After having a stint in London completing various design based internships, 23 year-old Dan moved back to Norfolk to figure out his next steps. His days were spent working at a bar and a local chippy, but his nights was where he could fulfil his creative ambitions with various projects. His love for music meant his creations became a perfect honey-trap for the music industry. It wasn’t long before he was given the opportunity to go on tour with the band Metronomy around Europe and the UK, as the art worker and seller of their merchandise.
When you were on tour with Metronomy, what type of work did you get up to?
They needed someone to come on tour and sell it. So said this guy knows all of our products, he’s art-worked them, so let’s just invite him. I would set-up and be in charge of all their stock counting, money handling and all our schedules. There were certain dates where venues, depending on size, would have a team to do it for you. I’d be on stage sound checking in the bass or playing on the drums, it was the coolest thing. Or I could just fall asleep or play FIFA on the tour bus.
What did you learn from that experience?
I learned that I should always say yes to anything and I can be independent. I’m also good on Microsoft Excel? [he utters in disbelief] And I’ve never used that, I hated it! The tour manager was a whizz on it.
So how did this project re*schedule come about? When was its inception? How did you get collaborators on board?
The initial idea (creating a poster visual) is just something that I would do for my second Instagram page, which is design focused. I tend to do artworks here and there to keep up to date with trends and music news, so this was going to be another one of those. I’ve recently been in contact with Mike Lythgoe, who designed and art directs across major labels. He’s been helping out with my current work situation but since that’s slowed down due to the crisis, this project was born to fill up free time. I felt the need to do something good to help out.
Nice work on getting a reputable designer on board! So you do album art and concept work on the page?
Yeah, I normally choose songs that aren’t singles to do either album artwork or perhaps a poster visual for because, if a song is released as a single, it’s already going to have its own artwork so the visual already exists. So I try and do stuff that doesn’t have anything attached to it. I’d not done a tour poster before and I was like ‘oh that’s cool idea’. But as of recent, the majority have been cancelled, so perhaps there’s something in that? I just thought of designing a cancelled tour poster in bed before I was going to go to sleep, and I was like, ‘okay, I’ll do that tomorrow.’ Adam, who I have collaborated with, we’ve never actually met.
Adam Illingworth, is also a graphic designer who has worked in the music industry throughout Nottingham. He has freelanced for various artists, as well as having siblings who are also musicians themselves.
One day I got this idea so I just messaged him on Instagram
‘Why don’t we start a page for all these cancelled
tours and we’ll do a poster for them?’
I think within 8-hours, we had our first post, our name and brand on Instagram. The idea came about because I had realised I had loads of gigs coming up, but they have been cancelled. I saw Metronomy were cancelled, so I was starting to think...
‘It’s not just the artist, it’s the band’s crew that are gonna lose out on work. It’s the venues, the venue’s staff, fans are going to miss out‘
We just realised the impact that this is going to have, especially for the smaller artists that maybe have to self-fund, or have to really use their own sort of initiative off their own back, rather than having a label to help deal with all this. It’s happening to freelancers as well, we’re losing out on work, but you kind of make the best of a bad situation and help others if you can.
Adam knows a lot of people, he’s networked with crews in Nottingham that we can work with. But we thought that we’d just start off doing big bands to get the attraction to the page, like Blossoms and the Bon Iver and The Metronomy. We obviously aren’t working with them, we’re just saying people are more likely to be interested in a Metronomy gig poster, rather than someone they’ve never heard of. But then while they’re at the page, hopefully they can look at other artists.
We started in posters and then we were going to put our logo on it, which is obviously re*schedule. Have the original dates on there and then we’ll update them once we know that they’ve been updated, whether or not we’re in talks with the artist or not. We started coming up with a system that would cross out all the dates or do something to make it illegible, then once they’re revised we’d then put our logo on it.
Once we started doing that, we started seeing loads of other similar pages of labels or charities doing things to help. So we kind of turned it into this page where you can come and find other ways to help. Whether it’s buying merch or streaming, or share with like-minded people that want to know what’s happening. Maybe they just want to come find new music and that’s the best bit as well.
When talking about the potential of contacting Spotify to redo some cover playlists’ artwork, Dan mentioned:
One of the things we are doing is building playlists of all the artists that we feature so people can easily click on a link and weekly listen…if it’s all the amazing artists in one place people might, especially being at home where you’ve got nothing else to do, check it out more. We had quite a lot of people comment on it, we didn’t think they would. So we’re going to do that each week of all the people that we’ve sort of feature, update that.
We are actually trying to keep it gender balanced. We know it’s a bit male heavy at the minute, but that’s because I think when we first started off it was just all our friends initially, and they just happen to be male. We just needed content. We’re trying to find the balance now between getting out content quick but also not doing rubbish design. We’re doing it all for free and designing posters, regardless if artists know about us and have approached us. We’re not trying to think too much about it, we just want to raise awareness.
Good for you. What’s your end goal if it has an end goal?
It has an end goal. But it’s very ambitious. We thought ‘why not at the end of this, if we could put on a gig?’ including the small artists that are featured throughout this, because a lot of them are local from like Notts or Sheffield, Reading, Leeds. We always tagged the venues as well and a lot of them started liking and following and see what we’re up to. If there was some way we could do that, towards the end of maybe summer, because a lot of bands are staying in touch. They’re forwarding it onto their friends who are also in bands too.
Will this be a permanent side project or is it a test drive to see what it’s like running your own project and then move on?
If it has legs, I think it’ll just gradually grow and it’ll be nice because even when I take a day off, I’m still thinking about ‘ahhh I haven’t posted on this’. People are really interested in it and I didn’t think it would even make 50 followers. I think it’ll be nice to keep it up and like you said, it’s great to run your own thing. I had an interview the other day and he asked “Can you give me an example of being self-motivated and a self-starter?” I was like “Yep! Go to re*schedule.” I had it with Universal for a digital marketing internship. They really enjoyed it and a lot of people from the industry have now started to follow, which is really nice. I’ve had a couple of creatives from Warner, a couple of creatives from Sony, and the founder of DIY Magazine followed us. So it adds to the pressure of having a quick turnaround.
So you’re using your skills, which is graphic design, to apply to something you love?
Yeah! Exactly. In our case it’s about meeting in the middle and we both share the same love (design and music) for it.
Have you encountered any problems starting this project, anything unexpected or any disagreements between you and Adam?
I didn’t think there would be, he’s such an easy going guy. We were like ‘why can’t we be hired together?’ That’d be so good. We literally run this project off of a Whatsapp group. And we both like ‘I found this person’ and I’m like ‘oh cool I found this person’. He will go and do something and send it to me or I’ll do something and send it to him…then we’ll both sort of work on each other’s and send it back until we’re quite happy with it, then one of us has to post it. At the beginning we were like ‘Do we post it full bleed or do we do show it as a poster or do we just swipe? Do we need a logo?’ I definitely chose the right guy to work with. Although we’re really different, we’ve got quite a similar style. It’s practice for me working with other people. Yeah we’re fine. WE’RE FINEEEE.
What have you learned from doing a side hustle like this?
Not to be afraid to approach artists. They’re proper sound. Do you know Oscar Lang? I did a poster for him, a separate project. His EP came out the other month… I loved it and I just did a random poster for him. I tagged him in it, he’d put it on his story and I had loads of people come my page. I messaged him, I was like, ‘this is really cool thanks so much’. He was like ‘yeah, this is sick. I really love it’.
I told him about our page and I said ‘I know some of your dates have been cancelled and you’ve got some revised ones for some of autumn. Can I do another one? And perhaps you might like to share it? It’ll really help us out’ and he was like ‘totally, love it’. Don’t be afraid. People (artists) are just human and they want to help out as well. They understand it, it’s their field ultimately. Obviously I can’t just, as much as I’d like to, message Matty Healey and tell him how much I love him…
I think he has enough messages from teenage girls. Sorry.
I did message him the other day [he said sheepishly]
What’s the choosing criteria that you base off, when choosing an artist to do posters for? Is it based on if you think they’ll be responsive towards it, how many followers they have or purely because you like their music?
It first off started from gigs that I had that were cancelled. I was going to go see Blossoms, I was going to go see Foals, I was going to go see Harry Styles . FYI I’m not going to do one for Harry Styles ’cause he’s fine.
But this is where Adam comes into it really well because siblings are musicians. So they have played at venues and they know other people, especially smaller acts. So we kind of just take recommendations. We’re not afraid to just ask if anyone knows of anyone. We’re not gonna know everything. I don’t think we should be fussy with who we’re promoting too much, because everyone needs a helping hand at the minute. I think a big part of it as well is introducing new music, because that comes with supporting artists alongside promoting their tour dates.
I know you’ve scattered this throughout the interview, but what sort of responses have you received? Any negative ones that has taken you aback?
No nothing negative, but Adam’s mum made a great point about keeping the list of artists gender balanced and Adam mentioned his sister is in the band ‘Sunflower Thieves’ and she finds it a lot harder to get gigs than his brother (Laurie Illingworth) does, just because she’s female. So we’re trying to amplify that. Maybe we’ll do The Female playlist on Spotify? Ultimately, it was focused on cancelled tours – this is what it is. But we’re thinking of maybe starting a website for it. Just have the logo on there, then perhaps if you hover over the asterisk, all the posters just flash up or something. But nothing too corporate or too busy.
So working process currently, are you and Adam sending each other messages?
Yeah basically, but…WE’VE NEVER HAD A PHONE CALL TOGETHER!
Who does what in a poster? How do you come up with the design, do you brainstorm together?
If they’re (the artist) quite small, then we’ll say, you know “Is there a logo that you want use? Or any preferred imagery?” A lot of them tend to say just look at our Instagram, if there’s anything on there you can pick from. Or a lot of them are like ‘we’ll leave it up to you’. We don’t want to get too involved with Copyright or anything like online or people’s imagery. And if we do, we’ll definitely, like we have in the past, tag or reference them. But then in terms of me and Adam, sometimes I’ll do a full poster or he’ll do one and that’s us collaborating to the project. Or if we work on the same one, sometimes I’ll do the imagery and do a template for him and then send it over, he’ll do all the dates and just fix up the type. It’s really, really easy for us as designers.
Any particular posters created that has been your favourite?
My Oscar Lang was probably my favourite one. Just because I got to talk to him as well. He’s so lovely and calls me ‘bro’. Anyone with a blue tick in your DMs, yeah that’s pretty good innit?When I’m drunk I um…DM Miley Cyrus. I just tell her I love her. I’m like “GOT ANY GIGS CANCELLED?”
Share the love, you do you honey. Obsession aside, do you have any advice you can pass onto aspiring creatives?
I’m not qualified to be sharing advice if I’m honest…but if you’re sitting in your bedroom after a 10-hour shift at the fish and chips and you want to do a poster and share it on Instagram, DO IT. Don’t be afraid to talk to people, in the music world or in the design world. Everyone knows where you’re coming from…people know what it’s like to be in my [your] shoes, so don’t be afraid to ask for their help. Keep going. Something will happen. I’m 23 and I don’t want to be in a job just because it pays rent. But my mum is like “Can you go buy cat food?”. I’m like “MUM, I CAN’T EVEN PAY FOR MY NETFLIX”.