From Design Boy to Design Man

A Journey Into Design Manhood

Matter Design Case Study

I interviewed Rick Griffith, owner of Matter Design in Denver. I wanted to know more about his company and the pro bono work they have done and why they did it. Here’s what he had to say.

Please give me a brief history of your company and what you feel best describes what your company does. What are its core values?

Founded in 2000, the studio has been primarily concerned with the possibilities available when the primary mechanics for production are inside the studio, the focus has been typographic since it’s inception, thusly the tools we have configured are relevant to this interest. Wod type, letterpress printers, proof presses, lead type, screenprinting, etc.

What kind of clients do you normally work with? Why? Do you work more in a certain area of design than another?

We seek the best of breed in many categories. For the most part it is a compatible person were looking for, client contact, honesty, vision, and trustworthiness.

What kind of pro bono work have you done in the past? Do you feel that doing pro bono work is important? Why?

Most recently to launch the Denver Charter for a Non-profit Rock and Roll Summer Camp for Girls (Girls Rock). Because we believe. Girls should Rock.

Please choose a pro bono project that was particularly important to you or that you were especially wanting to do. What made this project important? How do you prioritize pro bono work vs. paid work?

We grant all of our clients equal access, we seldom find ourselves withdrawing or receding from pro bono work simply for reasons of time or bill-ability. Our commitments are strong. A girls only rock and roll summer camp is important because, there isn’t one. Girls aren’t expected to have the same interests, but they do.

For this above project, what were your expected deliverables? What was your timeline for the project, and was this timeline affected because it was pro bono vs. paid? Are the pro bono projects you take usually under as rigid of a schedule as a paid project?

The expected deliverables for Girls Rock Denver included the following: Sponsorship Brochure, Flyers for Camp, Flyers for Showcase, Flyers for Fundraiser Show, Tote Bags, Camp Shirts, Lanyards, Band Tee’s for each band in the Camp.

The timeline for the project was similar to many other projects; from start to finish about two and a half months. The great thing about recent pro bono work is that it has been scheduled with enough time that it tends to avoid interrupting the flow of our paid work. Our schedule for all of our projects tends to be the same, regardless of type.

Please describe to me the creative process at Matter. What is your methodology when you get a project? Does this process change when you do pro bono work vs. paid work? Do you feel more passionate about the pro bono work and work differently because of this?

The creative process at MATTER is project dependent. It is largely unwritten, although the management of expectations is a piece that we take very seriously. Essentially, any project that comes through our doors gets similar treatment to the last and next, regardless of cost to the client. We look at the client needs, and execute with research, revision and final product as is necessary. As far as passion for each project, that is highly dependent as well. We typically choose our clients, especially pro bono, in a way that we know that we would love to both assist and further the goals of the organization. In the case of Girls Rock Denver, Adeline Lord, the project lead, and Lauren Kwan, another female designer, found an extra special place in their hearts’ for the cause of empowering girls to be awesome.

How do you measure the success of a project (pro bono or paid)? What kind of communication do you have with the client after the project is finished? Do you receive a lot of feedback? How does communication with the client after the end of a project affect your company?

Success metrics, like the creative process, differ for every client. In this case, raising awareness of then new Denver charter of Girls Rock, and facilitating the conversation about logo design in the Rock n’ Roll Sphere with these remarkable young ladies were the two main goals of the project.


Filed under: Design Firm Case Study

Preliminary Research

Matter is a design firm in Denver that does a plethora of design work in various fields, including corporate design, cultural projects, identity, web, and a significant amount of print work. After speaking with someone at the firm, it seems as though they’ve done a lot of pro bono work.

Their strongest work in my eyes is their print work, and it seems that they would agree as their web site features a myriad of examples of print and less of things such as web. Their attention to typography is especially prevalent when looking through their work on the web site, and they seem to pride themselves on their excellent typographical abilities. According to many of the descriptions of their previous projects, they enjoy getting the opportunity to make art out of type in their posters and other print work.

AIGA Colorado Poster

After looking through the work on their web site, I’m sure at least some of what they’re showing is pro bono work, but I’m supposed to speak with their creative director Rick Griffith to find out more about their creative process and their pro bono work. According to the site, he was at one point the Programming Chair, Vice President, eventual President, then back to Programming Chair of the Advisory Board of AIGA Colorado, so I’m very excited to hear about his firm’s creative process and see how close it is to the AIGA one that we read in class!

Filed under: Design Firm Case Study