We're kicking off 2023 with a very special Meet the Maker featuring our very kind, supremely talented and impeccably styled friend, Indie Mathers. He is the Creative Director of Skin+Bones studio and the mastermind behind our AW22 'Make it Personal' campaign. We talked to Indie about his journey into design, his collaborative approach to achieving his client's visions and the creative's who have inspired and influenced his practice.
Tell us about your background, how did you get started in creative direction and design?
I’ve always been interested in art, fashion and design but was working in a completely different arena until I joined one of the top London design agencies in my early twenties. I started as a studio junior with no brand design knowledge but I remember having tons of passion and was really commited. I look back and realise how lucky I was to get that break. It wasn’t just the job. I was fortunate enough to work and learn from some brilliant and super talented people who I still speak with now. I guess I had the creative eye but not the disciplines and needed to get my head around the software fast!
After a few years I joined another agency as a mid-weight designer, then another as a senior and then finally ended up with my own design studio 10 years ago.
You have an agency called Skin+Bones, can you tell us about the work you do?
Skin+Bones is a multi-disciplinary design studio which offers a complete brand design service. We work with new start-ups or already established brands that need evolving or are looking for something different.
It could be a logo design, website, ad campaign, social content, book, brochure, magazine, photography, packaging... we offer it all. We collaborate with a diverse range of talented creatives to deliver the client brief.
What influences your work? Are there any designers, creators or makers that have inspired you throughout your career?
I am constantly inspired by fashion, art and music. Attitude, innovation and graphics born from those three disciplines always resonate with me and often lend themselves to the projects delivered. I love the record sleeves and posters born out of Factory in the late eighties and early nineties, that whole era was amazing for design.
Peter Saville and the guys at Central Station Design in Manchester were and are still doing some brilliant things. Barney Bubbles is another one. His alternative way of thinking is always inspiring. Nowadays I don’t have a particular designer or maker I follow. I’m constantly inspired by the diverse and talented people I meet on a day to day basis. Whether that be a writer, photographer, designer, Artist, stylist, marketeer or someone down the pub. I meet and know some really cool folk and try to educate myself from them all.
What’s your process? How do you get started with a brief?
Before the project kicks off I always try and make face-to-face contact with the client. I never want to just be that person at the end of a keyboard. I want to know and understand my clients so it’s important to meet them even on zoom. All briefs are different in their own way but generally I break the brief down and consider all aspects before getting back to the client with any questions.
If we’re working on a logo design I usually create a mind map of the project, then try to find a common thread amongst it all. When I’m happy with the outcome of that I’ll start sketching out designs and usually go through the process of thinking somethings great, then totally rubbish and then hopefully in the end out pops something that I’m really happy with. I then just hope the client is as well. It’s always good to have a story behind the design. That always goes down well!
What projects are you most proud of?
Some people say you’re only as good as your last project and if that’s the case then I’m proud as punch as the last project was the Autumn/Winter Campaign for Meet Bernard! We have worked on many brand campaigns but usually another creative will supply us with the photography or copy and then we create the assets based on a guideline. However, for the Meet Bernard Campaign we were on board from the birth of the concept to delivering all the print and digital creative. It was great to do the location recce’s, choose the models, direct the shoot, select the images and deliver the final campaign. To then see it all come alive online and via the print campaign was a very proud moment.
Another stand-out moment was working on Jocks&Nerds magazine - a beautiful style bible covering music, fashion and culture. The magazine is an absolute favourite of mine so working alongside the editor in creating the latest issues was a magical experience. There’s so many talented and inspiring people involved in that mag...it’s amazing!
If you could work with any person or brand, who would be your ideal client?
I can’t imagine Peter Saville ever being a client but it would be amazing to work with him. He’s a complete legend. Not sure we’d get much work done as I’d be bending is ear too much about the Madchester Days! Adidas are a favourite, Fred Perry do some great brand events which would be cool to get involved with, The Great Frog would be special. I might consider Gucci if they got in touch!
You’re based in London, would you say that your surroundings influence your work?
I wouldn’t say my work is influenced solely by living in London. Obviously London is incredibly diverse and one of the most creative cities in the world so of course living within all of that does have a bearing on my influences but I think we’re all influenced by everything global nowadays. That might be African Art, South American Music, Euro Architecture, American Films - it goes on and on. I’m always up for checking out something new that someone has suggested which may influence a thought or direction for a project.
What do you love about SE London? Can you share some of your favourite places with us?
I’ve lived in North, East and SW London but have since settled in SE London. We’re currently in Beckenham. It was an area we used to drive through and thought it would make a great place to live and bring up the kids. We’re just a stones throw from Crystal Palace which we love. It’s always buzzin’ up there.
There’s endless vintage shops, pubs, the Everyman Cinema and the park. Pop down to Haynes Lane Market for some great food and vintage treasures, Westow House for a top pint or if you want a proper Sunday lunch head to The Greyhound down the road in Sydenham.
Are there any South London creatives that we should know about?
Best creatives to come out of SE London are two of my favourite people. The Electric Riot were a brilliant band who created some amazing and dirty uplifting dance tunes. Tim who led the line is an awesome creative who never sits still! Have a listen to their album Love Will Never Die on Soundcloud. Unfortunately they’ve now embarked on different creative journeys but the album is great and sounds as fresh as ever.
And you should check out Jo O’hanlon if you need anyone to help with your set designs. Creativity is in her soul...she’s an absolute magician.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
We’re currently working on two really cool projects which are set to launch in early 2023. A tasty book and the roll out of a new brand for an exciting Soho venture.
If you enjoyed this read then be sure to take a look through Indie's Skin+Bones portfolio and give him a follow on Instagram too.