Commission Studio

After working at various studios, David McFarline and Christopher Moorby set up design and branding consultancy Commission Studio in 2013. They have worked with clients like It’s Nice That, COS and Music From Memory.

On steering clear of company politics... Clients with differing opinions internally set alarm bells ringing. It implies a lack of vision on their side and the potential for politics. Company politics is the worst thing to deal with on a job; steer well clear of becoming embroiled in that.

An owner who doesn’t want change, but a marketing manager that does; that can be another danger. Having to fight against a client to achieve a good piece of design is so tiring. People can be won over and educated of course, but it becomes an unnecessary hurdle. You should be in it together, united from the outset.

Why clients need to choose the designers they work with carefully... It depends on the client’s own creative calibre really, but anyone can have a good idea. If their intern has a good idea, let’s hear it. Working collaboratively, but understanding your roles, that’s the key. If you’re hiring someone to do a job for you, you should have faith in your selection and let them work. This is why — as a client — it's really important that the selection process is thorough and you are absolutely sure about the creative talent you're hiring.

Why parameters are paramount... Creative freedom is great once parameters have been set, but we need those initial constraints in place to help define a solution. A totally blank canvas is terrifying to be honest. It’s suited to art, not graphic design. It's a creative industry, but it is still a service industry; your work needs to satisfy something, it needs to answer something. And you need a problem in order to create a solution.

The best thing a client can do is to lay the problem out thoroughly through a good briefing. They’re effectively laying the tracks down to get you to the solution. This doesn’t have to be a written brief per se — an in-depth discussion can often be more useful — but it’s essential to know what everyone wants to achieve from the process. What should the outcome be at the end? A clear target means everyone knows where they’re going; a good brief cuts a path to get there.

Why it’s good to be able to argue... The closer you are, the bigger the arguments you can have creatively. If that relationship isn’t in place from the outset and you have a big creative bust-up, then there's no solid foundation to go back to. So long as you're all working to the same goal, you can always find compromise. You just might be coming at the same solution from different directions. A good creative fight can often leave you more satisfied with a job; it’s boring getting away with everything you want all the time!

On how they approach client relationships as a new studio... Fortunately we have managed to find work through people we have had working relationships with in the past which means the tone has been set to a degree. That said, as a new studio we have a lot to prove, so I’d say it’s perhaps more challenging as we’re an unknown quantity to new clients. We speak very passionately and transparently about design so I think people can feed off an enthusiasm and an honesty. Above all you just have to be yourself and hopefully people will click with you.

Starting up and maintaining good relationships with clients has always been an integral part of our job before we started our own thing. We certainly don’t have a “style” or an “approach” to dealing with people as every client is so different. You have to be adaptable.