A creative collective on a mission to push boundaries, question forms, interrogate expectations, and meddle in creative mischief, design studio Guts & Glory is the brainchild of co-founders Faun Chapin and Meg Paradise – both of whom appreciate concrete strategy as much as the charmingly absurd. When not delving into branding and identity solutions for their clients, the two designers often flex their creative curiosities by developing their own products, including tongue-in-cheek perfumes and quirky prints. We’re extremely excited to be offering their work in their very own Threadless Artist Shop, and today bring you a little more insight behind the talented duo. Read on to learn more about Guts & Glory, and check out their Artist Shop here!
Hi, Faun & Meg! Welcome to Artist Shops. Why don’t you two tell us a little bit about yourselves?
Hello! And thank you so much for asking us to be part of such a fun Threadless project. Guts & Glory is a design studio that specializes in building well-crafted brands and products. In addition to being business partners, we are also in a relationship so we spend 24/7 together. We often have brainstorms in the middle of the night so we’re pretty much always working in one way or another.
How did the two of you end up partnering up, and what inspired you to begin your design firm, Guts & Glory?
We met while working in NYC a few years ago and decided to combine our super powers to start Guts & Glory after years of working for various agencies and design studios. We have very complimentary skill sets. Faun has a masters in design from Yale and has led creative teams both big and small for clients like Nestle, Coca-Cola, and P&G. She’s an extremely strategically minded creative and also has a serious penchant for absurdity in her work. Meg is a nimble maker so you will see less of a focus on a style or technique in Meg’s work and more of a focus on bringing to life big meaty ideas through obsessive craft.
Guts & Glory’s tagline is “Courage, Vigor, Character, Oomph”. How do these words and ideas factor into the work you create?
It’s a reminder to approach all our work and our client relationships by doing the best work possible, to not be afraid to take risks, and to treat each other and our clients with respect. We often remind ourselves at the end of the day that design should be fun and we’re very lucky to be able to spend our days doing something we love together.
Why do you believe design is the best vehicle to communicate a story, and how do you work to achieve this?
Storytelling is the strategic lens through which we approach
building brands. We begin each branding project with a strategic document we call a brand story. It’s a strategic, emotional narrative that defines the core idea of the brand and becomes the foundational guide for what we flesh out visually. Since we’re designers and we’re also writing the strategy, it becomes quite integrated into our workflow rather than being imposed on us from the top down by someone who isn’t also going to be creating the actual design assets.
In regards to storytelling, we actually use story structure to develop a brand’s passion, hero, obstacle, solution, and transformation. It sounds more complicated than it is, but it’s really just a tool to frame our thinking with our clients in a way that is both emotional and strategic without a ton of jargony BS.
In what ways does your involvement with Threadless Artist Shops differ from your typical work?
While our bread and butter is branding and identity systems, we also love developing our own products (our last personal product/project was called Helvetica The Perfume) so when Threadless approached us it seemed like a very natural fit. Our branding projects can last for months, so it’s rather liberating to work on projects that you can make and launch out into the world without a million strings attached. It’s like design sprinting versus running a design marathon.
The designs featured in your Artist Shop are quite frankly hysterical. Where do you look for inspiration for these awesomely quirky concepts?
Thank you, that’s very kind of you to say. We joke that our
relationship is a folie à deux because we’re extremely self-amused and are always coming up with crazy ideas and batting them back and forth to make each other laugh. We are total hoarders of paper and digital ephemera and we share a love of the visual language of the earlier half of the twentieth century. And if there’s anything funnier than one cat, it’s an entire mountain of cats!
What do you believe the future of design holds? What role will Guts & Glory have in it?
Wow that’s a deep question! We’ll have to ask our astrologist and get back to you on that. But as for our role in the future, we’d be happy if 100 years from now someone found some weird paper thing we made stuck inside a book and thought “I wonder who made this?” That’s all I think we can hope for.
If you guys are ever stuck in a rut, what’s your go-to move to rev up your creative juices?
We’re both hyper communicative and collaborative which is something we encourage throughout our studio and the people we work with. If we’re ever stuck we sit down with another designer and just start talking about the problem we’re trying to solve. Is it a strategic problem? A visual problem? An executional craft problem? Then we pretty much just keep talking and batting the problem back and forth until we find an answer or a new direction to head off in. We’re also tremendously inspired by the packaging and design of the past, particularly mid-century design by unknown designers.
When you look to the past, you see so much variation in how we used space, color, and form in design that you don’t see as much anymore because of our modern tools and a certain set of design standards and expectations we’ve created. There’s a certain naiveté in a lot of work from the past that is very refreshing. So our collective visual past is always a good reminder to step out of our comfort zone.
Quick draw question: Cat Mountain or Cat Mountain Redux?
Cat Mountain!! That pink cat is hilarious and terrifying.
Any other shout-outs?
When we were both starting out in our careers, we were very fortunate to encounter people that took a chance on us fresh out of school, giving us the opportunity to develop as creatives and setting us on the path that has led us to where we are today. Meg once had an unpaid internship where one of her senior co-workers paid her out of his own pocket for a night she spent cutting out magazine comps in the office by herself. These types of kindnesses are rare and so valuable to a person early in a career and we hope to pay that forward to the next generation of creatives. We would also like to give our designer, Tara, a shout-out for being the calm nougat-y center of our sometimes crazy storm. She can cut out a cat in 3 minutes flat.
And lastly, a shout-out to our office pig, Petunia. She’s really good at keeping laps warm while working.