BAM! creative studio: ‘we are in love with vibrant and super colourful styles’

In this interview, co-founders of BAM! creative studio, Tea Shockats and Jimbo Bernaus, chat to us about their colourful approach to design, getting their name out there and the fun poster series they created with Affinity Designer during lockdown.
Tea and Jimbo
Tell us a bit about yourselves and your creative studio BAM!

Hi, we are Tea and Jimbo, a couple who met in a student exchange in Estonia many years ago. Of course, we didn’t know then we would have a business together, that idea came years later when we were sitting in a bar after finishing university, contemplating what to do with our lives and where to go from there. We had a vision and a bit of courage, so we decided to settle on this journey and that is how BAM! was born—totally random over a cup of coffee on a sunny day in Budapest. And from then on we’ve been determined to make the world a bit more colourful and fun!

What skillset does each of you bring to the team?

We are happy to say that our skills complement each other well. We both excel in different areas and that is why we are a great team! Tea’s unusual ideas give the perfect twist to our work while Jimbo has more of a technical approach that gives the perfect finishing touches. One thing is for sure, we are in love with vibrant and super colourful styles and that’s what we try to portray in each and every design we come up with.

“…we are in love with vibrant and super colourful styles and that’s what we try to portray in each and every design we come up with.”

How would you describe your approach to design?

A design is like a playground with a bunch of toys to play with. Concept, shapes, colour, textures… each of these play an essential role and we make sure none are neglected in our process. We like to approach each design with strict professionalism but keeping it relaxed and impactful.

How do your designs usually develop? Do you both have a different way of working?

The start of our process usually begins by brainstorming in our favourite coffee place. With a nice cup of coffee, our creative juices start flowing and we just sketch and discuss until we find a solution we are really happy with. After that, we divide the tasks that suit our individual skills and start creating! We love to do the final touch-ups together once the individual parts are done.

Do you prefer a strict brief or a more open one when working with a client?

While a strict brief is easier to approach, we love big challenges. That’s why we prefer a bit more freedom where we get to analyse the brand in-depth and discover what can help them stand out. We love being reached by brands who want to hire us for our style and encourage us to experiment, but who doesn’t?

We love your mural work. What challenges do you face when working at such a large scale?

Ever since our teen days, murals have been one of our favourite things to look at. For us graphic designers, the comfort of sitting on a chair every day can be a blessing but also a curse! A few years ago we decided to be more active and murals helped us with getting outside of the box. We have painted in five different countries and we have found all kinds of obstacles.

While painting small murals can be tedious for small elements, painting murals at a large scale is super challenging. The biggest mural we’ve painted was nine meters tall and each letter was bigger than ourselves. We can say our biggest fear with working on big canvases is translating our designs onto a huge wall and making it look proportional, but difficulties like this are what makes mural painting so interesting.

Tell us more about the poster design you submitted to 100 Days. 100 Commissions. What was the inspiration behind it?

After being locked up for almost three months in Jimbo’s parents’ house (we got stuck in Spain due to COVID) we started portraying our everyday routine. We’ve decided to create a series of three posters that portrayed our situation by exaggerating how fun was to be locked down. We knew that situation would be temporary and always tried to be super positive about it, that’s why we created super colourful pieces that would lift peoples’ spirits up!

How did you first hear about Affinity and what inspired you to give Affinity Designer a try?

We believe we heard about Affinity in our creative community. In the last few years, there’s been a need to move from conventional design software and try out what’s new out there. After hearing about and trying different raster and vector apps we thought it was about time to try Affinity Designer and see if it was as good as people were saying. Boom! At that moment we actually realised we had found a piece of software where we could combine both raster and vector and we totally decided to stay for good. What we found super interesting is to have the same app for Desktop and iPad, which is really important for us since we work both on computer and iPad.

What tools/features do you enjoy using most?

We truly enjoy how easy is to go from Pixel to Vector Persona, the fact that we can have unlimited layers (a lifesaver!), almost indefinite zoom, auto-save option, unlimited undo’s, iPad compatibility, the stroke panel and all those brush settings are just priceless! We can spend hours and hours just playing around with all the options!

We love the ‘BAM! Lab’ where you showcase your personal projects on your site. How important is it for creatives to reserve time to spend on self-initiated/passion projects?

Self-initiated projects mean a huge deal to creatives. While client work pays the bills, personal projects fulfil our creative needs. You get to work on things you care about and get to have fun with new styles that actually attract you. In our experience, these kinds of projects have landed us our favourite clients who wanted us to create things we were truly passionate about. And believe us, getting paid to do what you love is everyone’s dream!

How do you go about getting your name out there to attract new clients?

We love being social and that’s what lands us the most clients. Being active in the community has been essential to us, and also, creating a network in past jobs as well as travelling and meeting new people is something that has helped us a bunch. In the end, we enjoy being out there and it makes us grow both professionally and personally. And as we mentioned before, self-initiated projects have been essential to us. When we are designing for ourselves we really show who we are and what we love doing and that has convinced all of our clients that we are a great fit for them.

“…self-initiated projects have been essential to us. When we are designing for ourselves we really show who we are and what we love doing and that has convinced all of our clients that we are a great fit for them.”

You also create and sell digital assets including brushes and fonts. Is this something you’re looking to develop further?

We started creating fonts in college and about three years ago we decided to start selling some. In the early stages, it was a bit tricky because we weren’t targeting our audience with what we were selling and after some thought and engaging with our Instagram followers we decided to take a whole new path by creating brushes and educational content. After one year we already have seven products and two of those are for Affinity. These brush sets are all created from real-life samples and allow our customers to create lettering and illustrations with a bunch of rough textures, something we adore as you can see in all our work!

Do you have any favourite projects that you’ve worked on since the studio first opened?

Definitely! Apart from our products and personal projects, we’ve worked on a wide range of projects. Our favourites have been in the world of packaging and illustration. To name a few:

  • Kombucha labels (client—Ekipa)
  • Ron Esclavo Illustrations for Rum Bottles (client—AM Copenhagen & 1423 World Class Spirits)
  • Whip Up Mural (client—Ajuntament de Mollerussa)
  • Fierce Women Card Game (client—VOX Feminae)
Can you tell us what you’re working on right now?

At the moment we are working on a huge poster for a fruit store (see the sneak peek below), a huge exclusive product on lettering composition, and a new website! Which we are so excited to launch!

Do you have any ‘top tips’ for success in the world of design and illustration?

There is no secret formula to success but this is what has worked for us so far:

  • Find a Niche you’re passionate about and stick to it.
  • Find people that inspire you and try to deconstruct their work. How do they do it? Find a few of them and incorporate their techniques in your work. Don’t copy them directly though!
  • Create constantly and share it on Social Media. Creating a routine will make you improve exponentially.
  • Have breaks, enjoy your friends and find other activities. Disconnecting from time to time will help you find inspiration and you’ll come back stronger!

You can see more work from BAM! at shoutbam.com and on Instagram.

The Fade & Shade and Rough & Raw brush sets for Affinity are available to purchase on designcuts.com and if lettering is your thing check out @jimbobernaus on Instagram for lettering inspiration, tutorials and tips.