Andi Best, Best Freelance Design Ltd
Let’s have a coffee with Andi and find out a little bit more about him and his work. I met Andi via a Facebook group. I’ve admired his work since, and when I decided I was going to do this interview series I immediately knew I wanted him to be featured.
And if you’re not signed up to his email newsletter, you’re missing out on some great musings!
What coffee do you like to drink?
Tell me about the work you do
I label myself as a Freelance Creative, which is an all-encompassing term for the skills I have and services I offer. The individual components are digital design and development (websites, emails, apps), graphic design and illustration. At the time of writing I’ve been doing this for 14 years – the first 2 years in an odd triangular-shaped office where none of the furniture fit properly and the remainder from my decidedly more amazing home office.
Finish this sentence. Great design should be...
Great design should always solve a problem and in so doing, avoid creating new ones. In terms of graphic design the finished output should be clear, concise and conceptual to the point of being unique without compromising those first two aspects. It is an especially difficult Venn diagram to arrive at the centre of.
Finish this sentence. Great design elevates your brand by...
Great design elevates a brand by setting it apart from its competition, aesthetically, functionally and memorably. Having a logo where there once was an empty space is not having a ‘brand’. Great brand design is a product of exploring authentic ideas, responding to organic stimuli found in the business, and putting in the legwork of constantly regulating and evaluating its presence.
Merely ticking boxes, copying what the established guys are doing, and cutting corners with templates, generators and mills are guaranteed ways to miss the point entirely.
When lockdown eases, the first project I would like to design would be... because…
Understandably, rolling lockdowns haven’t been the ideal climate for breaking ground on new ventures. So fewer start-ups have come to me with branding pieces this past year – far fewer than any other year. Those that have have wanted a quick-turnaround solution to get up and running and recoup their losses as soon as possible.
Once all this germy nonsense is all over I’d like to see people invigorated to branch out into new projects. And with that a return to brand discovery work either in volume, or with a single client on a totally comprehensive brand authoring piece.
What piece of design do you wish you’d created?
Darren Newman unassumingly took social media by storm when he posted up his alternate take on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics logo. Not only was his version objectively more attractive and better composed than the official mark, it was also painfully simple by comparison. So simple in fact that it is embarrassing no one had come up with it sooner.
Its elements were all right there for the whole planet to see; Newman simply swooped in and found the perfect system to combine them. The resulting logo is familiar, scans well, and is logically supreme. God help anyone who had to continue on their own creative briefs after having seen that post.
What do you think makes someone a great designer?
A great designer is someone who knows what they’re talking about. Far too many practitioners in the space can push pixels around without justification behind their decisions. And without fully considering the real-world applications of their work, or without pushing back when a client loses sight of the vision and asks their hamster what they think about the font.
It’s very easy for a lesser designer to become transfixed with the aesthetics and take their eyes of the genesis of the brief – the aforementioned problem that needs solving. A great designer ensures that every aspect of the output circles back to solving that problem and is backed up by logic evidencing that it does.
If you weren't doing design, what would you be doing?
If design wasn’t a tool in my kit I’d fallback to one of those others cited earlier. But if I wasn’t doing anything visual at all I genuinely have no idea what I might have pursued. I’m not dreadful at writing and I have musical aptitude so perhaps a career in those spaces?
And finally, can you tell me about 3 other freelance designers or small biz owners whose work you admire
Rob (who goes by the moniker This Northern Boy) is an illustrator who day in day out celebrates his interests and he does it so well it’s paying dividends. People love the sincerity of his work. He’s just successfully launched and delivered his first book on Kickstarter which got overfunded and that came as a surprise to precisely no one.
Steve is probably going to come up a fair bit in this segment, but I am genuinely in awe of his positivity and energy. Running (and being a refreshingly active member of) his own online community, producing and promoting two podcasts AND working on his actual freelance gigs is beyond impressive; I have boundless respect for his work ethic.
Hanna is the owner and curator of Heavy Gretel, a bricks and mortar shop in my local town centre. I was dining out on a restaurant terrace one evening when I saw the disused shop next door having tools and materials escorted inside by chaps abound with tattoos and beards and an air of being generally a lot cooler than I am.
Among them was Hanna, and they were all rolling up their sleeves together to turn the space into their vision – a tattoo studio upstairs and an arts, design and crafts store below.
I admire Hannah not only because she’s a genuinely nice person, but because she’s very knowledgeable of her wares. She’s very supportive of local artists and is doing exceptionally well at finding ways to turn a profit and keep engaged with the community whilst having to repeatedly pull down the shutters of her shop for months at a time.