The Block

Interviews — 2 months ago

Working with Friends with No Bad Days

Jake Hollick and Gabriel Szatan, the duo behind No Bad Days, first met in Nottingham, where Gabriel was a student and Jake was a promoter and a resident DJ at nightclub Stealth. 

 

Fast-forward nearly a decade, and No Bad Days has blossomed organically from a radio show into a series of parties and a record label, with the show still going to this day too. Jake’s spent stints working at Church and YAM Records, and is now an in-house promoter at Corsica Studios, and Gabriel was previously an editor, host and programmer at Boiler Room, and now writes for the likes of Resident Advisor, RBMA, Crack, and The Guardian. To create their logo and the No Bad Days aesthetic, they turned to Tom, who Jake met working at a Hackney music venue. 

 

For insights into their design process, how they work together, and why they sell T-shirts, we caught up with Jake Hollick.

Words
Everpress Team
Photography
Rob Jones
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No Bad Days photographed by Rob Jones

Work With Friends

For Jake, teaming up with mates is a no-brainer. “Work with your pals,” he says. “It may test your friendship but it’s cool to discuss projects over dinner or a pint down at the pub.” One of the key things to consider when embarking on a project with friends is balance – think in terms of skills you’re lacking, or an input you need.

Jake credits the easy working relationship of the group to the fact that, although there is overlap, they have different interests and strengths. “Tom’s day job is graphic design, he prefers bands to DJs and pubs to clubs,” he says. “That aides our working relationship pretty nicely actually. Tom views the work from a very pure design standpoint, whereas I’ll bring the DJ/promoter view for a record or poster design. It’s a nice balance.” And their friends-first approach extends to freebies too. “Give some out to your mates for free from time to time,” says Jake. “It’s nice to be nice!”

No Bad Days’ Sushi Soirée T-shirt

Find Your Design Process

When it comes to collaborating with friends, or anyone for that matter, developing a design process that works well for everyone will help it all fall into place. This will depend a lot on the skills you have and what each party brings to the table, and the right process will look different for different people and teams. It could mean volleying ideas back and forth, sharing sketches until something starts to emerge, or developing a brief that one person will go away and respond to. The No Bad Days team’s approach is pretty fluid. “In terms of our process, usually I’d go to Tom with an idea,”  says Jake. “Sometimes I’ll do a sketch (badly) and he makes it look sexy. Other times it’s a case of he’ll design something for a poster and we’ll just be like, “Well that HAS to be on a tee!””

It’s cool to discuss projects over dinner or a pint 

In terms of designing their logo, Jake describes the process as a combination of trial and error, and being able to see old work in a new light. “Initially, we had this idea for a face with the letters NBD as the features of the face. We tried and tried but just couldn’t get it to a standard where we were happy,” he says. “Tom had drawn ‘the face’ exactly as it is now as a bit of fun a few months beforehand. He showed it to me at the time and I was like “Oh sick! That’s what our logo should be like.” We kept reverting back to it for inspiration and eventually we had that lightbulb moment where we realised it had been quite literally staring at us in the face all along.”

Jake Hollick Photographed By Rob Jones (www.instagram.com/hirobjones)

Link It Back

When designing T-shirts that are an offshoot of your main project, it can be tricky to know where to start. Jake advises looking to what you’ve already got on for inspiration. “Link it back to something else you’re working on, an album, a playlist, a party, anything,” he says. “People like to join the dots.” If you’ve got another idea you’d love to try though, don’t be afraid even if it’s not super tied-in to what you already do. While No Bad Days tend to bring out tees that riff on their projects, they’re not dogmatic about this. “Most of our tees directly reference the parties, our radio show or our “Floaty Yet Punchy” Spotify playlist,” says Jake. “Others like the Balearic House Mafia tee is very much just a tongue firmly in cheek word salad that popped into our heads one day.” 

No Bad Days Photographed By Rob Jones

Give It A Go

No Bad Days have put out seven T-shirts with us now, but they didn’t have a firm plan mapped out at the beginning. “At first it was kind of an experiment you know, see how it goes,” says Jake. “It felt like a very straight forward process and naturally we started to build up a nice relationship with Everpress.” It’s a testament to keeping a loose approach, giving things a try and seeing where they might lead. 

People like to join the dots

Think Practically

Jake thinks practically too, right down to the price bracket they opt for. While our price calculator makes it easy to work out profit and what you should be charging, Jake says it’s worth thinking about the context your tees will be sold in too. “Price point is pretty vital too of course,” he says. “Some people don’t think twice about dropping £40 or £50 on a tee, whereas £25 might be the max for some others. Ours tend to range from £18 to £27.”

No Bad Days’ Trumpy Tee

Would I Wear This Myself?

Jake echoes many in our community when he explains how No Bad Days approach designing their T-shirts. “Firstly,” he says, “it has to be, ‘Would I wear this myself?’. If you’re going to make merchandise, you’re going to want to wear it, right?!” It’s always worth bearing in mind that you’re not trying to design for an ideal, imaginary customer. Design for yourself and ultimately it’s likely that anyone who’s a fan of your work already will be into your T-shirt. Plus, it’s hard to get behind a design you don’t rate yourself; making a T-shirt you’d want to wear means that showcasing it to your audience will come naturally. “As our design is quite playful, it lends itself well to a cheeky T-shirt,” says Jake. “I’m one of those people that loves wearing a music related tee – shout out Turbo Island! – so had been wanting to do our own for some time.” 

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