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April 19, 2017 - No Comments!

OFFF Barcelona 2017

It seems a lifetime ago already, but we spent a few days in sunny Barcelona at the beginning of April for OFFF. Eating burgers, drinking beer and listening to inspiring talks.

We're fully aware of the impact these events can have. Visiting Offset in Dublin back in 2014 was a catalyst for how our design direction developed. We went to that event as fairly young, naive designers, and our eyes were well and truly opened to the vast array of incredible work, and equally incredible designers that we share this industry with. When visiting OFFF, we went with a different mindset — thinking that we wouldn't get as much from it as we're more aware of the industry. We couldn't have been further from the truth....

OFFF takes places at the Design Museum of Barcelona every year. We intended to go last year, but my strong allegiance to my beloved Sheffield Wednesday meant I was at Wembley (fuck you Hull). On that subject, I received this lovely text from Dave moments after we lost the Playoff Final. This year it was a month earlier which meant football didn't get in the way.

Museu del Disseny, the venue for OFFF

We avoided spending too much time looking at lineup before hand. It's always nice to hear tales from the well known 'celeb designers', but as is often the case for us, it's the designers people we've not yet come across that we get the most from. I say people over designers, as OFFF is about bringing together a vast array of talent from many different disciplines: animation, film, art, design, illustration, and the experience is so much richer for it.

View from our hotel by the marina. Our yacht is the one just to the right of the pirate ship. 

The OFFF identity was by Outro studio this year, and was based around growing all senses

The 3 days were packed with talks from 11.00am til 9.30pm across 3 stages. The main stage is a huge room, which was often too full (a United Airlines nightmare) with people sat on the floor, as well as a smaller stage outside and an auditorium. We saw some amazing people: Outro Studio, Leta Sobierajski & Wade Jeffree, Anton & Irene, Gmunk, Mr Kat, Calvin Sprague, Anthony Burrill and Joshua Davis to name a few, as well as watching Stefan Sagmiester's documentary The Happy Film.

Leta Sobierajski & Wade Jeffree. Relationship goals.

Anton & Irene with a great Lance Wyman quote. He told Irene this in a taxi.

Anton & Irene — good advice.

Outro Studio. It's nice when other people do the same as you do.

We found a bit of time in-between talks to see a few sights, and spot some streetwords. Dave also treat us to a classy pair of socks. Rather than choose Kanye or Drake, we took one sock each. We'll be wearing odd socks at important meetings from now on.

Hip Hop socks designed by 'Cool Shit'.

Streetwords near Museu del Disseny.

Torre Agbar - A colourful Gherkin.

Streetwords near Museu del Disseny. Weirdly the same tag is on the street behind our studio.

They're really milking this job.

THE Lady Gaga.


So, what did we take from OFFF? There were 5 common traits we noticed...

Most studios we saw weren’t fancy-pants studios, with agencies across the globe, shipping container meeting rooms and more ping pong tables than staff.

They were rough little places, producing great work, but behind the scenes they were small and DIY.

One set of speakers' favourite place was the local $1 shop – they bought all their props from there. Which goes to show you don’t need big agency budgets to produce great work. It makes us less conscious about our regular trips to B&M.


Another big thing that came across was the love within these small studios. Studios of 2-6 people, collaborating on great little projects. Or working together with other small studios in other disciplines. It’s good to be small. Small = Creative. No project managers or account managers muddying the water.

At the heart of these creative hubs are teams working towards a common goal: produce great work that they love. Leta & Wade’s Compliments project is a lovely example of this if you haven’t seen it.


We’ve said it for quite a while now, but it was nice to hear it from other studios too.

Side projects are everything. They allow us to experiment, fail, learn and create without any limitations or clients to please.

We don’t do any sort of marketing/sales/outreach. Clients simply see the cool stuff we put out and want a piece of the action.

Yes, they sometimes make you poor and yes, they sometimes end up in the bin. But occasionally it works.

GMUNK said he invested £750 in LEDS, to make an experimental video. That video lead to Adobe seeing it and paying him good money, then Audi seeing the Adobe work and paying him even bigger money, then Microsoft seeing the Audi work & paying even better money.

It’s very simple:
Do good things > New client sees good things > New client wants it > Cycle continues.

Studio Outro said: 'Ensure all side projects are Small, Fast and Fun'.

Anton & Irene differed, their side projects took over 60% of their working lives, and some spanned years. Like this great project on NYC buildings, and this documentary into a lesbian commune.


This was echoed by a lot of speakers throughout the talks. The issue for creatives is:
We’re innately creative. Too many things excite us on a daily basis. We’re like magpies.
So specialising in one thing is like wearing a straight jacket.

We realised we need to push ourselves out of our comfort zone more.
We get branding, we love it, but sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in all the strategy, when you’d really rather be pissing about with lasers, or making a poster.

A child-like curiosity is a good thing, and one we hope to nurture more.


Many of the speakers were incredibly humbled to be talking at OFFF. Adam J Kurtz said ‘I have no idea what I’m doing here’. He couldn’t understand why so many people liked his work, but they do!

A lot of these presenters hadn’t been designing for 20 years. They hadn’t worked with huge names, but that didn’t matter. Their lack of experience was overshadowed by their huge passion and ability to DO.



It was all over too quick, but reiterated to us the importance of going to these type of events. We're very much 'get off the computer', but we can fall into the trap of getting lost in our little bubble of work. Having the time to get away from the day to day running of a small studio and be exposed to quality work and inspiring stories is a necessity for us.

To summarise, here’s 5 things we took away from OFFF:

— Don’t become complacent, ever.
— Open up to more collaborations.
— Be proud of our size – it’s exciting to be small.
— Video/moving graphic work reaches emotions that still static graphics sometimes cannot.
— Keep going, we’re on the right path...

February 10, 2017 - No Comments!

I Am An Amplifier

Just before Christmas, Paul Heys from SIA got in touch with us. He'd seen our Why U Reading This For project, and wanted to use the content for a work in context brief for their Level 2 students.

The brief was framed around Social Protest, underpinning the foundations of independence. Our uncensored street words made the perfect content, and students were assigned a word/phrase from the many we've found around Sheffield's streets.

Students were tasked with creating an A1 placard, under specific restrictions:
• Black and White only
• Typeset in Kong, Ivory, Incido or Plate Mono by Daniel Reed

Creating such specific rules would force them to think hard about the relationship between the words and overall composition.


This was a quick brief. From us briefing the students to the 'protest' the students had 1 week. From a personal level, this was really interesting task. When we started collecting street words, we avoided bastardizing the words or removing them from their context, something that the students were being instructed to do.

It was a nice little break from the norm, and also interesting to see how the content we're collecting can be used in other ways. All the placards looked great, but the below 3 caught our eye...

December 23, 2016 - No Comments!

Oh Bollocks – A Christmas Poem

T'was the week before Christmas,
When suddenly Ol cried,
'We forgot to send cards!'
'Oh bollocks!' Dave sighed.

They'd nailed the concept,
A real work of art,
Actually sending them to print,
would've been a good start.

'What will our clients think?
Will they forget we exist?'
Not if I know them,
They're probably all pissed.

They dashed to the printers,
With their print-ready design,
Alas, they were shut,
'Gone out for mulled wine'.

'I have an idea!
That will set us apart,
Let's give them a poem ,
That comes from the heart.'

'Let's raise a glass,
To Bowie and Prince,
To Ali and Rickman,
And pies full of mince.'

'To Wogan and Aherne,
To cancer: fuck you.
And to our continental cousins,
We still love EU.'

To planning, and printing,
And poems by candlelight,
Happy Christmas to all,
and to all a good night.

November 29, 2016 - No Comments!

Why U Reading This For?

Ever taken a picture of a hand drawn dick on the side of a bus stop, or laughed at some vulgar graffiti? If you answered yes, then you'll probably like our side project — Why U Reading This For?.
We like crudely drawn cocks and grammatically incorrect graffiti, and until a few months ago, we collected these hidden treasures for nothing more than to laugh at, and occasionally put one on Twitter.

We then thought it would be a good idea to showcase the poetic nature of the glorious street-word, and Why U Reading This For? was born. We love type, and we love Sheffield, so what better than a project highlighting the views of real Sheffield people, putting them across in their own way?

The name comes from a scruffily written message on Lady's Bridge — which sums up this project pretty perfectly.


Words are great. Throw a few together and they can make you feel something. Take those words and write them somewhere public, and it can create something hilarious, peculiar, and in some cases, a bit disturbing. And they're everywhere — and you don't even realise it. Political views, offensive phrases, random sentences, drug advice, sex advice, sinister warnings, dad jokes, music reviews, satire sayings, personal opinions, messages of love — it's all out there, and it's all bloody amazing.

why_u_reading_this_for_they_are_watching why_u_reading_this_for_private_barkingwhy_u_reasing_imagewhy_u_reading_this_for_boyfriends_nails why_u_reading_this_for_avocados

You can follow the project on Twitter, Instagram or Tumblr. If you spot some street-words we haven't, please send them through to [email protected] or hit us up on Twitter.

July 29, 2016 - No Comments!

Glug Leeds – It’s Not So Grim Up North

We were recently asked to speak at Glug Leeds, and tell the story of how we came to work with the magical Grimm & Co, alongside some other talented people. It took place at Dukes Studios to a sold out crowd of 150+ people.

The theme of the night was 'It's Not So Grim Up North' and brought together Northern talent (Sheffield, Barnsley and Leeds) to show it's not all about being in London (#fucklondon).

We were given the 'headline 30 minutes slot' which seemed a bloody long time to talk, until we did a practice run which lasted well over 45 minutes. It was great to see other like-minded people, doing great shit in their own way. Special shout outs to Kyle and Kristyna who both did great talks.

All in all we had a blast and had a brilliantly inspiring night. We've done a few talks before but nothing this large, and never to solely our peers — still seems quite odd that people want to hear what we've got to say!

If you're not aware of Glug, check them out here — and get yourselves along to an event.



Sheffield Tap - pre train beers


Dave made a friend at Meadowhall station.


This Glug event was at Duke Studios in Leeds - a great co-working space.


Intense staring out competition.


Kyle Wilkinson on his mantra — Fuck it. What if...


Our talk started at the beginning. This image is from my 18th birthday — 11 years ago!


What we always try and remember.


I like this photo — people are laughing (possibly at us than with us)


Leeds based illustrator Kristyna Baczynski on how you can make wicked work and not have to work from London.


Home time.

February 11, 2016 - 12 comments

It’s Grimm up North

Way, way back in October ’14, we were contacted by a rather charming lady named Deborah. She sent us an ominous email, explaining how she was setting up a charity project and would we like to be involved. We had a chat, and she sold us this incredible idea of creating a children’s literacy centre inspired by the work of Dave Eggers and 826 Valencia in San Francisco. If you’re not aware of who Dave is or what 826 is, watch this. In summary, 826 Valencia is a writing centre hidden behind a shop for Pirates. Not a cliche joke shop - a real shop for real pirates walking around San Francisco. Since then there’s been many more in the US - Brooklyn Superhero Supply, The Time Travel Mart and many more weird and wonderful centres. The northern version, which we were asked to be a part of was to be in Rotherham, with the shop being an Apothecary for the Magical, called Grimm & Co. At this point we were rubbing our hands together - DREAM BRIEF KLAXON! The only catch - like with all the other centres, they’re created by everyone who comes on board donating their time for free. A big ask for a small studio, but one we couldn’t turn down.



Deborah with Dave Eggers.


As well as the amazing centres in the US, there’s also one in London - Hoxton Street Monster Supplies. Grimm & Co will sit alongside Hoxton, as part of the Ministry of Stories family. Back in December ’14 we went down to visit the Hoxton shop, and meet everyone involved. Not only does each centre have it’s own shop on the front, it’s a fully functional shop, who’s profit goes back into the running of the centre. Hoxton sell everything for the modern day Monster, from Fang Floss for vampires, to their tinned fear range (A Vague Sense of Unease is a personal favourite).



Hoxton Street Monster Supplies


Some of the products on offer at Hoxton.


Impacted Earwax (a.k.a fudge).



Grimm and Co is lucky enough to have Jeremy Dyson on their board, best known for writing for The League of Gentlemen, and more recently co-creating the West End play Ghost Stories. He wrote a back story to Grimm and Co, which explains why the shop exists, and who’s responsible for it. Grimm’s founder is a chap called Graham Grimm - a seventh son of a seventh son who had the gift to see magical creatures, and who used his skill to his advantage, by opening an Apothecary to serve them. It originated in 1148 (just before lunch).



Deborah Bullivant & Jeremy Dyson at the June awareness event.


We did a bit of a presentation at the awareness event on our work so far.




One of Grimm's many volunteers.


We expanded on the personality of Graham and gave him a voice. It was massively important for us to have a vision of who Graham is - how he'd talk, how he'd act and how he'd create his shop. His thrifty-ness set the tone for an ‘up-cycled way of doing things’. One of our most asked questions is, 'what would Graham do.'



Snapshot of our research.


Interior 'up-cycled' inspiration.


Icon sketches on the train back from visiting Hoxton.


Working up the Grimm monogram.


The Grimm (G&co) monogram we created.


Early, unused ideas.


3D render of the slide which will take children from the writing centre on the top floor, back into the shop on the ground floor.


Early, unused ideas.


Drop cap idea sketches.


More sketches.


Drop cap idea - unused.


Woodblock print tests.


Wood-burner tests.


Working on the (bloody massive) window designs.



In Spring ’15 Deborah secured the property - and she couldn’t have got a better place. The venue is the old Towngate pub in Rotherham, a huge space spreading over 3 floors. What started out as (in our heads at least) a branding job, had become branding, packaging, interior design and exterior signage. Along the way we spotted some incredibly fortunate things, like this image by Roanna Wells of a hand made wand - she’s now Grimm’s main wand-maker. Jack (a.k.a Metal & Dust) has made us some beautiful reclaimed pieces for the shop, and Dave's dad has done some joinery magic.




The old Towngate pub, and soon to be Grimm & Co.


How the Towngate pub looked.


Cosy corner (now something much more exciting).


Upstairs of the Towngate with a pool table on it's side. Obviously.


Taking in the view.


Dave taking a picture of me...


...taking a picture of him. Oh how we laughed.


Since the building was secured, we’ve been helping Deborah and her brilliant team of volunteers to turn an old pub, into the best creative venue the North has seen. It's been a massively challenging project, probably not helped by our desire to second guess our every decision. We've revisited the identity more times than I'd like to remember, and have said 'no' more than 'yes', to many ideas. That said, we wouldn't have it any other way.



Early building work - donated by Willmott Dixon.


Plans for downstairs - time kindly donated by our Architect friend Studio Van Hoorebeek.


On-going interior work, using a lot of salvaged pallets.


Some product development - a handmade 'Frog Spawn' soap.


Spent a small fortune on these. Probably used 3x the amount shown here.


Completely un-staged painting shot. Honest! Dave actually decorates like this.


Professional planning as always.


We've become competent scaffolding erectors.


No comment.


One of the volunteers, Lewis an Illustrator from Rotherham.


Working on the Imagination room.


Bestseller for the magical.


The Grimm monogram, wax seal of approval.


There will be lots and lots of bottles.


One of the volunteers, Chris.


More pallets and crates.


Close up of the signage. Created by Jack @ Metal & Dust.


Dave blending into the interior.


Roanna & Deborah talking wands.


Behind the counter.


Close up detail of packaging.


If you follow us on Instagram you've probably seen some behind the scenes bits and pieces. We've been careful not to give away too much - there's a fair few surprises up our sleeves. You can keep up to date with all things Grimm on Twitter or Facebook. Website coming soon.

We’re now less than 3 weeks from launch. Grimm & Co will open it’s doors 29th February 2016, 17 months after we started this project, and over 1000 hours of our donated time - we can’t bloody wait!


Crap photos by us. The really good ones by Helena Fletcher, another great person who's donated her time to the project.

February 4, 2016 - No Comments!

Menage à Trois?

We’re looking for a new friend.  Luke has gone to ‘find himself’ in some of the most questionable places on earth, so we need someone to replace him.

If your name is Luke, or are willing to change your name to Luke, that would be helpful, but not essential.

As ever we’re looking to stay small and selective, so apologies if we do not get back to everyone who applies.


What we’re after:
– Proper nice person (new bestie)
– Great designer
– Great potential designer
– Skills we don’t have
– Rationale and exciting concepts
– Strong branding and typography skills
– Confident, hungry and passionate
– Great taste in music

What we can offer:
– Work that excites us every day
– 4 day working week, 1 day play
– Trips to design conferences around the world
– Budget for exciting shit
– 20 - 30k
– A pot plant of your choosing
– A desk, a pen, a chair, a mug & there’s some couscous in the cupboard you can have too.


Apply for this job by emailing something to: [email protected]
or posting something to: Side by Side, OXO House, 4 Joiner St S3 8GW.

Please don’t limit yourself to CV’s & PDF portfolios. Excite us.

We’re busy, so don’t dilly dally.
Closing Date: As soon as we’ve found someone incredible.

Dave & Ol v-sign thumbs

January 19, 2016 - No Comments!

It’s not you, it’s me

Hello, your old friend Luke here!

Ol and Dave asked me to write a blog post to announce that as of Thursday this week I will no longer working at Side by Side. On the 4th of Feb I am going off on my travels around Asia with my fiancé El for about 6 months.

I guess writing this blog post is a happy sad thing for me, it’s been a crazy year and a half at Side by Side on a personal and professional level including Ol getting married, Dave having a child, me getting engaged and passing my driving test at the tender age of 25 part in thanks to Side by Side who paid for most of my lessons. Of course I am happy that I am going traveling but sad to be leaving the team having spent most of my waking hours with the guys since September 2014.

As a designer I have grown a lot at Side by Side and changed, I came in as a boy and left as a man, as Ol would like me to say. It’s been lots of good times and some hard times, in such a small studio we have to be able to tackle whatever comes through the door and whatever the client needs, at times it can be tough, especially being a young inexperienced designer and their first employee ever! It’s been a huge learning curve and hard to maintain a constantly high standard and way of thinking. But that said it’s been brilliant, I have been lucky enough to be right in the mix doing things I never thought I would do, every day presents something different and challenging to think about, Ol and Dave showed me that you really need to push your self and think bigger and better wherever possible. One piece of advice I’d like to leave Ol and Dave is to really trust your gut and be proud of what you have made.

Ols Wedding

Just want to take this opportunity to thank all the clients I have had the chance to work with, it's been a real pleasure!

I am having a bit of a social media ‘black out’ when I am away but I will be updating my irregular diary occasionally on my website:

Luke x




We’ll miss Luke. He’s a contradictory hipster, who loves an argument (sometimes about things that really don’t matter) and also shares our love of deep fried food covered in cheese. He’s been a big part of Side by Side, and it’ll feel weird not having him around. Although I won't miss having post-its reading 'I heart Dix' and 'Zombie Attack Imminent' stuck onto my back, on a daily basis.

Thanks Luke, here are your best bits...

Ol & Dave x


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October 14, 2015 - No Comments!

Present! Exhibition

Present! was the culmination of nearly a year's worth of work with my fiancé El. We started the whole idea of wanting to help street kids in India after a trip there in 2014. We came up with the idea of doing a week long exhibition, bringing together designers from across the world, with all of the proceeds going to an orphanage.  We had a great time doing it with the help of a few old pals from the year below us at Leeds College of Art who did the branding. It was fun, stressful and well worth doing.

The whole opening weekend felt really positive and this phrase 'design for good' kept getting thrown around, which left a really positive note. Doing this exhibition really made me think about design as a whole and it's a really self-serving industry all about doing that kick ass brief, being awesome and being the best. Not often enough does design get done just for good, just to help other people.

Anyway, now it's all over we have all the prints up for sale in our shop including the Side by Side print 'Don't Lose Touch' featuring our WIP typeface 'No Dice'. There's also my own personal print, featuring my hero Gandhi and one of his most meaningful quotes that really sums up why El and I did the exhibition. All of the prints are available as postcards as well; they're printed on Fedrigoni paper by Pressision in Leeds - amazing, top people who really helped us.

Below are a selection of images from the launch night. Thanks to everyone who could make it.


The window graphics on the outside of the gallery.


This was the first thing people saw as they walked in, explaining what the exhibition was all about.


Some visual evidence that people actually came and stood and chatted and drank.


Our Dave can't switch off the creativity, we asked him to stop drawing on the walls, but he just loves a Posca.


My friend Joe checking out my print. I promise this wasn't staged he just was looking.


My beautiful fiancé El on the left with Nicole, a great photographer.


A great little wooden sign advertising the talks on Sunday made with love by Abbas, Sam and Seb of the newly formed Leeds studio Alphabet, who helped us do all the ace graphics for the show.


We made a video that was on loop at the show of old Bollywood films.


There she is, the Side by Side print in all of its glory.


A shot of Malika Favre who contributed a print, as well as to the kickstarter and took part in a Q&A on the Sunday which was great.


I will end on a slide from Craig Oldham's talk that really hit home with me.

August 5, 2015 - No Comments!

100 Glyphs Project

Back in April, we set ourselves the challenge of taking part in the 100 day project. We set ourselves the task of creating 100 glyphs - 1 each day for 100 days, made however we liked. We learnt some new process, refined ones we'd already tried, and created accidental results we never set out to create.

Here are all 100 glyphs. Enjoy!