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D&AD Meets x Jamie Everall, the former Shifter running a brutalist candle brand

Jamie Everall tells D&AD about his journey from musician to brand director of his own creative business Brutwax

Image by James Hough

D&AD Meets is a regular series where we elevate the work of need-to-know creatives who have been through D&AD programmes Shift and New Blood. Each interview features new talent deserving of a spotlight, the ones to watch, and the ones to work with. Here, we speak to Jamie Everall who graduated from Shift in 2020 after spending eight years as a musician. He has since worked at Design Bridge and Phantom and is now Brand Director and Owner of a Brutalist candle company Brutwax, which is sold in the Barbican in London. 

Tell us about yourself, what’s your background and what are you currently doing?

I’m Jamie Everall, a Freelance Designer from West London and Product Designer / Owner of Brutwax, where I create Brutalist candles and other homeware products.

What was your route into the industry?

I’m a self-taught designer. I left school and went straight into work with no qualifications. For around eight years I was involved in music, producing and performing live. When that became unsustainable, I was faced with the reality of getting a “real job”.

Graphic Design was something that I’d been doing throughout music, so I started cold calling local businesses and offered to sort them out logos or menu designs for a few hundred quid. It wasn’t much, but it was an important time for my growth — It showed me I could survive by designing.

I spent roughly a year and a half doing this while working in a commercial printers, where I picked up experience in digital printing and finishing processes before getting my first job in design.

What would you say was your biggest break?

My first Junior Designer job in 2019. My role at the printers became more administrative as I progressed through the business and I needed to get out of it. I had no portfolio and no real evidence of my design capability — but there was nothing to lose by applying and I knew if I got an interview, I could probably blag it.

I got an interview at an agency and was only asked to present myself. The second stage of the interview process was a mock brief set by the agency to see an example of my level of work and gauge if I was a good fit stylistically. I got the call a week later to start. 

Their approach of meeting the person before seeing any work was huge for me at the time.

Image by George Higham

Has anyone helped you on your career journey so far, if so who?

Of course — anyone who claims they got anywhere without help is full of shit. I’ve grafted and taken every opportunity that has come to me, but absolutely leant on people around me for support; friends, family and mentors.

You were part of D&AD’s Shift Program, can you tell us a bit about your experience?

Shift was a great opportunity to get myself seen by some of London’s biggest design agencies. There was a point back when I was making cheap logos and forcing my way into print jobs that I thought I’d never be hired as a Graphic Designer. So many agencies want you to meet a certain criteria — so finding a program that supported creatives without a degree was rare.

When you’re on Shift, you’re essentially downloading years of experience in four months. In addition to night sessions, I was also working a full time job, so by the end of it I was completely burnt out — but I met a lot of talented people on that program and I gained an incredible mentor and friend Chloe Templeman, who two years on still supports me massively.

You have a handcrafted candle company. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

I started Brutwax at the end of 2020 after a year of working from home. We’d been in and out of lockdowns — boxed away from anything physical; I wanted to experiment with products. I’m really into Brutalist architecture and have always had a very minimalist approach to design, so that route made sense.

Candles were an accessible way into product design for me. I knew the combination of materials would highlight the characteristics of the architectural style. I spent some time learning 3D design, just enough to be able to create the two-part model and get it printed to have the moulds made. Over the last year and a half I’ve worked on refining the candles and getting the mixes right. It's a process I’ve enjoyed.

What are the challenges of running your own business and how have you overcome them?

Running a business is tough, even at a small scale. I don't have a business background — I just wanted to make something that I wanted to see. There's no studio, I’m making them in my kitchen. One challenge I’ve found with handcrafted products is around packaging. Creating functional and exciting bespoke packaging on a small scale is hard — I’ve had to lean on my background in print design and be very selective with materials.

Image by George Higham

Can you tell us a bit about the projects you're working on?

Right now I’m mostly booked on freelance work, brand identity and packaging designs for clients, including a gin brand from East London. There’s also some new designs for Brutwax I’m working on, with a new candle coming later in the year, along with some other products for the brand.

Who are some creatives who have inspired you, or who you think are doing interesting work?

Axel Thechi (@axelthechi_). Axel is across collaborations and footwear at A-COLD-WALL and also runs his own company AT_D®. I saw some of his work earlier this year, notably the prototype of his concrete chair. He has a real understanding of functionality and materials, influenced by Brutalism and is making some beautiful work. 

Jonny Wilson (@jonnywilson) and Cole Buxton (@colekbuxton). Jonny and Cole are co-owners of luxury sportswear brand Cole Buxton. They are both the living embodiment of hard graft and were partly responsible for my drive in starting my own business. I’ve followed the brand for a number of years now and their work ethic is very motivating.

Graham Sayle (@graham_sayle). Graham is an artist who makes incredible concrete furniture. I reached out to him early into starting Brutwax and he shared a lot of knowledge with me on how to work with concrete and refine my mixes. Not everyone would do that.

What advice do you have for someone trying to break into the creative industry?

Don’t sacrifice yourself to get into any agency. Focus on your thing and they will come to you — if that's what you want. I spent ages trying to find the formula to get hired and in the end I got hired for being me. Of course you need to have some employable skills, but if you're looking to break into the creative industry then you likely have those.

Ultimately it depends on what you want. I worked across multiple agencies in just under three years before going freelance. Employment will give you financial stability and the opportunity to learn from talented people that will help build your skills — but you can survive on your own if you're passionate and resilient. Believe in yourself.

Get in touch with Jamie Everall: 

@jamieeverall @brutwax 

Meet more rising creative talent including photographers, motion designers, illustrators and visual artists.

D&AD Shift with Google in London is a free, industry-led night school programme for new creatives. If you are over 18 and don't have a degree-level qualification, Shift is for you.

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