February 25, 2012

Derek Welch

Keeps taking risks until it hurts or works.

Author: Stanley Hainsworth

Topics: Branding Identity, Profiles, Studio Secrets

Derek Welch and Jason Bacon started UNKL in 2004 as a way to focus their creative energy on non-client based projects. Besides selling vinyl toys, their toys have been animated as charac-ters on network television. They continue to make characters they love.

Oftentimes, the best stuff happens for me because there are no real restrictions or real understanding of what the limitations are.

UNKL came out of a need from within our design firm, Big-Giant, to explore design solutions without real consequences. We were looking for something that wasn't a client situation where we're dealing with the weight of someone else's business. We didn't initially intend for UNKL to be a business as much as a creative outlet for ourselves and our employees, but in the end, each business fed the other creatively. It came around full circle for us, to be able to consider how the brand of UNKL can exist and how the products can exist with-in that brand.

Opportunities arise for many different projects that are not really based on formal training or experience but on a willingness to give it a shot. Oftentimes, the best stuff happens for me because there are no real restrictions or a real understanding of what the limitations are. You just go for it and let it happen. It's less about thinking what the rules are and what the parameters are and more about just creating.

With UNKL, we originally wanted to design spaces and furniture, but it became too costly and time-consuming to pull off. Then Jason and I started developing stories with characters, and we found that they are much easier to achieve—especially on the manufacturing end. Toys are practically free compared to constructing a building.

A lot of UNKL exposure has brought work to Big-Giant. For example, a fan of UNKL called and wanted a robot created for the identity of his company. He want-ed something original. That was an opportunity for us to talk about Big-Giant and all the design and branding work we do here. This was great because this guy was already into our personal style and we could leverage that to create his identity. That allowed us a certain amount of creative freedom that we might not typically have.

UNKL is about doing things we have always wanted to do. The only limitations have been time and money. Cre­atives always have a lot of ideas kicking around in their sketchbooks, but not the money or time to execute them. UNKL is the green light to do whatever we want.

Source: Idea-ology