B: You’re basically living the dream right now: travelling the world, partying and getting paid for doing what you love. What was it that first made you want to be a designer?
SG: You make it sound so glamorous! It is a lot of fun. When I was 14, I wanted my graphics on boards and tees and I can’t really remember a time when I haven’t drawn to be honest. I have fond memories of perfecting the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles characters.
B: What was your first big commission? How did it feel to first see your work hit the big time?
SG: About two weeks into freelancing I managed to get a gig doing the tour T-Shirts for Finch. At the time that seemed huge. You’d be surprised how receptive people are to you just sending them your work to check out.
B: Being from Cornwall, you’re obviously surrounded by all kinds of board-sports. Do you ever surf or skate yourself?
SG: Cornwall’s great. I love visiting home. I very much prefer the North though. When I was about 11, I got my first surfboard and I managed to persuade my parents to get me a crappy skateboard from some sketchy French supermarket when we were away on holiday. It had this horrible monkey graphic, the grip really wasn’t grippy and the bearings hardly worked, but I was stoked. Nowadays I pretty much just cruise about on my longboard.
B: How would you describe your designer style?
SG: My work goes very well with slightly more alternative brands. Occasionally I do some corporate work and I have to make a proper effort to tone it down. I like to think my stuff’s odd.
B: How do you go about beginning a design? Do you prefer walking in with a blank canvas, or is it easier to have an already established logo and image to work around?
SG: It depends on the project. It’s always good to go in with a fresh head and create something insane. Sometimes with limited briefs though, that just can’t happen. Some companies want an illustrated version of their logo, sometimes they have a particular image in mind or sometimes I just get free reign. I really prefer the latter. I get so many mental ideas for things that I don’t have time to draw. I need to do that more instead of watching hours and hours of The Sopranos.
B: You’ve recently got back from hanging out with professional skateboarder Geoff Rowley in California. Did experiencing the life of those you design for help you in your work?
SG: Yeah that was great. Geoff’s a really good guy. Every person I met at Flip was pretty awesome to be fair. It’s always good to talk to people face to face about things. You really get an idea of the feel of things. Although I’m a big fan of email, sometimes you just can’t get things across correctly.
B: Did you get up to any crazy American crap while you were out there?
SG: The CoalaTree Organics guys were at Long Beach so I hung out with them for a few days. They had one of those nicotine pen things, but instead of nicotine they had little hash oil cartridges in there. We could just puff away and get really high at a restaurant and people are none the wiser. Mint.
B: You’ve worked for some huge names, including Atticus, SeventySeven Clothing and Fenchurch. You’ve also designed a huge variety of products – from T-Shirts, to boards and posters; what would be your ultimate “I can die happy now” job?
SG: When I was away, I went to a restaurant in Hollywood on my way to a party. My friend & I pulled up next to this car park which just happened to be decorated by Shepard Fairey. It looked amazing. The city council just gave him the entire car park to work on. Insane. Something huge like that, that will be there for a while. That’d be good. Maybe my version of that huge chalk horse on the hill? Someone needs to give me a hill!
B: What’s next for you?
SG: More work trips to the US; lots more travelling. Doing what I do, if I’ve got a laptop then I can work pretty much anywhere. I just want to keep pushing. There are guys like Todd Bratrud and Jeremy Fish who seem to be doing the sort of thing I want. The biggest companies call them up instead of the other way around!