We recently had the pleasure of catching up with our go-to graphic designer, Cate Pepper.
Having collaborated with Cate for over 5 years on various projects, including whilst at Finders Keepers, we knew that she’d have some great knowledge to share with our readers.
We introduced Cate to our mentee and MGTH member Jacqueline Lord and provided creative direction for the rebrand of Betsy Blonde. Plus, we worked with Cate on the creation of our templates and worksheets for MGTH members!
On a professional level, Cate is extremely hard working, empathetic and talented enough to understand our long and complicated concepts and synthesise them into something coherent that follows visual communication tenets.
Get to know Cate and glean some awesome graphic design tips, like what makes a shit-hot logo and brand identity by reading on!
Tell us more about your creative practice.
I’ve been a freelance graphic designer and illustrator for about 11 years now. I’ve always been interested in drawing and graphics. I studied art throughout my school years and grew up in a very creative household with both parents running their own creative businesses – Dad in signwriting and graphics and my Mom in quilting and textile art.
After school, I took a year off and then went into a Design Fundamentals course for a year and then onto a Diploma of Graphic Design for 2 years, both through TAFE NSW in Wollongong.
I work predominantly in the music industry and specialise in detailed illustrative work. Most of my work consists of tour art, poster designs and merch designs for different bands and musicians from Australia and overseas.
I also work with a variety of different businesses from their initial logo and branding through to ongoing advertising, social media images, packaging and other bits and pieces they need.
Some of my recent and ongoing clients include; John Butler Trio, Tim Freedman, The Whitlams, Dashboard Confessional, Birds of Tokyo, The Waifs, Roadsick Apparel, Jarrah Records, The Living End, Levi’s – Music Prize, Deluxe Guitars & Backline, Mama Kin Spender and Betsy Blonde.
What makes a strong visual identity?
Something that catches your eye and is unique – shows a bit of personality. A design that when you look at it, it gives you an instant idea of what the essence of that brand or business is and what it’s all about.
What work are you most proud of?
I’d say my work with Roadsick Apparel. My mate came to me back in 2014 with his idea for the brand and we worked on and developed the initial logo and brand identity together and from there it just took off. We always maintained a theme and style throughout the ongoing designs and imagery across all platforms of the business so when you saw it on a t-shirt or on social media it was instantly recognisable.
I’ve loved being part of the journey and watching it grow and adapt over the years and the relationship you build when you work so closely on something together for so long. Those kind of projects are really special
What are your preferred graphic design tools?
My go-to programs/tools are Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop and my trusty Wacom tablet. I use the pen and tablet for everything on my desktop computer and laptop. My Procreate program on my iPad also takes a fair beating.
Where do you find inspiration on current design trends?
I love flicking through Instagram and seeing what the artists and designers I follow are up to and are working on. I also browse through Pinterest a lot to get ideas or inspo for certain jobs. There’s always a great range of imagery on there from colour palettes or new fonts to general fashion trends or styling.
What are common mistakes you see in small business branding?
Not spending the appropriate amount of time/money on their branding. I know it can seem like a lot of money and a huge investment when you’re starting out BUT your logo and branding is the very first thing that people see, it’s the face of your business and in an instant can either immediately attract someone or turn them off. If you have a crappy logo it’s going to lead people to think what you have to offer probably isn’t much better. So spending the time/money to get it right and hiring someone to help you achieve that is 100% worth the investment. DO NOT go to the $5 or free instant logo creating websites you see online – just don’t. Trust me!
What do graphic designers bring to the branding process?
Graphic Designers can help you gather and pinpoint the random ideas and thoughts you have and help to bring it all together into one cohesive concept. Sometimes it’s hard to know what direction you want to go in and sometimes you don’t know what you want or don’t want until you see it. A graphic designer will definitely help you get to that resolution much quicker. You will also end up with a very slick and professional look across your whole branding.
Your top three tips for a shit-hot logo and brand identity
- KISS rule – Keep it simple stupid. Don’t over complicate it. Come up with a clear idea/concept and try and keep it consist across your branding so that it flows together.
- Start with the Logo first before you do anything. Let the logo design set the tone and path for the rest of the branding. If you come up with a great logo that you love then the rest will be much easier to follow on from there.
- Listen to your Graphic Designer. If they’re advising you on a particular idea or direction they’re not doing that to be a jerk or say that your idea is shit they’re doing that because of their many years of knowledge and experience, that’s why you’re paying them to do this job in the first place.
All images supplied by Cate Pepper Graphic Designer