What’s up, Dan! Thank you for taking the time to have a chat with us, it’s much appreciated! Could you please introduce yourself to our readers and tell us a little bit more about the person behind the name Laika Graphics?
Hi! My name is Dan, I am 18 years old and am still in full-time education at the moment. The name comes from a Boston Manor song actually haha. I read up on the story behind the actual name and it upset me so much at the time that I ended up naming my graphics page about it. I never expected it to grow like it did and it has definitely been the 2 best years of my life so far.
Is design/art always been something you gravitated towards?
I always had a passion for creation. I could never really pinpoint what it was exactly I wanted to do though. I liked painting for quite a while and basic illustration. But never really knew how to take it further than that. I started off with just a Twitter page by just creating “lyric banners” where I’d just sort of overlay glitch textures and do funky things with Typography, if you scroll down my Twitter they are all still there.
How did you come about starting up Laika Graphics and how did the project kick off?
I had a lot of spare time and had spent years loving music. I always liked creating paintings and drawings about my music but wanted to refine it. I didn’t really know what “graphic design” was formally. I had a creative cloud subscription, so just started messing around with it and teaching myself how to use it.
What is your motivation behind mostly working within the music scene?
My dad introduced me to heavy metal when I was quite young. I remember liking While She Sleeps for the longest time – as far as I can remember they were the first proper “metal” band I fell in love with. I remember loving Ska for ages and I still hold a very special place for Pop Punk. It’s just so ingrained into the lifestyle I live now that it would almost be silly not to if you get what I mean haha. Working with artists and being able to now write music is genuinely my biggest passion in life – I never get bored of it and always just want to create.
How would you describe your style of design?
I’d say industrial style, it’s got a certain level of grittiness to it, but I still absolutely love my clean shit, I really love to mix those two together, I definitely feel it’s a sort of polarising style though because some clients come to me expecting a style – and sometimes I’ll give them something completely different.
Any of your personal favourites that you would like to mention on here?
The Northlane merch I did was a personal highlight, the T-Shirt I did for Alpha Wolf is one of my favourites, also I did some merch for a band called Viridian which I absolutely adore.
Feel Shame and Vilify are both amazing bands who I have worked with, also another lovely artist from Australia called Rav Doa who I did some bits for earlier this year.
On that note, how was it working with While She Sleeps on those bits? Do you mind telling us the story and walk us through the process?
While She Sleeps was absolutely amazing to work with – they held a design competition through their Patreon, I spent ages trying to think of what I’d do. I remember I was walking home from college and I got the idea and just kind of went “Aha! I’ve finally got it!!” hahaha
I honestly didn’t expect to win, Mat was great to jump on a call with, he showed me some really cool tips which I had never even thought of before. He’s a really talented artist himself and it was an honour to collaborate on that shirt with them.
According to you, what is the role of a graphic designer and where should the designer’s priorities be when working on a commission?
Make sure your client is happy with their work – and for me – making sure I am also happy with it. I won’t really sign off on something unless I am 100% pleased with how it’s turned out. If I don’t post a client bit to my socials it’s probably because I was busy and forgot!
What daily habits do you put in place to help you keep productive with your design work and education?
Haha, I am not productive at all, I make a rule of not sitting there and staring at the open photoshop file – because inspiration will NEVER come to me like that. I usually get ideas by people watching, on like a bus or something. It does help if I actively think, but usually, I’ve got some music on and I can just fully zone out and just let my mind wander. I like to doodle, on my desk and I’m dependant on caffeine I suppose, I don’t really have any daily habits.
What software do you primarily use when working on designs? Any hardware/software that you want to mention that makes your life easier?
Photoshop alllll the way, I’ve started dipping my toes into Illustrator because for the longest time I was super stubborn and thought it sucked. I realise why it’s useful now though. Unsplash and Pexels are great for license-free photos – and a big shoutout to Fullermoe and Studio Innate for so many of the amazing textures and assets they allow me to use.
Any plans for 2022 that we should be on the lookout for?
Ooh, I’m planning some new clothing drops for next year with my brand Laika Supply (printed with Pins & Knuckles as per usual) – also some huge bits (for me) with my band Jawbone. I’m planning to do a bit of a revamp to the way I work with clients and the way I go about presenting my designs for sale and stuff.
Where can our readers stay up to date with all your ventures and future collaborations and commissions?
@laikagraphics on literally everything!
I also have an online portfolio at www.laikagraphics.co.uk
If you’re really dedicated to supporting me: my band @wearejawbone!
Thank you for this, it’s actually been surreal just writing this up, big up Pins & Knuckles, they make the drops a reality, and I have never been more thankful for the people who work there – and for them putting up with my 100’s of questions.