Week 8 of Baseline shift this term presented graphic designers and co-owners of the studio Design Print Bind, Flaminia Rossi and Samantha Whetton. They talked to us about freelancing experience, design communities they are a part of, as well as some of their personal projects.
‘We love to help people publish their work.’
Not only do Samantha and Flaminia work with collaborations like ‘United Voices of the World’ and ‘Designers + Cultural Workers’ to improve the lives of those suffering from discrimination and workplace injustice, they also predominantly help people who would not be able to publish books if it weren’t for them.
More often than not these remarkable women help their clients create content along the way, getting involved as early as possible to help guide and challenge them as a project evolves. Design Print Bind offers client consultations, thereby ‘minimising the back and forth between client and printer’.
One way in which Design Print Bind manages to cater to clients with a lower budget is through the use of facilities at the London Centre for Book Arts, of which they are both members. This communal space allows them to produce intricate designs, such as the DPB book of poems they brought along to show us.
The experience of working in DPB
Being part of such a community allows Samantha and Flaminia to learn as they go when working on design projects – from boxing posters to website branding and instructional booklets to name a few, but to also attend and teach workshops at the facility. Both have shown great enthusiasm for learning more from their students at the University of Kingston, each other and other members at the London Centre for Book Arts whether artists, writers or fellow designers. So, it comes as no surprise that Design Print Bind experiments a lot with their materials while being conscious of the client’s limitations.
While they work on a variety of projects, a lot of Samantha’s work is centred around A6 books such as the Reading Room project. If you are interested in creating your own book, Samanatha and Flaminia have suggested reading ‘Making books: A Guide to Creating Hand-crafted Books’ by Simon Goode and Ira Yonemura, sold by the London Centre for Book Arts. They also reminded us all to ‘put in more time than you need, especially with print’, so don’t expect perfection on the first try and keep on trying. From personal experience, they said they always experience setbacks when printing a project, just like many of the people Samantha and Flaminia deem experts at the London Centre for Book Arts.
Samantha and Flaminia truly value the communities they are a part of, the opportunities to grow and get feedback from other professionals and gather further insight for the future from their many collaborations. They attribute a lot of their success as freelancers to the networks they have grown over the years through their many projects, experiences and collaborations. While both Samantha and Flaminia don’t hide the struggle which comes from being a freelancing graphic designer, they shared some tips with us to improve the chances for success.
They also suggested taking on some volunteering work to grow your experience and network. It can open new doors as it has done for Flaminia in the past, and they both suggest you should combine volunteering with causes you believe in so that even if it doesn’t evolve past that stage, you won’t feel as though it was for nothing.
Growing a network doesn’t happen overnight as, while word of mouth does spread and bring in some jobs for Design Print Bind, Flaminia and Samantha recommended nudging potential clients ahead of time; using a simple email means that when they need someone, they’re likely to think back to you and get in touch. Moreover, you should start building your network now, don’t wait – as a university student you come across many designers, so take advantage and start building your connections.
Learning about the experiences and the process of Flaminia and Samantha at DPB was inspiring. As they explained some of the physical methods of designing and binding, it even made us excited to get back in the Department and test more! The workshops DPB outlined in the session allowed us to digest more about their goals and methods in designing, printing and binding; a skill every designer needs to have a background in!
Here are links to Deign Print Bind’s email and Instagram, which Samantha and Flaminia suggested you contact if you have any questions or want to get in touch.
As well as some useful links about printing & binding:
‘I really liked the presentation of their experimentation, introduction to the community freelancers use and their experiences.’ – Part 1 student
‘One of the things that drew me to the Department was its interest in printing and physical methods. So, having a guest that reminds me of that thing that sets Reading apart was really lovely. Some awesome work shown!’ – Robin Smith, Part 3