In Conversation With… Joe Whelan

Words and photography by Emily Nardini


Joe Whelan, Swindon, Freelance Graphic Designer/Art Director. I wanted to personally interview Whelan as think he is extremely underrated from designing Big Zuu’s ‘Hold Dat’ EP artwork to T-Pain’s UK Tour Flyer. UV wanted to keep it real so had a local pub crawl and fusion food catch up with Whelan to pick his artist brain…

Whelan, what got you into graphic design?

So even when I was a kid, I’ve always been into art. I enjoyed how my parents took me to museums and stuff. I always drew. Even won a few competitions from like an early age. I ended up getting an A Level in Art, didn’t really enjoy it anymore but always been creative. So, I got into Graphic Design as a hobby and thought ‘this looks fun’ and it kind of snow-balled from there really


How long have you been doing it for?

I’ve been a designer for about 7 years now. About 5 years professionally and I’d say I’ve been living off graphic design for 3 years full time. So, not long. I’m a late bloomer

What’s been your fav work that you’ve done so far?

I try to find the fun in everything I do because essentially graphic design is problem solving and communication. I do a lot of marketing material for live events and cover art for music artists as well. I understand the importance of strong artwork and always make sure I surpass myself in every single thing that I do. I find it all fun, different aspects, different challenges, but yeah…I love it

Can you name a couple projects?

Invisible Man’s EP artwork, M Huncho’s O2 Flyer and Afro B’s Afrowave Digital Logo. There’s jobs that are big and some that I’m just happy with


Would you say your work is more from word of mouth than networking yourself?

I would definitely say word of mouth, definitely. But, I do network through social media to my advantage and I do get a lot of work through that, but 90% of time my commissions come from word of mouth. So, it goes to show if you do a good job and give people a good experience – their more likely to recommend you to someone else and it just builds from there

Where does your inspiration come from?

In this day and age, we have access to a lot of media. I pay attention to what’s going on around me, I keep my eye on trends and I don’t even look at a lot of other graphic design stuff. Inspiration is right there in front of us everyday now. As a Graphic Designer, I look at everything and think ‘this is a graphic design piece’ wherever I look, I can’t help it. I can’t help but to analyse it. Being around anything creative does inspire me. Being around people that are motivated to do what they are suppose to do brings out that side of me, a mix of paying attention to your surroundings and putting yourself around people who push yourself mentally as well – that’s important


Minus graphic design, what else do you enjoy?

Really fortunate position where essentially my hobby is my job, so I’m super blessed in that department. Apart from that – I’m really into music, discovering new artists and stuff like that. Art – I try to get down to any show or museum even if I’m out of town, I try to take something in. Clothes and shoes – I wouldn’t consider myself someone who’s hardcore into it but I do enjoy it, appreciate certain aspects and looking out for certain things

Would you define yourself as a feminist?

Definition of the word feminist, absolutely yes. I do believe women should be treated equally as men. Nobody, nobody…men, women, any race…nobody should be suppressed. We’re all the same at the end of the day


If you had any wise words for UV, what would they be?

The wise words…I was given this right in the beginning when I was starting out, never lose your confidence. Especially if you’re in the creative industry, that’s the most important thing. You’re gonna believe that you’re shit, but work your ass off and become the best whatever it is you want to be. That’s the thing, be confident and own your shit. Those are the main ingredients and the rest will come full circle.

Find Joe on Instagram: @whelaninho


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