It's fair to say that multidisciplinary designer Andy Cooke keeps himself busy. He's currently a director at Manchester-based agency MayNinth, a manager at RareKind Illustration Agency, a freelance senior designer for Resistance Partners and a part-time lecturer at Staffordshire University.
The Staffordshire connection can be traced back to his own student days. Although Cooke initially studied product design technology, it didn't last long and he was soon attracted to the graphic design course that a friend was taking. "The stuff he was working on appealed to me a lot more, so I started doing local gig posters and band merch, before starting all over again at university, but this time studying graphic design," he smiles.
The move paid off, and he landed his first job in London - as a designer at Erasmus Partners, working on branding and packaging for clients such as Relentless Energy Drink, food packaging company Tetra Pak and sports drink Powerade - straight after graduating. "I gained a good amount of experience and learned a lot, then moved back home to the north and have been working out of Manchester ever since," he says.
Good friends and freelance
Through MayNinth - which he runs with his studio partner Alex Farrall, out of Manchester's famously creative Northern Quarter - Cooke works across graphic and web design, art direction, typography, image-making, photography and some moving image too. But he credits most of his major client work to-date to his freelance links to Resistance Partners.
"The former creative director from my days at Erasmus in London runs the virtual agency, and I do a lot of work with him for the likes of Pelé and Coca-Cola, along with a lot of fun music stuff," he explains.
Cooke picks out his work for Pelé Sports as a particular personal favourite: "We explored so many possible routes with the campaign direction," he recalls. The project involved art direction across online, print, apparel and experiential design - with a common theme of 'The Beautiful Revolution' running throughout.
When asked if a distinctive style helps to thread his work for different clients, agencies and disciplines together, Cooke remains pragmatic: "The outcome of work depends on so many factors, and I don't think a set style would do prospective clients any favours," he reasons. "Saying that, designers I work with do say they know my work when they see it. I do tend to gravitate towards certain typefaces or colours, in the early stages of answering a brief particularly."
Like many designers, there's a definite soft spot in Cooke's heart for traditional print: "It's my favourite medium to work within, and I think it'll always prevail," he declares. And there was no better place to prove his love of the medium than his own wedding stationery.
"It was all letterpressed and wax-sealed on GFSmith pistachio Colorplan," he explains. Several suppliers were used - covers were letterpressed in Wales, while inner pages were printed on an Indigo press in Manchester. Cooke toggled seamlessly between Illustrator and InDesign for vector artwork and layout respectively, using Acrobat Pro to slice up documents to send to different printers.
A joined-up approach
Much as print is Cooke's passion, it's the norm for projects to incorporate digital components as well - even his tactile wedding materials were complemented with a site. "Rarely does a job come through asking for just one or the other," he confirms. "In rare cases where a sole print or digital job comes through, it can be liberating not having to think of the other format - but anything that's intended solely for print purposes still needs to work online, and digital solutions need to take things into account, such as a transferable palette."
The practical realities of daily workflow challenges like this made Creative Cloud a logical investment for Cooke to make. "I downloaded it as soon as I could," he says. "I had already bought CS6 on a monthly membership, so it was a logical step for me," he continues.
Before switching to the new Creative Cloud subscription model, Cooke had always preferred to complete his design work using the latest version of CS as standard - but the creative admits that this often proved a challenge when moving between different agencies. "It bugged me when there was data loss and trouble with opening files from newer versions on previous versions of CS," he admits. "It really is better for the world 's workflow if everyone upgrades at the same time."
Besides the ability to tap into the latest version of the software on any machine, synced settings have also proved an invaluable CC feature for Cooke: "It's only a small thing, but as I 'm constantly working between two machines and a portable hard drive, it's ideal that my settings are the same on each one," he points out.
Unsurprisingly the trio of Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign figures prominently at the core of Cooke's workflow on any given project, but besides appeasing his pet hate by synchronising across machines, he's also taken advantage of the other tools available through the service: "Premiere Pro, After Effects and Dreamweaver have all improved my digital workflow," he reflects.
"I'm looking forward to being able to sync fonts and using Typekit some more - it seems like it could be a good feature," he adds. "I think that would really help to streamline my workflow even more."
This article was originally published in The Ultimate Guide To Adobe Creative Cloud.