Steve Price: Plan B Studio

by Kate Andrews | August 31, 2010

Founded and run by Steve Price, Plan-B Studio is a design consultancy specialising in design and art direction spanning an array of media for the fashion, music, PR, film, corporate, NGO and mobile communications sectors as well as design strategy and planning. We caught up with Steve this month to uncover a little more about his career and recent projects.

Notes on Design: Can you give us a brief insight into who you are and what you do? How did your career start?

Steve: Even though (after twelve years) I think they understand what it is I do I am very lucky that I have a very supportive family first and foremost. I also have to credit the beginning of my career to my art teacher. I was fifteen when she pulled me in to her store room to give me a bollocking. Told me that if I actually applied myself I could make something of this. I often think about her and that moment, it was pivotal in my life.

Ever since that day I have applied myself 100%. How my career has gone since then is like everyone elses – like a roller coaster with highs and lows. Working for yourself is incredibly stressful, tiring, stressful (did I already say that?) but more importantly rewarding and it offers me the flexibility I need in my life.

Notes on Design: How and why did you choose a career in graphic design?

Steve: I chose graphic design whilst on my foundation course at Maidstone Art School. I barely knew what it was, but it seemed the most logical path for me. I was (still am) crap at practical building or spatial design; interiors, products, etc.

I found I really jelled with the approach of graphic design, and the commercial element made sense to me; I could see the value of good design. I loved the array of media that was seemingly available to play with; working on letterpress, printmaking and hand-rendering 8pt/12pt type just seemed to click with me. It still does; I start every project with my moleskin and a pencil, and sketching. Even if the idea is already formulated in my head I like to force myself to make a note, to sketch the idea out. With the digital era firmly in place it is easy to be complacent and to sit in front of the computer some more, but using a pencil and book helps me at least feel like I’ve created something by hand to begin with.

Notes on Design: What led you to go it alone and set up the Plan-B Studio?

Steve: The dot com crash. I was reveling in the sunshine that was the dot com boom like most. But when it went tits-up I wasn’t too concerned for some reason. being made redundant always felt like a challenge to me; a good one. Like being forced to do something new, for the better. Within six months I’d been made redundant twice so finally in July 2000 I promised myself that if I was going to be made redundant it would be my responsibility. So on a piece of paper I wrote ‘Plan-A: get another job | Plan-B go it alone’.

Notes on Design: What would you say was your creative break, and what has been the pivotal piece of work you are most proud of?

Steve: To be honest I don’t think I’ve had a ‘creative break’. I’m expecting one along any time soon. But I realise that it takes a lot of hard work, a pinch of luck and a dash of ‘right time, right place’.

There are lots of pieces of work that I am proud of. The projects I was involved with for Friends of the Earth were great. I used to want to do record sleeves because you get to go in the HMV and see it. But I soon realised that the music industry was not for me; too many people wanting to go in to HMV to see their work!

Project10, is something that I am really proud of. Last week I launched the first of many projects, this one in particular is a poster I designed that was printed by Generation Press (who donated their time) on GF Smith paper in order to raise money for a boy called Jack who has autism. Your readers can donate £25 (+P&P) to Jack by buying one of the 100 limited editions here.

Notes on Design: Can you tell us more about Project 10 – the motivations for undertaking it and what you’ve learnt during the last 6 months?

Steve: This is the tenth year of operation for Plan-B Studio. To celebrate it I decided that apart from having a party and getting drunk I would try to do something more substantial.

So, in January of this year, I set out to find ten NGO/NFP’s (or ‘fun’) projects to work with to launch ten projects by October 10th 2010 (10.10.10). It soon dawned on me that it was simply not possible to do ten projects in ten months, not least because some take time to organise, others are just slow burners and (as with everything else in life) it is more important to focus on quality, not quantity.

What is great about Project10 is that i have been introduced to some truly remarkable people who are all for collaboration. And that has become a word that really captivates the true essence of Project10; collaboration. Most of the projects I am working on wouldn’t or will not exist without the involvement of one or many people. But it is hugely inspiring and it is helping motivate me to focus and do more work. Okay, it’s not paid work, but it’s it has much greater rewards.

As part of the process I have also produced a monthly newspaper promoting the projects, but mainly promoting other forms of collaboration going on out there; indeed the newspaper is a collaboration of people kindly contributing the content. It is a lot of work but it’s one reason why I like getting out of bed in the morning.


To see more of Steve’s work visit plan-bstudio.com, visit his blog at www.designweak.com and follow him on twitter @planbstudio.

Designer and writer Kate Andrews was the original editor of Notes on Design blog, founded in 2007.

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