Now, seven years after graduating from Central Saint Martins, Johnston has set up his own one-man studio, Accept & Proceed, keeping some key clients he established relationships with while at Red. One of those clients is Brighton club Audio, for whom he has provided all the graphic elements from logo through to poster and flyer design since it opened in 2004. Johnston is expanding his client base, recently adding new digital culture festival, Loop. He is also about to head across the pond to New York to meet with one of the coolest trainer brands on the planet, Run Athletics. “It’s a sneaker-heads’ brand that’s co-owned by Reverend Run (of Run-DMC fame),” he explains. “I’m being brought on board to help with branding and marketing.”
Cool new clients, meetings in New York… Johnston makes setting up a studio seem like a walk in the park. “I’m aware that I’ve still got some learning to do,” he readily admits, “but the time just felt right,” he says of his decision to go it alone.
He doesn’t plan to work alone, however. “I love to collaborate,” he reveals. And one particular section of Accept & Proceed’s website, titled “A & P by”, is testament to that. Johnston has been approaching illustrators, designers and image makers that he admires and reveres and asking them to illustrate the letters “A & P”. The list of contributors is impressive, including David Shrigley, Mr Bingo, Build, A Forest, to name a few.
“This project is putting me in contact with some of the most talented people on the planet,” enthuses Johnston, “many of whom I would like to work with in the future. I really admire the way companies such as Big Active or This is Real Art have taken a fresh approach to the way a design company can function.”
Johnston reveals he may even take some pointers from these businesses as Accept & Proceed develops over the next few years. “But I’m in no rush,” he adds. “The journey, to me, is more important than the destination.”
See more A & P illustrations and Johnston’s portfolio at his new website: acceptandproceed.com