Elliot Jay Stocks is a designer, speaker, and author. He is the Creative Director of Adobe Typekit, the founder of typography magazine 8 Faces, one half of Viewport Industries, and an electronic musician.

Designers I would recommend

Posted on 08 February 2013 17 comments

On the occasion when I have to turn away a potential client project — usually due to time constraints, but really for any reason — the client almost always responds with the question, ‘so which designers would you recommend we contact instead?’

Up until now, I feel like I’ve done a pretty bad job of answering that question. Usually it involves me searching through my sent mail for the last time I answered it, only to find that I didn’t answer it very well that time either. And that’s if I can find such an email; if I can’t, I usually cobble together a very short list of anyone that comes to mind at that particular time. In doing so, I’m doing a disservice to the client — because there are probably many more people I could recommend — and to my designer friends — because I could probably be sending a lot more work their way.

So, this post is an attempt to change that. It may see edits over time, but I’m intending it to be a place I can send clients who ask that question. One simple link. Nice and easy.

I also hope that it might become a semi-useful (albeit slightly biased) resource for anyone else out there looking for designer recommendations, especially as these recommendations are personal ones. A personal recommendation is infinitely better than a cold search around the web, isn’t it?

Disclaimer 1: Before we get to the list, I’m going to freely admit that the vast majority of the people I’m recommending here are friends; many of them close friends. To the naysayers who will inevitably moan about this blatant favouritism, I say this: of course I’m going to recommend my friends. It’s human nature. But also it indicates that I know what they’re like as people, and that can often be more important than actual design skills.

Disclaimer 2: Please note that for those designers employed by day at companies, only those who still freelance on the side have been included on the list below (which makes me a bit sad — there are many former freelancers I would’ve loved to put on this list). I’ve also omitted independent designers who create products rather than do client work. Oh, and if they’re part of a studio, they’re probably in the ‘studios’ list a bit further down.

Disclaimer 3: Feel free to leave a comment if you’d like to recommend someone for the list, but please bear in mind that I will probably only add them if they also happen to be a mutual friend or if I absolutely love their work, and can see that they’re consistently good across a number of projects.

Sound good? Right, here we go then:

Solo designers / art directors / consultants

Small-ish design (and development) studios

I’m sure I’ve missed some folks, so please expect some revisions. Either way, I hope this proves useful. I’m thinking of doing a ‘developers I would recommend’ list as well. In fact, how about illustrators, writers, speakers, etc.? If you’d like to read them, let me know.

17 comments

  1. Foxinni

    Foxinni

    08 February 2013 @ 12:51PM #

    Thanks for sharing Elliot. I hope to twist your arm and get onto the list myself in a few weeks. ;)

  2. Conor MacNeill

    Conor MacNeill

    08 February 2013 @ 01:09PM #

    I like the work of Laura Kalbag :)

  3. TJ Anderson

    TJ Anderson

    08 February 2013 @ 01:45PM #

    Would any of these make a great mentor for someone newish to the industry and looking for the senior guidance, that I sorely seem to be lacking currently.

    Thanks,
    TJ

  4. Kai

    Kai

    08 February 2013 @ 03:10PM #

    Lots of familiar names, but good quality list. As a potential client I would probably find it less useful, because 75% of the people mentioned above are probably more than busy enough as is and the chances of them being able to take on any new client work within a realistic timeframe are slim. Would an alternative list of lesser known folks have been better?

  5. Elliot Jay Stocks

    Elliot Jay Stocks

    08 February 2013 @ 03:15PM #

    @ Conor: Good call! Totally forgot about Laura, foolishly. Added her now.

    @ Kai: In my opinion, there are quite a few lesser-known names on this list, in amongst the very big ones. If they’re not on this list, perhaps I don’t know about them, eh? Odd that you would think I’d deliberately omit lesser-known people.

  6. Anna Debenham

    Anna Debenham

    08 February 2013 @ 03:27PM #

    Just want to personally vouch for Laura Kalbag and Ryan Taylor, who I’ve worked with before. Talented, reliable folk. :)

  7. Kai

    Kai

    08 February 2013 @ 03:28PM #

    Nah, don’t think that. I just come across similar problems every now and then (needing to recommend a list of good, reliable designers), and the above names always come to mind. But I know that when I recommend them, most potential clients will probably receive a similar answer (“too busy”). Anyway, just thought it’d be more useful to recommend some folks that could use the promotion. Keep it up! :)

  8. Elliot Jay Stocks

    Elliot Jay Stocks

    08 February 2013 @ 03:30PM #

    @ Kai: Please point me towards some of these lesser-known people and I will gladly add them to the list! Like I said, at the moment the only reason they’re not on there is probably because I don’t know about them. :)

  9. Anton Peck

    Anton Peck

    08 February 2013 @ 03:33PM #

    Excellent list! Thank you for posting this – I’ll be happy to help share it.

  10. Kristina Auckland

    Kristina Auckland

    08 February 2013 @ 03:36PM #

    Hi Elliot

    Great list, and if I may I’d like to recommend the guys at fhoke.com. Lovely, friendly guys and they do consistently superb work.

    Thank you
    Kristina

  11. Brade

    Brade

    08 February 2013 @ 09:46PM #

    Good list & Good idea.

    Would Nick La qualify for this list? I’m consistently impressed by his work.
    Also: Dan Mall?

  12. Cahil Bey

    Cahil Bey

    08 February 2013 @ 10:34PM #

    I think I’ll never understand what’s special about Sarah Parmenter as a designer. How did she deserve that reputation?

    In addition to your list:
    • Andy Gugel – www.32round.com
    • Wilson Miner – www.wilsonminer.com
    • Group94 – www.g94.com

    Thanks for sharing.

  13. Steve Struemph

    Steve Struemph

    08 February 2013 @ 11:17PM #

    Thank you for this post, Elliot. I was just doing research and looking at other designer’s portfolios for inspiration. This list is perfect for that.

  14. Matthew Buchanan

    Matthew Buchanan

    09 February 2013 @ 12:29AM #

    Bowled over by being included here, Elliot. A big thank you from the team!

  15. Abid

    Abid

    10 February 2013 @ 08:19PM #

    I would add Ian James Cox (http://ianjamescox.com).
    Definitely a rising talent in the industry.

  16. Pete Coles

    Pete Coles

    15 February 2013 @ 11:36AM #

    Cheers for the mention Elliot, we (fffunction) really appreciate being listed amongst so many talented people.

    I found Kai’s comment about clients assuming people and agencies like those on the list (and Mr Stocks himself) being too busy to take on new clients an interesting one. I’m wondering if that’s more to do with ‘tech within tech’ work, where clients are working from a list of people they’ve shortlisted to work with, rather than looking for designers who have a particular style or experience in a certain field. Would be interesting to hear more thoughts on that.

    As for fffunction, we’d love to get some new clients on board, so we’d be happy to hear from anyone who’s got a project they’d like to work with us on.

    Cheers Elliot

  17. Elliot Jay Stocks

    Elliot Jay Stocks

    20 February 2013 @ 10:13AM #

    @ Brade: Dan Mall is on the list, but under his ‘Superfriendly’ studio.

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