Ten questions for...Carl Godfrey

With just over a week to go we hear from our warm-up act Carl Godfrey all about the first thing he designed, inspirations and favourite work.

1. What was the Eureka moment that made you become a designer?

A Computer Arts magazine article featuring advertising agency Mother. They had a playstation and a ping pong table at work. I was sold.

2. What was the first thing you ever designed?

I was allowed a section of the back garden to design and spent my birthday and Christmas money on plants and pebbles (yeah, I know, cool right?). In the end I dug a massive hole 1.5 meters deep and 2 meters wide. Hit the sea floor and discovered lots of fossils. 15 years on there’s still a massive hole in my parents’ garden.

3. Where did you study and who taught you?

I studied Graphic Communication at Bath Spa University, taught by a great mix of designers, typographers and illustrators.

I’d totally go back and do it all again.

4. Design heroes?

These are the people that make me think I wish I’d done that’. 

Jean Jullien, Paul Smith, Thomas Heatherwick, Katie Paterson, Alan Fletcher, Candy Chang, Olafur Eliasson, Javier Jaén, Banksy, Daniel Eatock, Viktor & Rolf, Barber & Osgerby, Saul Steinberg, Jessica Svendsen, Damien Hirst, Lernert & Sander, Patrick Thomas, Paul Belford, Mike McQuade, Luke Evans, Bob and Roberta Smith, Stefan Sagmiester, Anish Kapoor…

Javier Jaén / Saul Steinberg / Lernert & Sander / Alan Fletcher 

5. Where was your first creative job? What did you learn?

My first job, first internship and current job, was/​is at Mytton Williams in Bath. I couldn’t have asked for a better start. I’ve learnt everything I know about commercial design, from managing expectations to selling ideas.

6. What’s your favourite piece of work you’ve created? 

From an aesthetic point of view, the trophies I designed for the British Athletics League. But the most rewarding piece I’ve made has been the NH-YES badge. I’ve had such a warm response from designers, NHS workers and the general public!

Trophies for the British Athletics League / NHS-YES badge

7. When you’re stuck in a rut, how do you get creative ideas flowing?

Switch jobs. Think of something else. Re-write the brief in different words. Flick through the D&AD annuals. Re-frame the question. And wait… Apparently your subconscious is aware of an idea 8 seconds before your conscious is. 

I’ve even tried thinking of the brief just as I fall asleep, to see if my dreams will conjure up an answer. This is yet to work. 

I’ve even tried thinking of the brief just as I fall asleep, to see if my dreams will conjure up an answer. This is yet to work. 

— Carl Godfrey

8. The worst thing that ever happened to you during one of your talks? 

Perhaps this will be my first and last…

9. The best book you’ve read lately?

I have habit of never quite finishing a book. So these are the ones that I’ve started and haven’t finished:

This is Going to Hurt — A shocking, heart warming and hilarious account of the NHS by former doctor Adam Kay

The Decent of Man — An eye opening perspective of how the world has been made for men by Grayson Perry

And anything by David Trott… Creative Mischief, 1+1=3 and Predatory Thinking.

10. If you could have a super power what would it be?

Fly. It’s an obvious one. But it would mean I’d get to work on time.

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