5 minutes read

Creatopy Design Talk Craig Barber

If you are a designer you should already know about the Makerbook project (a hand-picked directory of the best free resources for creatives) but let me ask you something, do you know who is the guy behind this beautiful project? 

Today we will talk with Craig Barber, who is a Senior Creative / Art Director based in London, United Kingdom. He describe himself as a Lover of creative, tech and startups. Drinks lots of coffee and makes cool things like https://techstarrr.com 

You can follow him on Twitter .


Give us a brief overview of your career and what first sparked your interest in design?

Design for me started when I was as something like 8 years old. I used to customize my motocross helmet with all sorts of home made vinyl – the stuff you covered your homework books in. It was all about customizing stuff. BMX – paint it. Matchbox car – draw stripes on it.

[Tweet “That’s the start of design, it’s about making something yours through customization.”]


What difficulties did you face at the beginning of your career?

Your work at the start is shit. It really is.

I thought I got most of the crap out of my system at University. I think that’s what ‘study’ is for really. Get all the crap stuff out of your system and by the time you start working your stuff will be half decent. Then again it’s a process that takes years. I’m definitely doing the best stuff I’ve ever done now.

That’s what you’re paying for. 15 years of getting better.


What do you enjoy most about your career?

Using my creative for good and not evil. And by that I mean using your creative flow to think up cool things that will benefit myself directly.

A lot of creatives are simply farming their creativity out. That’s fine. We’ve all been there but when you truly create stuff for yourself it’s really fulfilling and can really pay off big time.


Who have been some of your most significant mentors?

I’ve worked with a few inspiring creative directors over the years, guys that are really good. A guy called Chris Jones was pretty awesome.

Other than that I am always reading up and enjoying blog posts from folks who are creating things in the startup space making awesome products and so on. I also love people that can make stuff technically.

If I could code as well as design that would be pretty sweet.


How do you stay engaged and creative?

[Tweet “Make it. Get it out there. If people like it. It’s awesome.”]

There’s nothing, nothing like the buzz of when you make something and get it out there and people are into it. If you make it and put it out there and no one notices there’s usually a reason. It’s probably shit.

But I do like the process of getting people engaged and staying engaged with your work. It’s great.


What frustrates you about the creative process?

Same as every other designer I guess.

Someone telling you to change something and it makes it worse. We’ve all been there.

Design by committee or whatever.


What is your definition of a creative person?

Someone who has vision.

[Tweet “Being creative is all about vision.”]

To take something really small and undeveloped and execute it into something grand. That’s a creative person. Doesn’t matter what your job title is. Fuck precious creatives. You’re not special. Be open, be a visionary who can bring things to life. It’s not all about ideas either.

Ideas are easy and they are often shit and no one wants them.

That’s why you gotta act on stuff.

Get it out there and the people will be the judge. Good or bad. Successful or unsuccessful.

What’s the grandest scale project you’ve ever worked on?

Makerbook. My first site to get over a million page views in just 3 months. Thank you people.


Tell us more about Makerbook and why is an important platform for the creative one?


Makerbook is simply a website that contains links to the best free resources for creatives. Only the best. Only free stuff. People seem to like it.

I still use the site myself daily if I need some stock photography or a .PSD mockup. That says something.


How do you go about approaching a new project, in terms of design?

Go around and screenshot all the best stuff you can find that is related to your project. Essentially rip off all the best bits and make something new.

Colours are a big deal also. Go to one of the colour swatch sites and find the most popular colour swatch and use that. Lastly quality stock photography matters now more than ever.

Use only the best stock photography for your layouts. Use Stocksy or Unsplash is always good. Bold. Simple.

[Tweet “People will always try to make it more complicated so start simple.”]


Any advice for young creatives looking to make a first impression with their portfolio?

Make something relevant.

Follow trends and make stuff that is trending right now. People want to see stuff that is current.

This is how you will get noticed.

Do small projects that you can do really well and that are on trend at the moment.

For example content marketing is hot right now. Do some awesome examples of that. People love to see what is relevant reflected in your folio.

Secondly learn to start mastering the media. If you create something you think is pretty awesome, submit it to all the design blogs out there and get some media hype.

I hassle Design Taxi all the time. This is how to get ahead.

Get your stuff seen in the media.

Don’t be humble.

No one gives a shit about the humble guy.

You gotta be bold.


Could you make some predictions about design in advertising for 2016?

Content marketing is gonna get better and more of it.

I will also be concentrating on stuff that is more street level. Stuff that will trigger your mobile and be more location based. People are too focused solely on internet, screen based stuff. There is a world out there that does not involve looking at a laptop screen or staring at a mobile screen.

This is where the future is.

You have to think in terms of design that is gonna be a hybrid of screen and real life.

Why do you think Google is now Alphabet? They are focusing on more than advertising on search engines.


Could you recommend two or more resources for designers that are reading our blog?

Yes, I’m currently reading everything that Ryan Holiday ( ryanholiday.net ) has ever written. He’s a very smart guy with a lot of great insights to creativity and strategy.

Also I recommend SiteInspire ( https://www.siteinspire.com/ ) and also Behance.net is always great to check out what’s fresh.


What is your daily motto?

Fortune favours the bold.

I stole that one off Zuckerberg.


Tea or coffee?

Coffee and fuckloads of it.

Robert Katai
Robert Katai is the Product Marketing Specialist at Creatopy. His work was featured on Adweek, Entrepreneur, Marketing Profs, Content Marketing Institute and other places.

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