The Interview - Yoke

I'm thrilled to kick off this new series of Interviews with a great Scottish designer - YOKE.
I'd seen Mark's work on websites and blogs before but never in the flesh until very recently. I purchased a DIY Bunting Kit kit from Chirpy, and they also stock YOKE's prints. I was blown away by the vividness of the colours in their prints -  sunny yellows, hot pinks and turquoises - all my favourite shades! Their current range includes greetings cards, tea towels, prints and invitations. 

I was interested to find about more their work and how they come up with their designs, so I asked Mark for a little interview and he was happy to oblige! 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hello, I'm Mark, the founder and creative director at YOKE. I studied illustration at Duncan Of Jordanstone in Scotland and it was there I developed my passion for screen printing. In my final year I pretty much spent the whole year up in the screen printing studios and most of my work involved some form of print. It was something about the hands on, uncertain nature of printing I loved with the vibrant colour and bold imagery of my work ideal for the screen printing process.

Having left university around 2 years ago, (eek that's so long ago!) I was determined to have a career in the design world. This meant I made the decision to do things myself and started to develop YOKE. In the early days it certainly didn't look the way it does now, there was lots of development along the way until I was happy with a uniform style and something that would scream YOKE as soon as you saw it. Having a brand identity was really important to me and I worked on everything for about a year before launching in 2010!

Have you always wanted to be a designer?

Throughout art college I was always interested in most of the disciplines available at art college. I plumped for Illustration not sure I had made the right decision and still could have quite easily gone into other disciplines. I love design, pattern and illustration and I have a real passion for big, bold, bright images. So I have certainly made the right decision to be part of the design world. If I wasn't part of YOKE I would definitely be chasing a career in creative visual merchandising or surface pattern design and these are still things I would like to do. 

What inspires you? 

Inspiration can literally come from anything or anywhere. An advert on the telly, everyday life, magazines, designers. I think its important to look outside the design world for inspiration and try to do something different from everybody else. I am currently developing the new range for 2013 and trying to create something new to the marketplace.

Who is your design hero? 

Hmmm, this is tricky but someone who jumps out in my mind is Sanna Annukka. Her work makes me excited and I absolutely love her style, sense of fun and colour in her work. Another person I greatly admire is product designer, Lee Broom, his work is so simple and stylish with a huge sense of playfulness.  

Where do you work from?

My studio is above an old listed Church Hall. I have my own private spiral staircase which leads me to the front door which is a brilliant peachy colour and from there it has 3 separate rooms. There is a big church window with lead piping in my main studio space and it has great views over the river which is on the street outside. I have a brilliant retro orange sofa  which I love and is great to chill out on and try to surround myself with inspiring objects and imagery. There is a desk devoted to developing the new range and it has samples, colours, images and all sorts on there and it really gives my a sense of how the new collection will come together.

What are you most proud of? 

I definitely would say I am most proud of doing things for myself. Starting out is not easy and can be so daunting. When I think about what I have achieved, it makes me proud to think that I made it happen. I am doing what I wanted to do and exciting things along the way make it so much fun and keep me going. Some highlights include, receiving a commission from Marks and Spencer for a series of illustrations to be applied to wrapping paper, cards and gift bags. Having my products in shops all over the UK and worldwide. Exhibiting at my first major trade show in London. Being named as one to watch alongside French Connection Home. 

Whats the nicest/ hardest thing about running your own business?

The nicest thing is being totally in control of what I design, what things look like and what products I design. Its totally me and when you receive great feedback or something exciting happens the sense of achievement is great. 

The hardest thing is being your own boss, having to be 100% motivated for yourself and picking yourself up and moving on when things are quiet. 

Whats next for YOKE? 

As I have mentioned I am currently developing the new range of YOKE products and designs for 2013! This will see YOKE move in a slightly different direction with a higher end product and new marketplace. The collection focuses on Home interiors and will see cushions, prints and something a little new appear. Launching at the incredible Bread & Butter trade show In Berlin in July 2013, this is something I am really looking forward to! 

Thank you Mark for taking the time to answer my questions. I'm very excited about seeing the new work! If you want to see more of YOKE please visit their site here.  All images used with kind permission and taken from the YOKE website.