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From the Newsdesk

Member Focus – Gawr-juhs

ACID member Derek Green founded his graphic design agency in 2011. His long history of design started when studying at the University of the Creative Arts in Epsom and Ravensbourne University London. Derek is also a Member of the International Society of Typographic Designers.

Derek is a passionate supporter of the LGBTQ+ community and produces greeting cards, T-shirts, prints, and gifts which enable you to give with pride! Derek’s belief was that there wasn’t much diversity in options for greeting card marketplace as a gay man, so with true creative ingenuity, he set about developing designs for a diverse audience.

The fantastic element of his designs is they are fully inclusive to all people in society. They are bright, beautiful, and accessible. Derek’s self-confessed humble part of social progression in UK history, is born out of being one of the first gay civil partnerships in Scotland. In 1985 he created the logo for Body Positive, the first UK self-help group for people with HIV. More recently, his designs are being sold in Queer Britain, the UK’s first gay museum.

Derek is a strong proponent of best practices in sustainable sourcing for materials and packaging. This includes recycling packaging where possible, using non-toxic printing inks, sourcing sustainably grown cotton, and keeping packaging to a minimum or using biodegradable options.

[Gawr-juhs] is a strong advocate for designers protecting their intellectual property (IP). Derek uses the ACID logo as a strong deterrent on his website and design work. He also lodges all designs on the ACID IP Databank for 3rd party dated evidence.

Read below to see what Derek thinks of design process, sustainability, and all things IP!

You were one of the first gay men in Scotland to become civil partners. That must have felt like a monumental societal and emotional achievement. Do you think that positive change has given you strength and inspiration in your design concepts?

Towards the end of 2005 more important things were happening in my life. Kenneth, my partner of twenty years, had terminal cancer and we were unsure how long he had to live. There were practical benefits in becoming civil partners, for example, I was suddenly able to pick up his chemotherapy medication. I didn’t fully appreciate the significance of becoming one of Scotland’s first civil partnerships until sometime later.

Ken always had great belief in me and my creativity. That has provided me with the strength to explore the artistic directions that I’ve embarked upon in more recent years.

Your designs are inspirational and form a very important part of societal progression. Is it important for you to be such a strong voice for the LGBTQ+ community and society in general?

I never consciously set out to be a strong voice within the LGBTQ+ community. After lecturing at the Edinburgh College of Art for several years, I felt it was time to rediscover my passion for graphic design.

In 2011 I founded [gawr-juhs] to help individuals, start-ups, and SMEs with their digital, print, and motion offerings. But I discovered that the graphics market is very crowded and attracting new clients can be difficult. I’d worked on a couple of artistic projects with LGBTQ+ organisations, which helped me formulate the idea of diversifying my business.

My initial thought for [gawr-juhs] art was fairly modest. I wanted to produce inclusive and representative designs. Queer graphics that were cool and stylish. Artwork that could be displayed by anyone, anywhere, without offending. This concept seems to have resonated with people within the LGBTQ+ community. As each month passes, I’m astonished at the increasing number of people who choose to purchase my art. This has given me the strength, belief, and enthusiasm to pursue this new found avenue of creativity further.

Sustainability in your business is clearly important to you. Please could you speak a little about how you incorporate it into your business model?

Both personally, and in business, I try to reuse, repurpose, and recycle wherever possible. I do all the usual things like select recycled papers for printing, specify garments made from sustainable cotton, and use biodegradable mailers to send products in. But often it’s the simpler things, like showing people on social media how and when I adapt existing packaging, that often invokes the biggest reactions. We can all learn from one another, and if that helps to cut down our waste and the use of natural resources, then that’s a big plus for me.

Do you have any advice for businesses on how they can be more sustainable in their approach to business?

I’d like to see everyone reign back on the number of products that we use that must be shipped halfway around the world. Do a little research and find suppliers in your own area to assist you. Yes, they may be a little bit more expensive, but I’ve found the level of service from local organisations to be superior. Plus, there’s something rather satisfying in being able to walk to your service provider when they want to show you something or discuss an item in detail with you.

Did you have any knowledge of intellectual property when you started your business?

In the late 80s, before moving to Scotland, I was part of a small digital design agency in London. The managing director went to seminars about the Copyright, Designs, and Patents Act, which was about to come into law, and relayed that information to us. This gave me a basic understanding of Intellectual property. Many years later, it was good to attend a free Creative Scotland seminar about Intellectual Property, and have that knowledge reconfirmed. It was at that event that I learned about the existence of Anti Copying in Design. So, a useful meeting for me, on two counts.

Which ACID Membership services have you used and how have you benefited from being a Member?

The service I use the most is the ACID IP Databank. Over the past two years, PDF documents detailing my greeting cards and t-shirt designs have been lodged on there before going into print or revealed on social media channels.

I incorporate the ACID member logo into my design work and ensure that it is clearly visible. In addition, knowing the ACID team is there, to support me, should I ever need them is reassuring.

Have you recently brought anything new to the marketplace that you would like to share?

I’m constantly creating new pieces for [gawr-juhs] art. During a recent conversation with the Visitor Experience & Events Manager from Queer Britain Museum in London, LGBTQ+ festive season cards were discussed. These weren’t on my ‘to-do’ list, but as I was asked so nicely, I’ve created two new designs that I feel are inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community. These were announced recently on my social media channels.

What is the best aspect of ACID Membership for your business?

An easy answer. Protection. As I mentioned earlier, simply by making others aware that I’m a Member of ACID gives me confidence that my design work is less likely to be copied. But if it is, then I have experts that I can call upon in order to help me resolve the situation.

What advice would you offer to a new designer?

Find a unique offering that will stand out in a highly competitive marketplace. In addition, be cautious about those who like your idea and suddenly want to get close to you professionally. Experience has taught me that these people are the ones who won’t hesitate to copy your ideas and plagiarise your work, often using ‘friendship’ as an excuse for their actions.

ACID values the support of its members to enable it to campaign for design law reform. Do you have any messages for Government/Policy Makers on IP issues? Do you think that copying of designs is deliberate and blatant?

Personally, I’m more interested in what the Scottish Government says and does, rather than the current UK one. My message to the Scottish Government is to engage more with professional bodies, like ACID. I’d like to see their strategic plan for the creative industries in Scotland expanded so that it covers specifics like intellectual property. That way all creatives, who live and work in Scotland, will have a much better understanding of the mechanics, if and when, we become an independent country.

Computers and the internet have provided us with many positives. However, they’ve also given us just as many negatives. Work produced by others is more accessible, and many of us proactively share our ideas online. The net result of this is that designs can be stolen and copied in a heartbeat. This is why being a member of Anti Copying in Design is so important to me. And I would recommend to anyone who wants to protect the creative IP of their work to seriously consider becoming a member of ACID too.


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