Do you remember the exact moment you discovered graphic design? Darren Wall does.
A self-described obsessive media consumer, as a kid Wall pored over music, books, and video games—and then one day he encountered the futuristic racing game Wipeout on the first generation PlayStation. It was unlike anything he had ever seen. The game and its ecosystem were brilliantly put together, from the branding to the UI to the opening sequence, techno soundtrack, and innovative marketing campaign by Designers Republic. “It blew me away,” Wall recalls. “And then I kind of wanted to piece back together what just happened.” In doing so, he discovered design—and its role in world-building.
While stories abound about parents dissuading their kids from art or design school, Wall’s were none of the sort. They ran pubs and restaurants, and moved around the U.K. with their son every few years. They had one wish—that he not follow in their footsteps of endless work and elusive sleep, and that he instead do what makes him happy. So he studied design at Bath Spa University, where he won an exhibition branding competition in his third year. But instead of the usual note of congratulations, his work drew the attention of Simon & Schuster, who wanted to use Wall’s image on a book cover (Flight by Victoria Glendinning). They then offered him the chance to spend a week at the company, and Wall headed off to London, eventually securing a full-time job with the publisher that perfectly suited him.
“When you’re a book cover designer, more often than not you are given full creative control of that project because it’s just a book cover. You’re not working on rebranding a takeaway company or the next Uber; you’re not working with a team. And as this kind of obsessive only child, it was great. I could just put on my headphones and for two days bash out lots of different designs around a book. And I was like, ‘This is the best job in the world.’”