Thursday, May 07, 2009

Jim Coudal Interview (transcript)

Jim Coudal (JC) in his interview with Ryan Carson (RC) offers valuable insights especially on the importance of being able to write well. Since it's a very short interview, I made an attempt to transcribe it, but couldn't make out all of it. Here it is anyway with the gaps marked with two red dashes '--'; words that I am not too sure about are indicated with a question mark (?). You are welcome to use this on your site/blog. If you can help me fill in the gaps that would be great.

RC: We are here with Jim Coudal from and nice to have you here Sir

JC: Thank you, how are you (? )

RC: So why don't you tell me just a little bit about what's inspiring you right now

JC: It's sort of interesting. I have three children and the youngest of them is Spencer, he is seven and he has a kind of voracious appetite for re-living my childhood with star wars and everything else. So I don't know, maybe it's just the nature of the beast . But I am sort of inspired by childish things lately -- Spencer and my two daughters . Other than that I have been sort of wrapped up in vintage American agricultural design artifacts from the thirties and forties.

RC: How did you come across that ?

JC: Well we've this project called field notes, we sell these note books called field notes which is sort of based on that and one thing led to another and I started getting really into these(?) odd -- seed companies.


RC: Are you obsessed?

JC: I am constantly obsessed -- you know that about me (?). But this too shall pass, it will be something else. Yeah then you know we are doing the layer of tennis thing at Coudal, stuff that artists are coming up within fifteen minutes blasts is beyond me. I try to keep ...Yeah I know what's inspired. On Tuesday night we hosted Gary Hustwit's Objectified. Gary made Helvetica.

RC: Oh, wow !

JC: This new movie is about industrial design.

JC: He's on a kind of world rock and roll tour , London is coming up soon ...

RC: How wicked !

JC: In Portland -- and then I don't don't know and then maybe ... I don't know where he is playing. It is playing here in London and it's a great movie - Johnnie Ive from Apple, Dieter Rams from Braun really great movie really inspiring. These guys working inside of the industrial-manufacturing profit process and are total artists dedicated to details. Really well received.

RC: That was Objectified ?

JC: Objectified, that's my latest --


RC: How do you make time for creativity ? I mean you are a father, you have a successful business When does that happen ?

JC: For me I have sort of farmer's hours.I don't exactly know why. I get up early and once I get up I can't go back to bed. So generally I go to work in very early. I am there a couple of hours, before anybody else gets there. I find that couple of hours when I just spend that time working on something designy or creative writing, I am happy. So I might be setting a headline, I might be doing the layout for our website, I might be writing an essay - whatever it is, it's quiet, phone is not ringing, I am not answering email and then the rest of the day is pretty much acting and reacting. You know how it is, you know that I have things to do but there are things that I don't know I have to do (?) So I try to do that and then building light goes out.

RC: Cool. So if you can give a sort of a tip or an idea to a -- emerging (?) web designers either for their career, or probably for their career what would you say that is important ?


JC: I will give a tip for web designers in general is that (?), you know we are in an era where everybody is talking about sustainability and using only what we need to use. So leave a little white space . Don't use all the -- For a career tip I will just say this. When we are interviewing two designers for two creative positions and they are equally talented in every way and they will cost us equally as much and they are both friendly and happy and smart. But one of them can write and the other one can't, I will always hire her.

RC: -- (Got it ?)

RC: Good writing is a sign of an organized mind. As digital as we become writing is even more key than ever whether it's email, for writing copy for the web we find that we have done much better with even purely visual designers who have some writing skills. And I think it is under appreciated by the visual ...

RC: Agreed ...

JC: There's a day in the UK and in the USA as well where a creative ad agency was an art director and a copy writer together. Those days are gone

RC: Yes --


RC: -- you've to have the personality (?)

JC: I think you have to have the skills -- But I think you have to have both of those skills .
Maybe There's a third skill too and that's being able to write a little bit of code.

RC: Yeah.

JC: It's a sort of interesting time.

RC: So our designer Mike he seems to be an -- wrote all the lyrics - and I find that he is very
good at copy -- because he basically can, he used to write lyrics - there's something about
that ...

JC: Right

RC: Right

JC: I could see that, especially lyrics is generally trying to be as succinct as possible, succinct
and dramatic as possible . So it's probably good direction from -- copy -- succinct and
dramatic -- to get to the point -- keep people interested --

RC: Thanks for talking, see you soon.

JC: Sure.