Q&A Shaun Loftman

On 1 June 2024, the Now24 conference will take place in Paris. On that day, more than a dozen graphic design lecturers, art directors and type designers are expected. Join to attend talks by international speakers around graphic design, web design, motion design, publishing, visual identity, communication and type design. If not already done, register now to take advantage of the best rates.

It seemed interesting to us to make you discover the profiles of our guests. Discover Shaun Loftman’s interview.

Biography Shaun Loftman is a creative director and designer based in the London studio Landor. Having been heavily involved in design and branding for over 25 years, he led brand transformation programs for a variety of commercial, corporate, private, governemental, and sovereign entities.


Describe your day?

Shaun Loftman The best way to start any day is finding something wonderful to discover and photograph during the early morning commute to the studio. It could literally be anything, but usually it’s an imperfection or an anomaly in some piece of road or retail signage. When I’ve selected my chosen seat for the day, I take a mental picture of the tasks on the agenda for the day and think about where I can make the most impact. A day in the life of Shaun Loftman is an intoxicating merge of blurring the lines between being a Designer, an Art Director, a Dictator, Decision-maker, and Witch Doctor. The Designer in me still wants to craft a typographic logo to within an inch of its life. The Art Director in me loves doodling and devising a master plan on a sheet of paper or a note pad. The Dictator in me wants to lay down the law when I just know that my way is the best way. The Decision-maker usually surfaces later in the workday when shit is starting to get real, and we’ve run out of time for procrastination. The Witch Doctor is often summoned by clients who believe that no matter what I will magically conjure up the right answer for how their brand will win over their audiences. What a day! Daunting but always exciting.

Tell us about your workspace?

Shaun Loftman My preferred mode of working is a fluid hybrid model, typically three days in the office, two days at home. I maximize the time in the office for interaction, meetings, and creative brain-storm sessions with project team members. Days at home is often where I will focus on writing presentations and research. But on-the-go in cafes and in city promenades is often where I am my most free-thinking.

Have your work habits changed after the pandemic?

Shaun Loftman Absolutely. If there is one thing that lockdown has instilled in me, it is that if you want to go fast be alone, and if you want to go far be together.

Favorite kind of music? Are you one of those who prefer absolute silence?

Shaun Loftman I hardly ever work in complete silence. Even if I am writing for a serious topic, it’s good to have something on low in the background. Ultimately, there must be an energetic soundscape when I am working. My go-to musical accompaniment is progressive, and retro, electronic mix excursions (preferably non-vocal). I find that long uninterrupted mixes are brilliant for hyper-focussing. Various forms of jazz also pique my interest and help to keep me feeling celestially inspired.

“Collect as much visual, mental, emotional, soulful, and physical type and design reference as humanly possible. Continually process it, treasure it and store it. One day It will become invaluable.”
Shaun Loftman

Do you read news?

Shaun Loftman I travel quite extensively for work, so while on the move and while in hotel rooms I constantly listen to or stream BBC News. It keeps me updated on current affairs, and in-tune socially, economically, and culturally, on a global scale.

What do you do to evade yourself from work?

Shaun Loftman Football has been the sport that has most often pulled me from my work. Although, these days I expend more energy being emotionally invested rather than physically engaged.

What is the best way to work?

Shaun Loftman During the course of any assignment there are phases that best suit working solo vs close partnering vs wider team collaboration. First, there needs to be space and time for your individual creative journey, this should be as much physical as it is mental. Then there must be a period of coming together to harvest ideas through open and honest sharing. This is often where the real magic of creative innovation happens. Later, there will be more intimate and in-depth critique of the big idea. Followed by wider team reviews where the creative output is scrutinised, refined, and eventually polished.

Do you ever feel “too comfortable” in your work?

Shaun Loftman Comfort is the ultimate killer of brilliant creative and great design. Whenever, and wherever, possible I need to take myself out of my cosy comfort-zone. To do this I need to try something less ordinary, something that feels a little scary, something that will deliver the unfamiliar. This can manifest itself as a new way to articulate an idea, or a new design tool, or a different order to the process. When I embark down this path less trodden, I often find that I uncover a gem or a new spark of inspiration.

Does AI change the way you work?

Shaun Loftman AI is having an influence in the ways of working and in the way I am perceiving client briefs. There are opportunities for the creative use of data and intelligence learning to help bring different stylistic outcomes. In terms of efficiency and functionality, it can challenge or enhance some of the day-to-day operational duties such as reports, proposals, and notes – giving me back more time to focus on my creative point of view.

What do you think of the never-ending trend of geometric sans-serif typefaces?

Shaun Loftman Although, the (over)use of geometric sans-serif type has been driven by our surrender to the digital medium in which it appears, it seems a shame that so many talented type designers and beautiful font designs are not being widely used. In general, somewhere along the way we lost our desire to explore, experiment and test new theories. But watch this space, there is a revival on the horizon.  

Are you always on the lookout for new typefaces?

Shaun Loftman I am constantly on the look-out for type inspiration. Some of the best moments of my day is when someone in the team shares a funky new font or a drop-dead gorgeous piece of typography – it could be anything from a clever arrangement of letters to create remarkable wordplay, a lovely link in the ligatures, a story in letters, leading and spacing, or a new and innovative technique.

What do you think of this trend of free fonts?

Shaun Loftman It has made designers, the design industry, and clients, lazy and predictable. But what did we expect was going to happen when something free and easy is served up on a silver platter.

What is the most important for working in a team?

Shaun Loftman Making sure that everyone has a voice. By this I mean that each member has the space and freedom to express themselves – verbally, visually, and emotionally.

Are there different ways to approach design according to the cultural spheres?

Shaun Loftman Good design is one of the true universal languages. However, as I have found from years of experience, gaging the temperature of cultural context is imperative and can make or break a client relationship. At Landor, due to our well entrenched and deep understanding of all our local markets, we have become experts in navigating conversations and the process for design and branding projects. This will typically be evident in how we put together the members of our team (the casting), and the way in which we initiate a project (scene one). Throughout my years of working, this is one of the main aspects that has changed. With more understanding of the world, the more I understand the nuances of creating brands in different geographies, even if those brands all aspire to have a global presence. In each geography, what is often most important is authenticity and provenance to help build a brand story, a reason, or a relevance.  

Why Landor & Fitch switched back to just Landor?

Shaun Loftman Over the past five years, we have expanded our offer by significantly evolving our business. We now support world-class specialists in sonic, motion, retail, and workspace design, bringing us together as one Landor group with a shared culture and common goal. The consolidation of the name was to reflect our one, simple, and unified offer.  

Your Instagram page doesn’t show any work?

Shaun Loftman Work already consumes a large proportion of my day-to-day, so I have no reason for it to invade any more of my space. I dedicate my Instagram to life, love, and culture.

“In each geography, what is often most important is authenticity and provenance to help build a brand story, a reason, or a relevance.”
Shaun Loftman

Do you remember when you decided to pursue your career in design?

Shaun Loftman For as long as I can remember, I have had a love affair with the graphical aspect of art and design. So, I was fascinated with way design composition and the hierarchy in which visual elements were ordered and arranged for them to make sense. I think I have been in pursuit of the perfect composition ever since.  

When you started, who had the most impact on you?

Shaun Loftman Some of my biggest influences as a young designer were the leading design gurus in the UK at the time. Such as Mary Lewis (Lewis Moberly), John Blackburn, packaging designer (Blackburn’s), Howard Milton (Smith & Milton), Neville Brody (Typographer), Rodney Fitch, OBE (Fitch), and Walter Landor (Landor Associates), to name a few.  

Do you sketch–draw before moving on to the digital workflow?

Shaun Loftman There is nothing quite as creatively inspiring and satisfying as the feeling of pencil lead on a clean sheet of paper. Enough said.  

Do you have words of wisdom for young practitioners?

Shaun Loftman Collect as much visual, mental, emotional, soulful, and physical type and design reference as humanly possible. Continually process it, treasure it and store it. One day It will become invaluable.

What will be the message you would like to convey during your Now24 talk?

Shaun Loftman Quite simply, that type remains the greatest branding tool that we have at our disposal. We need to keep it sharpened and mustn’t waste it.

What other speaker wouldn’t you want to miss at Now24?

Shaun Loftman I’m intrigued to hear about the collaborative working methods of VikaVita (Victoria and Vitalina) the typography, calligraphy, and design duo.

Thank you very much, Shaun Loftman!

– Interview by Jean-Baptiste Pernette

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