Behind the Biz: Frankie Young
It’s that time again, team!
We bring to you another joyful interview from our Behind the Biz series today – featuring branding wizard and our #1 Instagram crush, Frankie Young of Studio Neubau. Frankie is a true gem within the design industry, and specialises in refined, thoughtful and effortlessly cool brand identities and editorial work. If you can’t already tell, we’re HUGE fans of her work, and we think you will be too…
Who’s That Girl?
Firstly, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I was born in Germany and lived in Germany, the UK and Argentina before settling here in Brisbane – over ten years ago now (wait, whaaaat?).
How has 2018 been for you so far?
Pretty wonderful! I got to work on great projects with some dream clients, and I took a month of in the middle of the year to visit family in Germany and creatively recharge (aka buy 20 kg worth of books and magazines, and cram in as many exhibitions as possible) … and had a lot of great dinners out with friends.
What was it like living in beautiful Brisbane?
Dreamy. I love the warm weather, and the winter light is just divine … it makes me chuckle though when I consider that I’ve never been as cold in icy German winter as I am here, shivering in the beautiful morning sun in my chilly old worker’s cottage.
Brisbane is full of inspiration. It offers everything from beach to culture and anything in between. So many fantastic restaurants and venues (both for work and play) have opened up in the past year – and let’s not forget all the amazing local talent of maker and creatives! It’s the perfect mix between laid back charm and creative hub.
What is home to you?
I would feel entirely at home in an awesome magazine shop, in fact – I’d gladly move in! … I always loved moving around, so home has never been a place for me, more a feeling. I am at home every time I talk to my mum on the phone for instance. After ten years though, Brisbane certainly has become home and it’s where my strongest social connections are.
What was your professional background prior to launching Studio Neubau?
I had a bit of a long winded road to Studio Neubau. I spent almost a decade in hotel management (I mean, I got to hang out in five star hotels every day. What’s not to love, right?) before crossing over to office management.
Once I decided to make my love of design my profession, I spent almost three years freelancing and working for other studios before feeling brave enough to branch out on my own.
Did you complete any formal studies or are you self taught?
I’d like to pretend that years spent in galleries across Europe, and collecting magazines and printed goods from a young age comprise formal studies … and I did study Graphic Design at Shillington College here in Brisbane, which finally put all the puzzle pieces together and I realised “Holy S&*% — THAT’S what I am meant to do with my life.” It took while to get here.
What inspired you to choose a path in design and editorial work?
Looking back, everything lead up to this point, and I actually don’t know what took me so long. If you ever meet me at a book or magazine store … seeing my reaction to printed goods, layouts and great design will speak more than a thousand words.
You are the typeface QUEEN – how do you manage to find so many stunning fonts and what’s your best tip for creating a good typeface combo?
Ha, you always say the kindest things. I am not sure I am a queen, but I certainly l o v e typography. I honestly spend a lot of time looking at fonts, both online and in printed publications, researching fonts in use and buying fonts.
There’s two sides to creating beautiful type pairings. One is technical … a serif and sans serif pairing is great for instance — easy, right? But knowing to look at the typographic details of each typeface, so they contrast with and enhance each other takes practice.
The other side is emotion … typefaces evoke immediate emotional responses. Tapping into those is super helpful when choosing a font to achieve a particular vibe for your designs.
What is your secret to a beautiful layout?
A very tight grid and column structure … and Unsplash for those supporting images, ha! It’s treading that fine line between head and heart, technical and emotional execution … although, when in doubt go with your gut feeling—always!
Do you have a favourite/most memorable project?
I’ve been working on so many lovely projects this year. But I am emotionally most attached to a student project of mine, actually … creating a handmade book cover design. I made a water colour drawing for Donna Tartt’s “The little Friend” (Such a great book). From concept to final execution, it all came together so seamlessly, it felt like magic.
What was it like launching your own creative studio?
Exhilarating, anxiety inducing and rewarding AF. It was (and still is) a huge roller coaster for me. I’ve slowly learnt to ignore impostor syndrome though, and what to do or not to do for clients and my business. It never stops though, it’s a constant process on learning, reviewing and growing.
What is your point of difference from other designers/studios?
Uh oh, did I mention impostor syndrome?
I do not suffer BS easily and I give my clients 100% honesty and clarity, always. My approach is very thought driven. I do a lot of ground work and research before designing. So when branding clients get their first logo draft, I only present one concept that’s the culmination of their brand essence, rather than diluting my creative focus and confuse their decision making process with too many options … nobody wants to end up with a Frankenlogo in the end.
Do you have any advice for those just starting out in the design industry?
Trust in yourself, ask for help and do your homework … Always keep in mind that it’s a profession foremost and art/craft second – that way you won’t suffer for your art or get defensive when your concepts are rejected or changed in the review process. Keep your purpose and the brief in mind, and present your concepts with a solid rationale. That way your clients will get designs that are relevant to them and their audience, not just a reflection of your personal taste or current trends. … And please don’t work for free, it devalues your work and the industry.
What is the best part about running your own biz?
Being able to go to the gym for extended weights sessions most days … okay, that’s what keeps me sane … Seriously though, it’s great being able to shift focus when needed, rather than just having to fill a seat from 9 to 5. You work your butt off and put in the long hours when you have to, and other times you’re free to walk away for a bit and recharge.
The ability to completely own my creative approach and not having to compromise my ethics is the absolute best part of running my own studio — it leaves me open to work with like-minded clients, and that’s where the magic happen!
And the worst/most challenging?
The self-doubt and the inconsistent workflow, and therefore up and downs in cash flow to be honest. It can also be isolating at times, so connecting with other creatives and collaborate is essential to not losing your mind, or stagnate.
What’s something that people don’t see/realise that you do (the nitty gritty, behind the scenes stuff)?
How many columns and grids I use in my designs … and how much times goes into researching that typeface that is just right for their brand.
Did you design and develop your own brand and how was the process?
Yeah, I did it myself and it was/is excruciating … we are our own worst critics, aren’t we? The biggest challenge was distinguishing between me as a person and Studio Neubau as a brand. I started out with an almost brutalist black and white look and lots of concrete textures (which is me, personally).
To then refine this into the Studio Neubau identity took a bit of time. Taking a break, and creating a few solid moodboards, helped me refocus and get to where the studio is now. Over a year on though, it’s due for a touch up as my service offering and approach have matured … a content and website review is scheduled for November, so watch that space!
And of course: what inspires you?
Inspiration can be found anywhere, but the best way to find it is to get out and take it offline. I go for walks, visit an exhibition or good book store, and read a lot. It’s important to look outside your day-to-day bubble, to stay curious and ask plenty of questions … and then give it time. Everything you take in needs time and room to form connections and grow into a new idea.
In terms of creative fields, I find that architecture and photography inspire me the most. Photography is immediate and emotional, it is able express raw emotions and complex concepts in a single instance and can inspire an entire creative strategy.
How do you take your tea (or coffee)?
Large latte with one sugar.
Fave coffee shops/cafes at home
Soul Pantry and Willow & Spoon
Go to outfit
Skinny black jeans, black or white shirt and black boots (or tan sandals).
Not giving in to self-doubt and starting Studio Neubau.
Walking at the beach, or hanging out at Powerhouse and QAGOMA … but really, all I want is a sleep in and giant mug of latte.
Haruki Murakami, Brandon Sanderson’s cosmere books and China Mievilles Bas-Lag series.
Ultimate travel destination
So cliche, but New York and Tokyo. I am dying to visit either.
We hope you’re loving this interview series as much as we are! We are curious in nature, and very much enjoy learning the ins and outs of business and start up stories from other female entrepreneurs.
If you have another wonderful lady in mind that you’d like us to interview, drop a comment below or straight to firstname.lastname@example.org
Until the next brew,
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