Brothers Mark and Christopher Thomson founded their eponymous studio in 2004 as a multi-disciplinary agency specialising in design and art direction. Since then they have forged a reputation as one of London’s leading creative studios, working with an eclectic roster of clients from photographers and musicians to Duffer, The Design Museum and the UK Music Video Awards.
On the value of time restrictions…
It depends on the client's needs, but they usually set the time schedule, as they often have a specific deadline in mind for a particular project. For example, we do a lot of work for clients in the fashion industry and so there are strict deadlines set every season for show invites and lookbooks. We find that it’s healthy to have set time schedules in place as it means that the client and the agency are focused on delivering a successful solution to the project.
Sometimes great, instinctive ideas can come out of very tight deadlines, whereas a project with a long deadline can cause you to lose momentum.
On minimising the potential for misinterpretation…
Meeting a client in person allows you to get a real sense of what they want from you creatively, and as the project develops, it allows the client to feel included in the creative process. Often ideas and thoughts can get misinterpreted through other forms of communication such as email, and so we find that important decisions about a project can be made much more quickly in a one-to-one meeting with the client.
It’s usually more convenient to meet the client at their office as time is often an issue, but we have found that sometimes meeting in a neutral location can be beneficial as it takes the designer and client out of their natural environment, which can often inspire new creative ideas.
On the best basis for working well …
Mutual respect can be established very quickly in a relationship if the client already has an admiration of your work, and if the designer likes and understands the brand. Ideally the client would have approached you because they like your work and feel that it will be beneficial for their company, and from a designer’s perspective it’s important to invest time in fully understanding the client and their needs.
We always strive to connect with the client on a personal level too, so that we can create great work together and make it a fun experience at the same time. I think you can get a good sense of whether your relationship with the client will be successful very early on in the process, and we do our best to avoid difficult, rude or disrespectful people in general.
More often than not, mutual respect is earned through hard work and by showing that your skills are best suited to the client's needs.
Why things are better together…
We always like to include the client at all stages of a project so that they feel integral to the process and share a real pride in being on the team – we want them to say to people, "Look what we did" rather than "This is what the designer came up with."
We aim to gain the client’s trust early on so that creativity can blossom from the very beginning; a good creative connection comes out of a mutual appreciation of design and we always like to talk through our influences and inspirations with the client, presenting them with mood-documents that show style and direction to support the creative thought process.