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New Tenant – Jim Cork

Tue, 26/03/2024 - 14:57

We catch up with one of our newest members, Jim Cork of Explore Studio. Jim is a graphic designer, illustrator, brand & web designer and also works in audio production. After moving in a month ago he’s hit the ground running, bringing a splash brightness to his studio on the top floor and throwing himself into a variety of new projects.  

We asked Jim a few questions about his business and what he hopes to achieve in the future now that he’s settled into his new studio here at Banks Mill.  

What inspired you to start your business, was there anything that helped you to make the leap? 

I can trace my creative tendencies back to the mid 90s where two pivotal things came into my life: Adobe Photoshop (v3.0!) and my first guitar. In the years since, the combined creative pursuits of the graphic arts alongside a strong involvement in the DIY/punk/ indie music scene have been hugely influential to who I am and the work I produce. After working as a User Experience Designer for a social media start-up in the mid 2000s, a 3 year stint in a recording studio followed before somehow falling into a 15- year career as an IT & Infrastructure Engineer. Throughout all of this, I continued doing graphic design and audio work as a ‘hobby’. In early 2023 I realised that enough was enough and it was time for me to leave my IT job and really dedicate the time and energy in starting my creative practice full-time. Almost a year into my journey I can honestly say it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. As a designer, I’ve been lucky enough to create record covers, gig posters, illustrations, logos, branding and promotional materials for a wide range of businesses, bands, start-ups, venues, record labels and other artists. As a musician, I’ve released a number of records with the bands I’ve played in and have been been lucky enough to tour across the UK and Europe with my best friends – creating incredible bonds with likeminded creatives in those same spaces, many of whom have helped me massively on my journey into the scary world of going it alone. 

Tell us a bit about your work and techniques, how long does a piece takes to complete? 

I get to work on all manner of creative projects and this is one of things I love most about running a small business. One day I can be working on gig posters for a music venue, a record cover for a band, branding or web design for a tech company or visiting clients on-site to record a podcast or create video content. Some projects take as little as half a day, others can be ongoing for many days or weeks. For my graphic design work I primarily work in Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign & Lightroom. I bring in hand-finishing techniques and textures to make work that feels as if it has been created using traditional print techniques where the number of colours are limited by whatever printing technology was available at the time. There’s nothing I love more than good quality print, paper and finishes. I am super into the aesthetic of screen print, risograph, letterpress and block printing, and would like to incorporate more of these techniques into my work over time - something which a studio in Banks Mill is going to be perfect for having the space to experiment with. There’s an amazing print studio on the ground floor – Green Door Studios - who I’m looking forward to meeting and working with on helping me develop the use of some of these techniques when I have the time. This was one of the most exciting things for me about getting a studio in the building as they offer some excellent courses and have a fantastic selection of print equipment. 






What are you working on at the moment?  

I’m currently working on a website redesign for a large HR/ Payroll software company, new branding for a business coaching company and a new website for a well-known Shoegaze band - all whilst creating regular designs for Dubrek Studios, a music venue and recording studio who I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked with for a long time! I feel super lucky to be busy - being a solo creative can be an emotional rollercoaster at times! Over the next few weeks I’ll be out and about recording bands in interesting locations, producing a couple of podcasts and completing some promotional materials for an AI-focused engineering startup based in Sheffield whose branding and website I designed last year. 

How has being based at Banks Mill helped or changed your business? 

I’ve been at Banks Mill for nearly a month now and it’s been wonderful! Having all of my equipment, materials and reference books an in a dedicated space is a real game changer for me. Having a permanent setup with everything ready to go at a moment’s notice, free from distractions has been great, and I honestly feel so much more productive. Having a studio also gives me the space to be able to experiment with more processes and techniques and I’m looking forward to spending some time spreading out creating textures with inks, paints and incorporating other more ‘messy’ ways of working that were very difficult to do from home without taking over the dining room! Since moving in, I’ve met some of the tenants in the building and everyone I’ve come across so far has been super kind and supportive. I’m looking forward to getting to know more of the people in the building so if any of you are reading this feel free to pop up for a brew and a chat on the 4th floor. 

What are your plans for your business for the next 12 months? 

Over the coming year I’d like to continue to work on a wide range of different projects for all sorts of businesses and creatives, whilst also putting time aside for my own creative development and experimentation. I’d like spend time learning about traditional printing techniques and utilise these in my work wherever possible. I also plan to start working on a series of art prints in time for the Banks Mill open studios in November! 

Feel free to get in touch or pop-into the studio for a chat about any project that you’d like me to work on! My email address is [email protected] and you can follow me on Instagram at instagram.com/jimexplore Thanks for reading! 

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