Spotlight on: Made by Folk – prints and tees created by a community of designers
Made by Folk is an online platform that curates sells original prints, t-shirts and design inspiration, created by a community of designers from around the world.
Curated and founded by creative director Daniel Freytag, of Freytag Anderson. We caught up with Daniel to find out more about the online store.
Tell us more about Made by Folk, how did it get started?
Editions of 100 had been running well for a number of years as a side project to the design studio (Freytag Anderson). I’d always know that it had the potential to grow but I never had enough time to really make this happen. At the beginning of 2017, my wife Lorna and I decided to change this. We really wanted to push things and see where we could take the business.
This meant making some big changes. Firstly – Lorna joined me in the studio, she’s much more organised than me and an amazing illustrator. This has really helped us focus on creating new products and marketing.
Secondly – we rebranded. We felt Editions of 100 was too limiting, too exclusive and too ambiguous. What sets us apart from other design stores is that we’re essentially a community of designers, illustrators and artists. We wanted our new brand to communicate this whilst being more accessible and friendly. So we changed our name to Made by Folk – which seemed to fit pretty well. We then moved the site across to Shopify and being creatives, spent months tinkering with the design. We’re now finally ready (and really excited) to push the button.
How do you find designers to collaborate with? What can we expect?
That’s really the best and easiest bit. Part of my job as a creative director involves being aware of what’s going on in the industry. Whenever I see something I like, I make a note and check who’s behind the work. I then consider if they’re a good fit for Made by Folk. Most creatives don’t stop designing when they get home from work – there’s always a side project. So when I contact them, most are really keen to get involved.
The plan is to add collaborators bi-monthly. We’ve got some great names lined up including; Stephanie Specht, Berger & Föhr and Paul Johnson. With Tom Pigeon and Adrian Shaughnessy on board too, but yet to be confirmed. The best way to find out who’s next is by joining our newsletter.
How do you decide what makes it onto the shop?
That’s the hard part. There are so many great people out there. Part of the rebrand was about defining what Made by Folk is and understanding our audience. All the work needs to be original. The aesthetic tends to be minimal and simple, which is important as we want our products to feel connected. This is important when trying to appeal to the same audience with a large number of products.
Having said that, there’s no hard and fast rule. Sometimes you just see something and go, wow, and you get in touch with them.
What's surprised you about running an online shop?
Marketing – that’s very difficult and takes a huge amount of time. I think people are interested in our story and that of our contributors. As creatives we’re all in the same boat – sometimes we get it right, sometimes we don’t. I think this authenticity and passion for creating beautiful things is appealing.
What works best in getting your name out there?
We’ve tried quite a few methods – a mixture of paid advertising and organic. The best way by far is organic. It takes more time and is harder, but we get a much better response.
We don’t want to be a big design store where anyone can find their flavour of design. For us, it’s more about being seen in the right places with the right designs. To do this we need to give more than we take. We want to inspire as much as we sell. Our design journal and Instagram feed feature things we like, people we admire, even if we don’t sell their designs.
What's your best-selling product?
Kompakt-Kassette was our best product. Screen-printed in metallic silver on matt black paper the design featured a line illustration of a C60 cassette tape. Our alphabet series of kids prints are also doing really well. Both are very different but a good example of how a simple, bold design aesthetic is present in most of our products.
We are now planning a new Analogue Audio series of three prints (based on Kompakt-Kassette). These will feature the Tonbandgerät (Reel to Reel), Plattenspieler (Turntable) and Kompakt-Cassette C90).
Can you pick out five things from your shop and explain why you love each one?
Tic-Tac by Francois Mangeol. His simple handcrafted lines have a zen-like appeal.
A is for Rebel by Russell Weekes. This guy is a genius – his wordplay is witty and provocative.
PLAY T-shirt – this is one of mine. Simple and playful typography has always appealed to me.
Alphabet Apple by Lorna Freytag. Lorna and I love the work of Paul Rand – his simple shapes and bold text are the inspiration for our alphabet series of kids prints.
Tat-Man by Rich Fairhead. It takes time to explore this illustration (series of three). It doesn’t get tiring. We also love tats here at Made by Folk.