Coming up with names for projects is hard as balls. There’s so much pressure to pick something that will define what you do, make it fit tonally and be something you can define. You could always cheat a little and make a word up or, I dunno, merge two seemingly random words together to create something weird (ahem).
You have to admire it, then, when a business picks a single, pre-existing word with strong semiotics associated with it, and go on to completely own it. When people say “apple” to me now, I think of my phone, but that might actually say more about my terrible diet than anything else.
One new venture that has gone down the scarier (read: braver) route is Purple, the Leeds-based print collective set up by a group of graphic design graduates. We spoke to the guys at Purple about their name, how they operate and what their plans are for the future.
1. How would you describe what Purple do?
Jacob:We specialise in exclusive, strictly limited edition, hand-pulled screen prints and clothing.
Josh: Everything we do is one hundred percent managed by us, so we do all of our design, printing, advertising and stitching in house. We even screen print our own labels, signs and business cards.
Joe: We’ve also been doing a lot of print fairs recently with a really positive reception. It’s been a bit of a learning curve but things are starting to take off!
2. What’s behind the name?
Joe: We get asked this quite a lot! We wanted to base the name around an element of the screen printing process.
Jacob: It’s a reference to purple glow that the ultraviolet bulbs gives off when burning a screen on our exposure unit.
Josh: I also think the word purple sounds pretty cool, and Ultraviolet Collective doesn’t quite have the same ring to it!
Joe: We had a few names that we were toying with but we liked how Purple would be challenging from a brand perspective. It’s allowed us to explore it in different ways, including juxtaposing some of our designs, sometimes leaving the colour out altogether.
3. When did you set yourselves up?
Josh: The three of us all met on the graphic design course at the University of Leeds and we established Purple in the summer of 2013, shortly after graduating.
Joe: Our first proper introduction to screen printing came in our final year when we decided to explore the process for a project, we produced a small run of prints for the final piece and ever since then we have become passionate about the screen printing process.
Jacob: Purple became an output for us to explore more traditional methods of graphic design that we didn’t really touch on in our course.
4. How many people run Purple?
Joe: There are just the three of us, Josh, Jacob and myself.
Jacob: Perhaps we should have called ourselves the Three Js instead?!
5. Do you have your own equipment, or do you use a studio?
Josh: We first started off with a pretty ghetto setup in the attic of my house. We built everything ourselves, including our own exposure unit which we’re quite proud of and still using today.
Joe: We’ve now migrated to a studio in the centre of Leeds where I’m employed as a commercial screen printer. My studio manager is pretty cool so we get to use the premises at weekends and evenings.
Jacob: No need to carry A2 screens full of paint up sketchy ladders anymore!
6. You’ve spoken previously about collaborations with other brands; what have you worked on so far?
Joe: Initially we only did prints, these were collaborations with artists and designers that we were friends with, including James Woods, Will Tempest and Ana Busuioc.
Josh: Since branching out into clothing we have done a collaboration with the record label Materials, which is run by electronic music duo Mak & Pasteman.
Jacob: We’ve also recently had our products stocked by an independent clothing store in Nottingham, called Prisma. This is the first permanent retail space where we’ve had our clothes and prints for sale, so hopefully this will lead to further opportunities in the future.
7. Do you have any exciting collaborations coming up?
Jacob: Since all three of us are pretty passionate about music and collecting vinyl, we’re keen to keep the brand tied closely with the sounds we enjoy.
Josh: In the new year we are launching the ‘Purple Playlist’, which will be a regular mix series. We’ll be inviting a host of different artists to put together some of their favorite selections.
Joe: In addition to this we’ve been speaking to a few different illustrators, one based in New York and a few from Manchester and Leeds. We’re planning to get some original designs produced early next year.
8. Was there ever a decision between basing yourselves in London and staying up north? What advice would you give to other graduates facing the same decision?
Jacob: There are always great creative opportunities in London, however the North has some amazing agencies between Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield. My advice is to test the waters, maybe intern for a few months in the city you’re interested in working in before taking the leap.
Josh: We know people who have gone to London and hated it, moving back after a few months, however we also know people who haven’t left since they’ve lived there!
Joe: We were all lucky enough to get offered creative jobs straight out of university, so it made sense to stay up north.
9. How can people get involved with Purple?