Monday, May 17, 2010

Exclusive Interview: Lee Binding

Article author: Alwyn Ash

"I think I'm most proud of being where I am and doing what I do for a living. Yeah, I know it's trite, but I am. So ner. Ha!"

Alwyn Ash: Hi Lee, can you tell us a little about yourself?

Lee Binding: Hello! I'm a 34-year-old graphic designer who works across the Doctor Who brand. I like nights in, long walks in the country and good senses of humour. Wait, this is a dating site, right? No?

How did your Tea Lady website come about?

Through necessity, really. I'm fortunate in that I'm often recommended for jobs by word of mouth, but what will often happen is that the client phone you up and say 'Hey, so-and-so says you're great. Is there anywhere where I can look at your work?' So its good to have a web presence. It needs updating actually; we've been working on 11th Doctor stuff for the past six months, and finally I can start revealing it. I'm working on stuff towards the end of the year already; it can be weird working on Christmas and we haven't had the summer yet...

Your client list is very impressive - BBC Worldwide, 2|Entertain, Random House, and Big Finish just to name a few. And after looking at the work on your website, I can see why you're so popular.

Thank you. They're all lovely people you get to work with, and I have a great time doing it.

Can you tell us a little about the process of design, is there a special approach to bringing out the best imagery for the right piece of work?

Oh yes, there's several ways you can attack it. If you get a good explanation from the client of what they want, you can try your best to bring to life what they expect. We're fortunate on Doctor Who in that they take great photographs of more or less everything. And I mean everything - I did some archiving over Christmas and backed up all the stuff for The Next Doctor - including over 40 images of the orphan children specially shot for the show. I mean, we're only ever likely to use one or two, but it's nice to think that I have 40 images of something that was only in the episode for about, what, two mins tops? Madness! So we're always brilliantly served by Production on the images we have, and they don't often need any touching-up at all.

There must be times when something doesn't go just quite to plan...?

Hahaha. Oh more times than you can imagine. Sometimes it's just so easy and falls into place; sometimes it can drag on for weeks. You just have to roll with it.

What keeps you more focused: professionalism or humour?

Fun, actually! As long as its fun, then I'm happy. And how much fun is it to be working on Doctor Who every day?

I take it you're a huge Doctor Who fan then (or have I just embarrassed myself here)?

Oh no. I love it! It's the best show on television. Fact.

Of course, Doctor Who is only one of the many programmes/dramas you design for. Is there anything that, given the opportunity, you would really like to sink your teeth into?

I still want to do a big film poster. I've done a couple of indie films and foreign films, and helped out on some big titles. But to have something you designed on a billboard or Tube poster - how cool would that be?!

In addition to design and photography, do you have any other interests?

I like to do a bit of writing too, when I get the time. I do work quite a lot, and for long hours - but its enjoyable coming up with something that you know will work and look great on a cover or t-shirt or something that you don't really mind the time that goes into it. I still can't get my head around that sometimes my work turns up on lunchboxes or towels or alarm clocks or Easter eggs. That's still boggling seeing something on a shelf in a shop that was on your screen about a month ago.

What are you most proud of so far in your career?

I think I'm most proud of being where I am and doing what I do for a living. Yeah, I know it's trite, but I am. So ner. Ha!

Do you have any upcoming projects?

Loads! Unfortunately, you can never speak about them in anything but general terms! The Who book covers will carry on, there's more updates on the Retro Who product lines. There's posters coming out, jigsaws - all the usual paraphernalia!

What advice would you give to anyone who might like to take up design, photography, or both as a career?

I'd give the advice I'd give to anyone trying to get anywhere: keep practising, and try and surround yourself with people who are like-minded and encouraging.

To finish off with, is there anything that you would like to add? A favourite quote perhaps, or just a note to your fans?

I'm mostly amused with the idea that I might have fans! I'm sure I don't, you know..! But if there is anyone out there who ever looked at something I did and thought it was a lovely design, then thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Thanks to Lee - Twitter
Lee Binding interview copyright © Alwyn Ash 2010