Freshly Laundered 038 / Matt Hamm


British designer and illustrator Matt Hamm hit a thread with his Deathstar Interior Lighting shirt design - it’s one of our top 20 all-time best sellers. Pretty impressive considering it’s been on the site less than nine months. We sat down for a quick interview on the man behind the shirt. Read on to hear about the risk he took in starting his own studio.

CB: Let’s start with a quick history - how did you become Creative Director and Co-Founder of Supereight?

MH: I was working at a web design agency in 2009 with a very talented web designer Pete Orme. Increasingly I found myself thinking that I could do most of the work here like new business, project management and accounting as well as designing and front-end development.

That week, I met up with my ex-boss from a larger design consultancy, that I had worked at previously, for a bit of extra freelance illustration work. We starting chatting about the idea of setting up my own company, using some office space there and becoming part of the consultancy’s network. He was also offering to become a silent investor and feed me work from the consultancy and the network. It all seemed like an offer to good to refuse.

He also suggested finding another designer or developer to work with and Pete Orme, my colleague at Kyan, came to mind immediately. I suggested the idea to Pete and he didn’t even need time to think about it. He said he was in and even had a feeling that was something I might suggest to him before all this happened.

We waited a few weeks and then dropped the bombshell that both of us were leaving Kyan. Kyan were gutted, yet really good about it all and completely understood.

As the time got closer to us starting our new company, now called Supereight, the whole deal with the design consultancy fell through and we were left to start this thing on our own. We were gutted, but we had already made the first leap. Looking back now after 7 years, it was the best thing that could have happened to us.


CB: Wow. What a rollercoaster of emotions that time must have been for you. How did you go about making sure the new studio was able to stay in business without the safety net of your investor?

MH: We only had one project lined up and we didn’t really pay ourselves much for the first couple of months. We didn’t have an office space initially so our overheads were pretty low. We managed to get our company noticed by our newly designed website being listed on lots of website galleries and got some interaction going on a few social media channels.

We were lucky to have a few bigger projects roll in after that from word of mouth. Once we had a financial buffer in place we were able to feel a bit more stable and continued getting work from recommendations.

It did feel risky at times, but that was part of the excitement of starting up a new business. We put in the hours and that time paid off.


CB: A little hard work (and luck!) can go a long ways sometimes. What’s the best thing about being your own boss?

MH: The best thing about being your own boss is the flexibility of working hours and how that fits around family life. You call the shots. If you want to go for a ride mid-morning because it’s a nice day, you can.


CB: You’re a pretty avid cyclist - what’s the connection between cycling and designing? Is there one?

MH: I don’t think there is a link between cycling and designing. Cycling, like running or any other sport, is just an activity to get you away from the screen and clears the mind.


CB: Ha - fair point! How else do you spend your free time?

MH: Most of my free time is spent with my family. I have a beautiful wife from Venezuela and two lovely kids, aged 7 and 4. I’ve been doing lots of DIY recently. We moved into a new house last year and I ripped up all the horrible dated carpet and laid solid oak flooring in every room. I really enjoyed doing it, it looks amazing and we saved a hell of a lot of money in the process.

CB: Sounds like quite the undertaking! Thanks for chatting with us, Matt.

To see more of Matt’s work, you can check out his personal site or follow him on twitter, instagram, and dribbble. Sign up for the next printing of Deathstar Interior Lighting here.