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Guest artist... James Ockelford

Branding supremo, graphic designer and Refold founder, James Ockelford, has been in the design game for a cool 20 years, designing across a wide range of disciplines. From gig projections, event magazines and posters in his early days, to his famous North Brewing Co. designs, there isn’t much commercial work James hasn’t had his hand in. Read all about his fascinating collaborations over the years and how his brilliant design for Ootrey could look just as good on a can of porter
Guest artist... James Ockelford

by Matthew Taylor

3 years ago

“After working for various design agencies, I set Refold up about 15 years ago. Where does the time go?

“The confidence to trust my own tastes and instincts is something that has grown slowly and steadily over the years... I’m so pleased when anyone buys a poster, a book or just a beer (and likes the label). It makes me want to keep on producing my own work.

“Over the years, I’ve designed record sleeves, books, posters, fanzines, bags, t-shirts, experimental films and beer labels... I even created my first cycling kit last year.

“My design style is informed by mid-century modernism... It’s often modular, minimal and colourful. I think these influences resonate with people who like my work. It connects them to a time in the past when it was possible to be more optimistic about the future.  

“I’m currently working on a lot of beer labels for North Brewing Co… I’m also involved in making a series of experimental films with sound artist Justin Wiggan. The film series is under the title Plastiktonez and incorporates work by a variety of amazing writers and visual artists. These films were to be toured around the country but will now only be seen via online events due to the pandemic.

“I really enjoy working with sound artists, musicians and venues... My dream collaboration would be to work with musicians, Stars of the Lid, or Loscil (or if Fridge reformed), on a large installation somewhere exciting. 

“If I was to offer up-and-coming creatives in my industry any advice, it would be to pursue work you really enjoy... Try not to be influenced by current trends but focus on developing work you genuinely find rewarding. When you’re creatively stuck, I recommend selecting an album to accompany that piece of work you’re struggling with then listen to that album whilst going for a walk. Design in your mind as you walk and listen… 

“As a result of the pandemic, I have learnt how important it is to get into nature regularly... Walking is essential for my well being

“When creating my notebook and print for Ootrey, I just thought about how I’d like a notebook to look - minimal palette and design. It also occurred to me it would be a good thing if the notebook helped you get into a productive, creative mindset, so I took inspiration from the idea of old worker punch timecards. The design sort of illustrates the idea of someone getting busier and busier.

“It’s perfect for anyone with a bit of a thing for modernism, or North bar cans, or both. This type of design could quite easily have appeared on a can of porter.”

Instagram: @refold 

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