For those of you who don't know who are you and what is Special Edition Co. ?
We are two designers and makers (Sam Small @ssma11z & Trent Roach @feelinggreattonight) based in Kansas city, Missouri. Our mission is to collaborate on innovative and experimental projects with creative thinkers internationally. We enjoy interacting with artists, designers and other likeminded people; developing and cultivating unique relationships, understanding their background and means of making and creating really fun collaborative work. The overlap of different industries and mediums, paired with different cultures and backgrounds results in exciting outcomes. Carrying this multidisciplinary, inventive mindset into our client projects, we strive to create unique and exciting work that is truly impactful and special.
You’re a design collective, who else is involved?
We use the term collective to reference the collaborative mindset we focus on heavily. We have a couple of people who help us directly. Sam’s girlfriend Alexis (@meonvacation) helps with idea generation and offers advice in marketing strategies. Our longtime friend Josh (yeshua_7s) is an emerging artist and business consultant. We’ve worked quite a bit with artists and designers around the world on smaller collaborations, like simple image generation or case studies. At a little bit larger scale, we’ve collaborated on zines, spatial design for events, posters, ceramics and visual campaigns. We have various other projects in the works with some super talented people. Our goal in time is to build a more concrete network of sorts, which would have “branches” of Special Edition Co internationally, participating in exciting projects at a much larger scale.
How has working together helped your work? Are there any major difference between working as a collective and working as an individual?
We both went to school for graphic design at the Kansas City Art Institute, so we’ve been working on projects and critiquing each other for quite a while already. We sort of have this mutual respect for each others opinions and it feels natural working together. This ability to jive well and understand each others goals on each project often leads to a successful outcome. Even on personal projects, we often bounce ideas off of one another. We both have design day jobs and will discuss that work as well. It always helps to have another opinion, especially when a lot of our interests align. We have figured out a pretty streamlined system of collaborating. If we aren’t working at the same table, we are constantly passing files back and forth on cloud services like Dropbox, splitting tasks, passing daily (or bi-daily) images studies back and forth.
Apart from other art and design, what directly inspires your work and your design style?
We are inspired by a lot of different things. – Music, nature, textured objects or materials, geology, molecules, cells and other microscopic shapes. We go to stores like home depot and just check out different materials. One time we were driving and saw these old dudes in lawn chairs selling construction supplies and materials. We left with all of these different textured tarps, tile floor materials and all kinds of rad stuff to utilize in compositions. Video and motion of all types are super inspiring. We often find even a single sequence of motion in a film exciting. Colors and gradients of all types find their way into our work. We use Adobe’s Kuler app to capture colors in the world that will inspire palettes in our work. There are so many things in random and unexpected settings that inspire us.
What’s the one thing that has helped you get to where you are today?
Just a super positive, aggressive attitude toward creating. There are a lot of times when we try a new method of making that we think is perfect for a particular project. It might not work out the way we expect, but we often find a new way of doing something that we otherwise would have overlooked. Creative “failures” are super important in our creative process and usually turn our extremely positive in the end. We think of ourselves as problem solvers. Design in general requires constant iteration to in the end come up with a unique, functional solution.
What inspires you to keep doing what you’re doing?
We’re inspired by constantly striving to create new and exciting work. Having fun with experimentation and collaborating with awesome likeminded people is really what keeps us motivated. We also love the creative process from start to finish. It’s inspiring to see a project go from nothing to something impactful and real.
What advice would you give to your 15 year old self if you could travel back in time?
You don’t have everything figured out and you probably never will, but that’s okay. Stop worrying about what the future holds and try to focus on the present. Prepare for the future as much as you can and don’t underestimate the possibilities. We’re in our mid 20’s and nothing’s as we expected back then. We’re STILL figuring things out and learning something new every day.
If you weren’t doing what you’re doing now – what else would you like to be doing?
Well we both have design day jobs in different industries (architecture & political campaigns/non for profits), so it’s nice getting a taste of other industries on a daily basis. If we were doing something else, it would probably involve quite a bit of traveling and seeing the world. Some aspect of creativity would definitely still be involved. We are greatly influenced by art and music, so it isn't hard to imagine working in those facets.
No matter how small or insignificant, what is one thing you’ve done this week that has made you happy?
We live in Kansas City and the Royals just won the world series. They haven’t won since 1985, so the whole city of KC is pretty damn happy about that. :)
What are your plans for the next few years for yourself, and for Special Edition Co?
Hard to say, but hopefully we will be quite a bit more developed in the next few years. We’re working on launching our full website which will include our work and an online shop with prints, apparel, objects, zines and more. We have a pretty full schedule of collaborations lined up with some extremely talented people, so stay tuned for that! As we mentioned earlier, we plan to develop a more concrete international collective/network of creatives, but that’s all a future goal. We have so many ideas and we are really just getting started!