Interview: Kevin Walsh of Harlequin Studio

Today we bring you another interview with an exciting designer, Kevin Walsh. Kevin is the artistic director of small graphic design company; Harlequin Studio, coming out of Merseyside here in the UK. We are privileged to bring with you this interview myself and kevin collated over the past week and its a great feeling to showcase the works of a fellow UK designer.

Hi Kevin, It’s a pleasure to introduce to our Design Juices readers to another great interviewee today. Can you firstly introduce yourself to our readers. What it is your background in design is? and where you currently work?

Well guys and gals I’m Kevin Walsh, I am currently owner and Artistic Director of Harlequin Studio which is a small graphic design studio based in Merseyside, England. My background in design is somewhat unorthodox, I am completely self taught. I started out creating digital art and photo-manipulations after being introduced to Adobe Creative Suit by a friend. My interest then progressed into more of the graphic design side of things after i was told by a few graphic designers that i should be doing this after they fell upon my work. Its been a super steep learning curve and a lot of hard work, but so is anything worth doing.

How did your skills develop being self taught, was it a long process? What were the main stumbling blocks in the road?

My skills developed from allot of trial and error. I love nothing more then sitting round and playing with the software to see what it is capable of. I also used to love entering contests, your skills really improve quick when you are pushing yourself to a deadline. Along with that though i cannot recommend the use of online tutorials enough for a beginner into this field. You can learn so much from these tutorial sites. The biggest stumbling block has been not having a “teacher” so to speak, i missed having someone to bounce ideas off and to tell me when i was going wrong. I think that would have saved me time and allot of mistakes.

We see from your bio that you are the artistic director for the Harlequin design studio, what kind of tasks do you undertake on a daily basis?

Well as i am also the owner you can imagine my day is very busy. I am responsible for everything from paying bills to making sure people we work with get paid on time. Most of my time is taken up with trying to find new clients and new exciting freelancers to work with. As creative director any spare time i do have is spent in a hands on position designing as much as i can. I also liaise with any other freelancers we work with. Oh and obviously keeping up with twitter lol.

What kinds of work does harlequin design studio undertake? how was the company formed?

Harlequin specialises in design for print situations where the client is looking for a new and exciting way to get their idea and potential across to an ever changing and vibrant client base. Our passion also includes helping new unsigned bands create an image for themselves with CD artwork and posters. The company was formed in 2010 after i decided to take the plunge and make my own way in the business. I was trying to get work as a designer with established companies but, due to the economic situation, i could not find anyone who was willing to take a chance on me. So i decided that if they were not willing to help me then i would show them what they missed out on. Its has been, and still is, a difficult struggle to get recognised and known by our clients, but its been well worth it.

Where is Harlequin studios based? Do you have your own Harlequin towers? and is there a limit globally/nationally to where you are willing to accept work from?

I wish their was a Harlequin Towers, Harlequin is currently based in my home and on computers around the country depending on who is currently working with us. I do have plans to move into a office soon. The reason i have kept it like this so far is that there are very limited overheads this way and i get to work with some amazing artists using the Internet as out office space. Their are no real limits to where we will accept work from. As long as Harlequin and the client are on the same page i don’t see why boarders are an issue. That is the beauty of the Internet these days it allows you to work with, and get work from, people you would never have come in contact with otherwise.

What are typical projects that clients come to you with on a weekly basis? What should people do if they wanted to contact you regarding work?

Most of our clients are small independent business’ or recent start-ups who are looking to establish a brand and image. So most of our bread and butter work is design for print items, such as business cards, leaflets, logos, etc. We also have a passion for supporting the local music scene, so we spend allot of our free time creating album art and promotional material for bands who are on a tight budget. Including MySpace layouts and apparel designs.
If people are interested in contacting us, you can get hold of us on our site or our twitter @KevinGraphic or email us at Letting us know your interested in our work and we will take it from there.

Do you have any particular favourite projects you have worked on?

I would say my piece for London Transport Museum and the City of London promoting the use of Cycling would have to be my favourite. I wanted to create something eye-catching and modern, but that carried the message across to the viewer.

What has the advent of social media meant for yourself personally and your business? How would you expect to use social media in the future?

Well social media has always been around for me, but i must admit it has helped allot. Having that option to easily contact your target audience as well as other designers has made life so much easier. Soon, we are hoping to offer a fully integrated service for small business that will take social media and use it to their advantage. The limits of twitter and Facebook are endless.

Would you recommend to our readers any particular favourite people to follow from your social media circle?

Apart from your good selves i would recommend you follow @swissmiss who’s insights are great and Bosslogic who’s artwork is beyond this world. But most of all I recommend you follow some people who make you laugh as this job can be very lonely and stressful at times and we all need someone to lighten the day.

What has 2011 been like so far in terms of business? Do you have any big plans you have tell us about for the rest of 2011 and beyond?

I’m not going to lie and say this year has been great so far, it hasn’t. Government spending cuts seem to have slowed the influx of work. It has been picking up recently and i am hoping that its just a blip in the overall recovery of the economy and our workload. I have found that being flexible and offering some great incentives have helped bring in the work when its been dry. Well 2011 will also see an expansion in what we do, we will be launching Harlequin Apparel, a clothing company that will specialise in being different and help you stand out from the crowd. I know allot of people will be asking themselves why i am expanding if this yeah has been slow, but my motto is you only get to where you want to be by hard work and risk taking. You don’t get nowhere by sitting on you bum and playing safe, you have to take it.

Tell me more about Harlequin apparel? What was its motivation? & Do you have a time frame on when this project maybe launched?

Well Harlequin Apparel came to me as an idea i had at the start of my journey to become a graphic designer. It stemmed from the lack of, what i called, interesting t-shirts. The t-shirts have a modern twist that will make you stand out from the crowd. I am hoping to work with some amazing designers in the future on this project, so if anyone is interested in being an apparel artist get in touch . I am hoping that this will be launched by summer, there are a few designs already finished and I’m currently just getting quotes for the manufacturing of the tees. So keep an eye out on our twitter and site for more info.

We must offer up our thanks to another interviewee, taking their time out to work with us today. Be sure to check out Harlequin Studio and follow kevin on twitter @KevinGraphic.