Gavin Strange on balancing the day job with passion projects

By day, Gavin Strange works as a director and designer for Aardman Animations, and by night he operates as JamFactory, an alias which sees him indulge in his love of side projects. Here he tells us how he does it

When designer and director Gavin Strange was 17, he decided university wasn’t for him. So after completing his BTEC in design, Strange boldly set off into the world of work landing a job as a junior designer at a small studio in his home city of Leicester. “If you look at a 17 year-old today, they’re just a kid. I remember feeling so thrilled and excited to have that sort of trust placed in me and to know people were expecting something of me,” Strange tells CR. “It sort of ignited something in me.” 

This was around the millennium and the internet was just about to be the next big thing, so when Strange’s boss asked him first if he’d heard of it and second if he wanted to learn web design, the creative was just as thrilled. “I’d previously made my own website in Microsoft Word, which was possible yet dreadful, but I was really interested in the technology,” he says. “I have a vivid memory of telling my mum that the guys at work had offered me a different position to design for the internet, and my mum sort of looking at me a little bit unsure saying: ‘Are you sure this internet thing is going to be around in the future?’ But I’d already said yes and was so excited.”

Top: BBC Two ident, Aardman Animations. Above: 20 Years of All images and videos: Gavin Strange

What followed was a long journey of Strange soaking up as much knowledge from his colleagues as possible. “I was taken under the wing of the guy who ran the new media department as it was called then, and when I say department, it was just him and me. He showed me the ropes and I was so fascinated by what was possible with the technology at the time,” he explains. “With this dual role of digital and graphic designer, he also encouraged me to have my own website. He saw it as a space for me to play and try out stuff and just get better.”