advice and something I know I should work on as I tend to work from home a lot. He said, which I find very true, ‘if you don’t ask, you won’t get’. Something I can work on is asking for feedback and help more often, it will definitely help to improve my work. Similarly to Laura Sorvala, the last guest from afterlife, he said that he thinks its important to think about where you want to work. He said he loves living in Cardiff as it inspired him everyday. Callum stated that moving to Cardiff was great for him as living somewhere with so much inspiration motivates him in his creative work. He agreed with Vicky’s point, don’t be afraid to move away from home for work. Callum also mentioned that as a young designer you should be a jack of all trades and the master of none. As a young designer its important not to pigeonhole yourself, showing you have knowledge on most practices within graphic design is great for employers. Lastly, he said to aim to be a good designer not a well known one. If you’re a good designers opportunities will come to you.

Both Vicky and Callum also wanted to talk a bit about Smörgåsbord and what they do. The Welsh and Dutch creative studio doesn’t just do branding projects, Smörgåsbord works on a wide range of projects from all sorts of disciplines. Vicky said that the company has a big focus on ideas and concepts. She states that it can be easy to create a good looking design but what matters is the impact and what you are saying beyond that. Vicky advised us when thinking about a project to always think: why am I making this?, who is this for? and what’s the mission? Having a strategy for a project is the best way to create, and gives you a way forward. I agree, I think is so important for a successful project. Vicky brought up this beautiful project as an example. Smörgåsbord were asked to re-design the branding for Wales. I remember seeing this in an exhibition last year and remember it being so elegant looking. The designers on this project wanted to upgraded the classic dragon silhouette, using circles forms to create a sophisticated, more modern version. It still keeps that heritage that Wales has but modernises it for today. Smörgåsbord also created a new typeface for Welsh branding called Cymru Wales Sans & Serif. The typeface is based on an old Welsh typeface and was created with unique ligatures special for the Welsh language. It really is a beautiful project with thought behind every detail.

Overall, this session of afterlife was really inspiring. Seeing the amazing work from Smörgåsbord is motivating to see. Vicky and Callum also had some invaluable advise for us which I will take forward with me.

Sources Used:

(accessed 3rd March 2020)

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