Interview with Warriors Studio
Go to Scotland’s largest design festival and you might be shocked to learn that the whole thing was started by two, plucky university students: James Gilchrist and Beth Wilson. For years, they had trouble meeting designers in Scotland. They were frustrated, so they decided to launch their own festival in 2014. It worked out pretty well. Then, just for good measure, they founded design and communications agency, Warriors. Since then, they’ve won a slew of awards, cool clients, and… Actually, we’ll let James tell you the rest.
What have been the major milestones in your career?
Wow, that’s a tough one!
– Being invited to represent Scotland at the International Centre of Graphic Design in Chaumont.
– Wining the Deutsche Bank Award.
– Establishing Scotland’s largest design event: Graphic Design Festival Scotland.
– Being able to survive doing what we love.
– Hiring Victoria Donnelly—our incredible studio manager—full time.
– Working on a national campaign with the V&A.
– Offering over 2,000 young people across Scotland opportunities to engage with design through Young & Powerful, a national campaign we initiated with support from Visit Scotland, Creative Scotland, Education Scotland. and Access to Industry.
– Hiring Mitchell Gillies—our new designer—full time.
– Winning Bronze at the European Design Awards for Graphic Design Festival Scotland’s 2017 Identity Campaign, developed in collaboration with Graphical House and Infinite Eye.
– Being included in Creative Review’s top-50 list of creative leaders in the UK and Europe, alongside Bjork, Paul Smith, Apple, Adidas, and many more.
In what ways do you challenge yourself? Asked by Basic
We challenge ourselves by trying to better what we do, and how we do it, every single day. We also like to follow and break the rules at the same time. That can be a challenge.
If you could reverse one decision you’ve made since the beginning of your career, which would it be?
1. How much of your day do you spend working?
Anywhere from zero to 14 hours.
2. Where is your ideal work environment?
Depends what we’re doing. If we’re all deep into our own long-term tasks, then we work from home and knuckle down. If we’re looking to develop a strategy, creative concept or almost anything ideas-based, then we’re together in the studio with a fresh pot of coffee, stacks of paper, and pencils.
3. What do you hope to get across with your work?
We try to make things interesting, beautiful in their own unique way, and as unexpected as practically possible. We used to claim that clarity underpinned our work, but after a discussion with our friend, Paul Bailey, we reconsidered. He said that clarity is overrated and can make things dull. We totally agreed, but it depends on the project. Sometimes we want to communicate something clearly and concisely, and sometimes we aim to do the opposite. Contradictions are also an on-going theme in our work. They keep things interesting.
4. What inspires you?
Life, art, design, music, people, experiences.
5. What’s the secret to a successful day’s work?
Focus, a solid plan, determination, and collaboration where needed.
6. Is there anything in your life that you can’t live without?
Friends and family.
7. Is there anything about you that people might not know?
I used to sing professionally in a choir.
8. What would be your dream project?
We believe anything can be a dream project with the right thinking. But there are few we’d really enjoy. A sports campaign, identity for a government agency or secret service, identity for a railway company, identity and strategy for a music festival: all these could be a lot of fun and very rewarding.
9. What is the most time-consuming aspect of your work?
Communication with the team and clients. Emails, phone calls, face-to-face discussions.
10. What legacy would you like to leave behind?
A more connected, engaged, adventurous, and thriving design scene in Scotland.