MEET THE OWNER OF GOO DESIGN

26 Nov 2020 | Student Life

Originally hailing from Mosborough, artist and illustrator Matt Cockayne now specialises in Sheffield inspired designs. For someone whose art teacher said he wasn’t good enough, he isn’t doing too badly! In this Q&A we asked Matt what the driving force was behind him starting Goo Design, and how he overcomes setbacks. Here’s what he had to say…

Tell us about your business.

Back in 2013 I was working as a graphic designer at a printers in Chesterfield. Having recently moved to the town, I rented a house with no art on the walls and decided to create a series of Henderson’s Relish artworks to add a pinch of Sheffield to my new house. I posted the artworks to Henderson’s and they in turn endorsed my art. Since that day I have been selling art under the Goo label.

I have created well over 200 artworks and have been a full-time independent artist for almost 8 years. I’m lucky to have gained a strong following of fans from all walks of life and generations. I now have 4 online shops selling Sheffield art, personalised football artworks and art for other cities around the world, including New York, Amsterdam and London. I’m very proud of the growth of my business and my ever growing art collection.

What was the driving force for you to start your business?

Working for myself is what drives me. I never got on well with being employed and not having the freedom to do what I want to do and work when I want to work. I work harder for myself now than I ever did in previous jobs. I’ve always been driven and a hardworking employee but there’s nothing more rewarding than working for yourself and achieving your own goals.

What are your business’ core values?

I believe strongly in making art affordable for everyone and accessible to the working class, not just collectors. I rarely sell my originals as I see them as an asset to my family, not a prize piece for an art collector. In addition to this, I produce my own art from start to finish. This helps to build a strong link with my customer base and that’s important to me. I don’t want to be part of an agency. I want to be a self-representing artist and do it my way.

How do you overcome setbacks? 

Don’t dwell on setbacks. The most important thing is to learn from your mistakes and move forward not backwards. Nobody is perfect, we all make mistakes. If you don’t learn from them, you’ll only waste time and time is precious.

If you had one piece of advice for students setting out to start their own business, what would it be?

I would say when starting out in business the most important thing is to have a strong brand that is unique to yourself. Being from a graphic design background myself, I have seen many businesses start up with poor branding and fail in the first year. Virtually all thriving businesses have a strong brand identity, so when starting your own business make this your main priority. If you can’t design, then employ a good graphic designer to do this for you.

Are there any other brands outside your sector that you are following at the moment?

I follow Thornbridge Brewery, both online and in person. I recently did a live drawing at their tap takeover at the Tate Modern in London. It was such an honour to be in such great company.

I mainly follow Sheffield based companies and believe in supporting the local economy by shopping locally. Recently I visited a bar in Kelham Island called the “Parrot Club ”, which I really liked. I decided to draw the bar and they asked if they could use the artwork for the label on their O’Hara’s Rum. I’m looking forward to seeing the new bottle launch!

What has been your biggest achievement so far?

I have achieved a lot in a short space of time, from drawing my Herd elephant “Hendophant” to painting a mural on my favourite pub the Fat Cat, but my biggest achievement has to be launching the UK’s first ever art banger rally. It raised over £100k for Sheffield’s youth homeless charity “Roundabout”. The rally went from Sheffield to Monte Carlo and raised awareness about the youth homelessness issue in Sheffield. The money has gone on to support the charity so that they can expand further into the South Yorkshire region. Seeing the charity thrive has been very humbling and something I am extremely proud of.

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