Interviews: Sam Parrett of Set Sail Studios
A quick interview with the man behind great fonts such as Faith & Glory, Have Heart & Fresh Script just to name a few. Read on & learn a little bit about more about Sam Parrett from Set Sail Studios.
If you haven’t used his work before, you’ve definitely seen it around. Fonts such as Faith & Glory, Have Heart, Fresh Script, Bayshore, & Madina Script, just to name a few, have quickly become absolute favourites of designers around the globe, and it isn’t hard to see why. The natural feel of Sam’s work is astounding. If you’re looking for a font that truly gives the impression of your work being hand-done, Set Sail Studios would be the first place to look.
So give me a brief introduction of who you are:
Hello! I’m Sam Parrett, 29, from the UK & the designer behind Set Sail Studios
When did you first get interested in lettering?
Graphic Design in general had always been a big interest of mine, and what started out as a hobby turned into a full-time freelance career after taking the plunge in 2010. The majority of my projects soon became logo & branding jobs, so it was kind of a natural progression into bespoke lettering and exploring more hand-crafted styles. The whole lettering bug actually started out because of a rejected logo concept – I thought I’d turn it into a font as a little side project, and that side project very quickly turned into a full time operation!
Where do you find the most inspiration for your work?
It can come from pretty much anywhere! Although being a freelance designer for a good 5 years before making any fonts meant I had a pretty large backlog of ideas and a bit of an insight into what I thought were gaps in the market. So my first bunch of releases were very much just me pushing the boundaries and creating a style of fonts that I hadn’t seen done before. More recently though I’ve been paying a bit more attention to what’s trending – sites like Pinterest and Instagram are great for getting a quick dose of design inspiration and seeing what’s hot in the creative world.
If you weren’t designing fonts, what else would you enjoy doing for a living?
Oh man, that’s a tough one. I honestly can’t see myself doing anything else! I think that’s the reason I push myself as much as possible to make this work. I didn’t have many jobs before being a designer but the ones I did, I most definitely sucked at. If I was in another career it would have to be another personal project, something like photography or as a musician. I was in a heavy metal band about 10 years ago, so maybe in an another dimension that was successful and I’ve replaced Kirk Hammett as the Metallica guitarist.
When did you start Set Sail Studios & where did the name come from?
It started in 2010 as a joint project between myself and a photographer friend Steven Prebble, so we could offer our clients a complete package of design & photography services. We primarily worked within the music industry so got to work on some really fun projects and eventually with some bigger artists which is something I’ll always be proud of. The name doesn’t really relate to anything too specifically – we just wanted something that was positive and ‘set sail’ worked in the sense of ‘we’ll help your project take-off’. We dabbled with some other names like ‘take flight studios’, but set sail had a cool ring to it and the nautical theme was really popular at the time. Eventually though that venture ran it’s course and it transitioned into and online store for fonts & design resources – Steven’s now running his own photography project and we remain good friends.
Is the bulk of your work done with physical or digital tools? Which do you prefer?
It’s pretty much a complete mix of both to be honest! The hand-lettering movement is huge at the moment and it’s great to be riding on that wave, so the majority of my fonts are hand drawn to begin with and then vectorised and inputted into the font software. More recently though I’ve designed a couple of fonts 100% digitally (Crystal Sky & Bayshore) after investing in a new tablet. It was great to skip the dreaded scanning process, but I think deep down I’ll always prefer working with physical tools – you’re not restricted by any software and are totally free to let your imagination & ideas run wild.
Which was your favourite font to create so far?
In terms of the actual creation process I really enjoyed making Sabotaged – I even made the ruling pen I used myself out of a cola can and a pencil, so it really felt like a DIY project. I didn’t have much of a concept for the font except that I wanted it loud & aggressive, and then just spent about 3 days of going nuts with this pen and seeing what happened, it was a lot of fun and kind of therapeutic, and very ‘me’ (i.e. winging it).
What’s your personal favourite font to use right now?
I think the font I’m using the most often at the moment is probably Montserrat – it’s just a great sans serif font that pairs with pretty much anything! If I had to pick a personal favourite at the moment though I’m a big fan of Jibriel by Mikrojihad, it just looks so bad-ass and you can make any word look like an epic fantasy movie logo in an instant – that’s one of the things I really love about fonts.
What do you find to be the most rewarding part of what you do?
I think most designers would agree that it has to be seeing your work out there in the big wide world. It’s pretty surreal when I’m just popping into town to do some shopping and then seeing one of my fonts on the side of a bus or on a billboard – it’s like, hey, “I painted that in my underwear!” (note: I don’t always paint in my underwear. Only when I’m lacking inspiration). A personal favourite though has to be when WWE used my font ’Sickamore’ for their show titles having been a fan growing up, the 12 year old me would have been so hyped!
What type of advice would you give an aspiring creative looking to earn a living with their passion?
I think the important thing about that question is the earning a living part – and unfortunately it does take time to get to that stage. But remember that everyone sucked at one point – and you do have to suck at first! But don’t worry about that – it’s really important that you just keep doing what you enjoy and don’t let your work dry up or let anyone sway you off-course, work on some personal projects if you’re portfolio is lacking or you’re having trouble booking in the right clients. I guarantee that eventually people will start to take notice and bigger & better opportunities will come your way.