Artist spotlight: Gordon Reid
by Dinah Hillsdon
posted on 08-08-2017
Gordon Reid’s conquered the UK. And he’s now set his sights upon the USA. We came across the self-confessed ‘blagger’ (note: a British term, ‘to blag’, meaning being able to get something via persuasion, with a little luck thrown in), after his watching him on the livestream sessions at OFFF in Barcelona. Since then, we’ve seen him everywhere, from Adobelive with Michael Chaize in Paris, to speaking at D&AD in London. With such design presence in Europe, we reckon he’s got a strong chance of cracking America in 2018.
ADOBE STOCK: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your creative background?
Gordon Reid: Hi, I’m Gordon Reid, owner of Middle Boop which is a design agency focused on art direction, branding, graphic design and illustration. I live in Hackney and have a studio over in Stoke Newington. I started working mainly in the music industry then moved onto advertising where I am fortunate to have worked with and learned from some of the best in the industry, having worked at Saatchi & Saatchi, Grey, McCann and Adam & Eve DDB. I’ve worked with some of the biggest brands in the world in anything from the the Rio Olympics advertising, Nike, HSBC, GSK, Natwest, Lucozade, etc. to some popular bands like Mogwai, Bombay Bicycle Club and Newton Faulkne. But I love working with startup brands, products that are trying to find their voice and make a name for themselves by growing their brand. Those are the most exciting. I have worked with the D&AD for a couple of years now and also judged Creative Circle and Cannes Young Lions. I am currently touring my latest talk ‘Blag, Borrow and Steal your career’ around the world and have spoken all over Europe and just about to tackle America.
AS: You go by the name ‘Middle Boop’. What’s the background behind the name?
GR: Ah yes, well that name all came about when I was still at university. The deal was that I never wanted to do an internship, work for free and end up with the only way forward to become a junior designer earning his stripes by doing all of the crap work that no one else wanted to do. I just wanted to do my own thing, create my own work without having to deal with tight client specifications. I realised the value of creating quality work and figured, if I could do my own thing, create my own style and voice and gain my own clients, I could bypass all of that design agency stuff. Which….Thankfully worked in the end, after a few years of working out of my mums house creating posters for bands and fighting to earn some money. But to do all of this, I needed a name. Middle Boop came about as an in-joke between friends at a festival. It really doesn’t mean anything but, what it did was get me to the top of Google (as no one else in the world would have this sort of ridiculous name), and has had people asking the question about what the name is about ever since!
AS: How would you describe your style?
GR: Irreverent, geometric, vibrant and a total blag.
AS: Where do you find your inspiration?
GR: All over the place really, mostly me just meandering through day to day life and finding inspiration from things all around me, anything from an interaction to travel. I’m inspired a lot by old school British colloquialisms and humour.
AS: What’s been your biggest challenge to overcome in the design industry?
GR: Keeping ahead of the game has always been my biggest challenge. Keeping on top of new trends and making sure that, although I need to be aware of them, ensuring that my work doesn’t fall into the trap of a certain trend or style that will only be en vogue for a certain amount of time. I learned that lesson the hard way in the heady days of digital illustration. Getting known for doing one thing and one thing well is extremely important and necessary when you’re trying to find your voice and make a name for yourself in the industry, so people remember you and recognise your style. Like all of the great logos, you can take away the name of the brand and still instantly recognise that brand. You need your audience to recognise your work without really thinking about it. The flip side is, once you’ve established yourself, how do you stay ahead of the game and make sure yours is a style that is versatile enough to last and not age badly, on top of that, a style that works for all of the new technologies and trends that come out, so that you can build your career and evolve.
AS: What are your perceptions of stock images, and do you think the perception is changing?
GR: I think stock imagery and stock graphics can be a huge help for any creative for all sorts of reasons. Time is a massive one, stock sites can save so much time when trying to illustrate a particular message and sell in an idea, effective use of stock imagery can really speed up the process. The amount of ads and concepts I’ve worked on over the years where you comp together a few stock images and suddenly bring that image to life has saved me days and days. Also obviously it’s cost effective too, although some concepts are too abstract and it’s unavoidable to just shoot it, most ideas and concepts you can get away with using stock imagery to sell that idea in. People have also certainly been known to use stock imagery for final application of ads and graphics too. The quality of some of these images are undeniable so why not? I think as sites like Adobe Stock are coming into the forefront, perceptions are certainly changing and moving away from the ‘watermarked, white teeth, cheesy grinning office worker’ shots that are readily available in some of the cheaper sites and more towards these sites being a total necessity in our industry.
AS: What’s been your favorite project to work on to date?
GR: Well I have to say, my favourite project recently was working with your good selves on the Adobe Live three day project with Michael Chaize, where I was filmed creating a piece, talking through my work and application for two hours over three days. That was such a unique project and I got to meet so many awesome people and get to know the Adobe community a lot better. Really enjoyable. I also got to work on the entire look and feel for the music festival Hijacked. That was so cool. It all started from one illustrated poster and then we built the entire brand and strategy around that. It ended up with all of the stages being crafted with huge 3D workings of my artwork. Incredible.
AS: What are you excited to work on in 2017?
GR: There’s so much I want to do this year really. I’m very excited about getting out on the road more and touring my talk ‘blag borrow and steal your career.’ So far I’ve been all over Europe and am heading out to America this summer to do a few more conferences. On top of that, I’ve got some great projects just about to start, from branding, illustration, packaging and advertising. There are some cool brands I’ll be working with hopefully too so I’m definitely pumped to see how those go down.
AS: What music do you currently listen to whilst working (if any!)?
GR: I listen to so much music really. I’ve been working in the music industry since I started designing and thankfully with that I’ve been fortunate enough to tour and be pals with some amazing musicians and bands who send me their music. I basically listen to very noisy, heavy droney stuff, East coast rap, and all sorts of other depressing stuff.
AS: What design trends should we be looking out for this year?
GR: Anything I’m doing, keep an eye on my work and that will keep you busy ha.