Ten Questions for: Tony Brook

Spin founder Tony Brook discusses the importance of being nice and his fear of boredom.

Tony Brook

When did you realise you wanted to be a designer?

I was about 14 years old, I was into art to the detriment of almost everything else. My mother, obviously aware of my growing obsession, suggested that I could be a commercial artist and get paid, as opposed to being a fine artist and starving. This seemed an attractive proposition at the time and still does.

What was your first job?

Shoot that Tiger! Designing record sleeves. I landed on my feet after a miserable year on the dole traipsing around looking for work. I walked in the door with my portfolio as someone else was storming out. Talk about luck. It wasn’t as glamorous as it sounds, there were some nice jobs but a lot of graft too. It wasn’t my dream job but I will always be grateful for it.

How would you describe what you currently do?

I’m a graphic designer.

What has been the biggest change in design since you started?

Computers have obviously had a profound effect on what is made and what it looks like. Many wonderful crafts have been laid to waste by them and that is sad, but I don’t miss painting type in gouache if I’m honest.

What is your favourite project, that you’ve worked on?

Working on agi-open.com was pretty exciting, the Wim Crouwel exhibition at the Design Museum was incredible, forming Unit Editions is right up there – there are so many it’s not possible to choose. I’ve been very fortunate.

What is your favourite project, that you haven’t worked on?

Mode en Module or Printed Matter by Karel Martens. Two wonderfully innovative books by a great designer. In a perfect world everyone would have them.

What was your biggest mistake?

Being too ambitious and letting Spin grow too big at one point. It was very difficult for me as I had only worked in fairly small studios and had no experience about how to deal with so many people. We are now where we should be.

What is your greatest ambition?

Not to be overly ambitious would be the glib response! I’m living my ambition, Spin is in fantastic shape, making strong work (in my humble opinion), Unit Editions is incredibly satisfying and both entities are full-on and demand constant attention. That’s how it should be, no time to rest on my laurels. My biggest fear is boredom and there’s no chance of that at the moment.

Who is the most inspirational person you have worked with?

A big part of my life has been spent being inspired by the people I work with, I couldn’t possibly choose one person.

What piece of advice would you give to people starting out in design?

Don’t give up, keep adding to your body of work, develop great digital skills, be nice and you will make it.

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