Hi, my name is Sean Makin and I am a freelance graphic designer, creative director & podcaster based in Fife.
I am currently the Creative Director of twohundredby200 a small design studio based in Fife, Scotland.
I was born into the era of spangles, ringos, questionable fashion trends and the cold war which I think partly explains some of my many strange obsessions and why I tend to round the corners of boxes without thinking.
My design career started later than most other designers. I tried a few different careers before settling on being a designer to make a living. It was while I was a mechanical fitter refitting nuclear submarines in the dead of a Scottish winter that I decided to make the switch. I can even pin point the day it happened.
A frosty night
I was working a night shift and was jammed in the tight and freezing confines of the hydroplane space of an old nuclear submarine. Sparks were flying over the top me, the air was filled with the deafening noise of high speed air tools, the ice cold metal of the hull was rapidly sucking the heat from the core of my bones, a rather large fella was shouting at me to get a move on so he could go for a “dump” and that is when it happened.
A sling holding a heavy bit kit in place failed sending a couple tons of steel hurtling toward me. Thankfully at it was just at that instant that I dropped my tap wrench and, as I bent down to pick it up, I narrowly missed being crushed to death.
“Bugger this”, I thought after realising what had just missed my frozen noggin. “There has to be a better way to make a living.”
A new direction
The next day I applied for a college place, handed in my notice to the dockyard and started on my journey into the design world. The college course covered traditional and modern sign making with the first year being exclusively the learning of the traditional sign writing skills which was hugely enjoyable.
The love of traditional sign writing has remained with me and I still occasionally break out the brushes and a can of ‘One Shot’ paint to knock up a quick gate sign for friends and family. It truly is satisfying to get away from the Mac and make something that is not 100% perfect but is indeed 100% beautiful.
Learning the signs
After graduation I went to work for an amazing small sign shop in Fife where both traditional and modern approaches were taken towards producing signage.
The sign shop produced stunning work with each project being treated as something special. I owe a lot to the owners of that shop as they taught me to learn as much as I can about the world of design and all it’s facets. From that small sign shop I then moved on to work for much bigger sign and display companies learning more and more as I went on.
I gradually moved in to the exhibition and event side of the industry and worked for a company which was, at that time, the biggest graphics company in the world. It was there I developed my skills much further and I got involved in designing exhibitions and interiors for some of the most prestigious museums, galleries and retailers across Europe.
Early in 2000 I made a move into the public relations and marketing arena and I worked for an agency whose accounts involved some of the nations largest outdoors events and charities. This period of time helped to give me an in-depth understanding on how the PR and marketing sectors worked.
It was at the time that the internet was making big waves (dot com boom) and so, never being one to miss out on something good, I made my next move into designing for the web. It was a crazy time. Web designers were treated like rockstars but it all came down to earth later that year when the stock markets lost interest and thousands of studios closed their doors.
A new beginning
As 2002 got underway I was beginning to get bored of working on nothing but straight laced corporate brochures and annual reports so I began to look at other avenues where I could be creative in exciting ways.
In May that year I started an online creative submission based project which became eventually became the twohundredby200 magazine. The magazine was a great project to work on and I quickly began to get enquiries from people interested in working with me on various projects and so the twohundredby200 studio was born.
twohundredby200 is truly a great studio. We work with all sorts of clients across many different disciplines while supporting the next generation of creatives by mentoring, presenting talks and running creative events through 200 Digital.
Everyday is an adventure.
Why go freelance?
After many years of working in a studio environment I found that I missed the early days of my career when I freelanced for different studios working on many different types of project. I think that by venturing back into the freelance arena I will get to experience more of the excitement of the design challenge.