/ log / 30th Dec, 2009 /

Introducing Analog

Analog logotype

Just before Christmas, a few friends and I launched a new company, Analog. Writing this, I’m still a little surprised at the praise from all those generous people about the holding page. After all, to me, analog.coop is just that: a little holding page. We did work hard on it and laughed a lot after the easter eggs started to appear. (Have you found all three, yet?) Then, we kept on laughing every time we saw them — a good sign. However, we never felt like the copy was quite right, and know we have more to do. Maybe that illustrates why I’m still chuffed a couple of weeks later.

We stand on the shoulders of those who’ve come before, but we also lean on the shoulders of those around us. That simple truth is why I believe in collaboration, and co-ops in particular, and why Analog exists. It’s a company of friends.

Analog is a change of tempo in a co-operative playlist that started a long time ago for me. I’m not sure where it began but I’m pretty sure it was way before I actually knew what a co-op was. (That is, apart from the Co-op supermarket near my Nan’s house.) Back in the early ’90s, running club nights and working behind the plates, I always ended up doing stuff with other people. I’d invite veteran jazz musicians to jam over the beats, with a mic plugged into the mixer. I almost always worked with other DJs. It was always so much more fun to have other people around. A friend who worked in a print shop was indispensable when I was designing flyers back in 1992. I remember designing a comp on a piece of paper. It was a logomark with a bit of copy. In the print shop we printed lines of text at different weights in different fonts, cut out the bits we liked, and stuck them into place with spray mount. We photographed the layout, and made a plate to print from. We chose the card together, and the dark silver ink. I would never have used either without my friend’s knowledge and help.

Fast forward a bit to the early part of the ‘noughties’, and realising how working collaboratively across disciplines was so critical for web sites, I founded Grow Collective. I think of it as a test run for Analog. What it proved to me is that the co-operative principles made sense, and turned me into something of an evangelist. I believe that everyone working on a project should profit equitably from it according to the scope of their participation. I believe we should have the right to claim our own work irrevocably, without suffering the indignity of being white-labelled. (It still happens.) I believe that working for nothing in order to secure clients is daft, and reject the notion that designing ‘on spec’ has any benefit whatsoever for anyone involved. I believe that there are other choices than working either for an agency, or freelance. I believe that if democracy and freedom are important to us, then they shouldn’t be signed away when we take a job.

It seems that everyone reaches a certain stage (or is that age) when the security of being an employee compares badly with the quality of life that independence can bring. I attach great value to being able to decide where the lines are drawn between profitability and quality; between when to rest and when to work; between what to do, how to do it, and who with. It’s a question of happiness. If independence is directly linked to happiness, but collaboration is the catalyst that makes good ideas work, a co-operative is an obvious choice, and Analog is my answer. I think it has all of the benefits of independence but a structure that could compete with the brand equity of agencies. It’s an hypothesis that is still unproven, but I believe in it. It feels right.

Of course, the members of a co-op are all-important. If I may, I’d like to introduce you to my colleagues:

These guys are some of the best people I know. Not just in their work, but personally, too. When we wrote ‘good people, good work’ in our opening paragraph on the Analog site, it was a manifesto rather than a statement. Leaning on their shoulders has already given us great fun with JavaScript and CSS (the Analog easter eggs), with GeoIP, the Twitter API, and our little #grid. All of them can be seen on the Analog holding page. I’m proud of the work we’ve done already, and we’ve barely started. Sitting here in a lounge chair at home, with my feet up, and Ommwriter soothing my ears and eyes, I’m smiling to myself at the thought of things to come. Remembering some of the kind words people have said, I’m pulling that wry face we sometimes get when the praise of others is humbling, warm, but still a little embarrassing. Thank you if you’re one of them.

After a brief excursion to wrestle a three-year-old (involuntarily), I guess I should wrap this up. I don’t know how this Analog gig will play out. Sometimes, back in the early 90s, I would often start with familiar tracks that I and the audience knew and loved. After a while, I always had an urge to try and play something different. Maybe an accapella over an ancient break-beat, or the intense Pao De Acucar from Pacific Jam. Analog is one of those gigs.

If you fancy keeping up with how we do, follow analogcoop. If you’d like to work with us, please get in touch. If anyone has questions about co-operatives, feel free to ask, or keep an eye out for follow-up entries. One of them is sure to be about how to form an international co-op, as well a bits about the brand, the site, and things I’ve learnt so far.

Here’s wishing all of you a happy, healthy 2010!

Share

Browse More Articles

22 Comments

  1. 1. By Leon on 30th Dec ’09 at 07:29am

    Well, we’ve missed your work, Jon; hence the effusive praise. And it is a lovely web page.

    I like the idea of coops and I think they’re gaining a bit of traction in the business world. I guess the obvious question is who’s in charge and how do you make effective decisions?

    Anyway, good luck and I look forward to seeing some of the work.

    (P.S. pedantic note: there’s a typo in It seem that everyone)

  2. 2. By Elliot Jay Stocks on 30th Dec ’09 at 07:53am

    Congratulations, mate. To all of you! You’re an awesome bunch and I know you’ll put out amazing work.

    Here’s to an exciting new year!

  3. 3. By mk2 on 30th Dec ’09 at 08:04am

    So I guess this is the reason for your absence in writing new blog posts, huh? :D

    Congratulation! Nice one-page-style site you have there. I wish a great success for Analog in 2010. I really like your GeoIP implementation to welcome visitors, I think I’d like to try that too next time. :D

  4. 4. By Zach LeBar on 3rd Jan ’10 at 11:41am

    Boy, talk about an all-star crew. Exciting to see a new super team being formed. Can’t wait to see what you guys put together.

    -A humble admirer, Zach LeBar

  5. Jon 陳’s profile 5. By Jon 陳 on 4th Jan ’10 at 03:23am

    Thanks for the well-wishes! Leon, you’re an ace copy editor as always. :) Cheers, Elliot! mk2, it is, but that’s being rectified! Thanks, Zach.

  6. 6. By Alexander All on 5th Jan ’10 at 04:27am

    Of course i wish you a lot of luck! But the team consists of highly qualified members (like an all-star-team) and i think you can only be successful!

  7. 7. By Peter B on 5th Jan ’10 at 14:51pm

    Congratulations! I think co-operatives are overlooked and will be watching you closely to see how this works out.

    I believe that everyone working on a project should profit equitably from it according to the scope of their participation.

    I agree entirely with your sentiment, but the stumbling block every time I’ve proposed this with others has been - how do we “measure the scope of everyone’s participation”? By the hour worked doesn’t cut it, neither does line of code. What metric have you come up with to share the profit from each job?

    [By the way: anti-spam question “Jon’s first name” won’t accept “Jonathan”!]

  8. Jon 陳’s profile 8. By Jon 陳 on 6th Jan ’10 at 02:18am

    Thanks Alexander. :)

    Cheers, Peter! I’m curious as to why, in your experience, time ‘doesn’t cut it’; why not?

    Time can work for this simple reason: If people respect one another enough to work together, it should be easy to mutually agree that everyone’s time is equally valuable. Of course, this also extends to external time spent on activities like finding, securing, and administering work, as well as actual lines of code, or pixels placed. The only issue that remains is the common rate. However, we may not do it that way. We may concentrate on charging per project, using a waterfall approach to start with, but able to incorporate an agile switch (and fee adjustment) if required as scope changes. I’ll post more when we know more.

  9. 9. By Andrew Maier on 6th Jan ’10 at 14:57pm

    Hmm, my comment got lost. Suffice it to say that both the Analog site and this blog are fantastically designed. It’s the first I’ve learned of any of you guys and your design endeavors but your work is top notch and I have no doubt your endeavors will be successful.

    Here’s to a great 2010!

    -Andrew

  10. 10. By Steve Avery on 11th Jan ’10 at 02:31am

    Hey Jon. Awesome work. And what an awesome team!

    Really looking forward to what you guys produce this year. I don’t feel the need to wish you guys the best of luck… I just know that Analog will be special.

    Just wondering what will happen to gr0w now though?

  11. 11. By Terry on 22nd Jan ’10 at 12:39pm

    Great page. Found the rooster. And the other two easter eggs?

  12. 12. By Cesar on 30th Jan ’10 at 00:03am

    Amazing work done with Analog, best of luck to you guys this year…

    @Terry, the other ones are the grid and the animated mugshots.

  13. 13. By Mattia on 3rd Feb ’10 at 07:51am

    hi Jon, well work your site. I’m from Italy and I 'm a webdesigner, too. Just doing my first steps….I love your work and analog’s great!

    good luck!

  14. 14. By JohnT on 8th Feb ’10 at 10:53am

    Found the eggs! Nice site.

  15. 15. By Richard Fink on 24th Feb ’10 at 20:11pm

    Jon, know you’re involved with Rich Rutter and Fontdeck and you’ve written a bit on @font-face.

    just a heads up to check out this new free tool:

    EOTFAST

    EOTFAST is a utility for creating natively compressed EOT files for use with any domain.

    Convert once, use on any site. Savings in file size typically range from 45% to 70%.

    Other conversion utilities like Microsoft WEFT or ttf2eot are now obsolete.

    A great screen font like Droid Serif starts out at 169kb as a TTF with the full character set but as an EOTFAST file it weighs in at only 80kb. With still the full character set. Compression is lossless.

    The documentation contains information for designers looking to prepare fonts for use on the web.

    The download package also contains a HTML “EOT File Integrity Test" page and a helpful “fallback" test font.

    EOTFAST is a must-have for anyone looking to use @font-face web fonts today.

  16. 16. By Joey on 6th Mar ’10 at 03:33am

    Long time reader - first time commenter! Good luck with the new company, hope it all works out for you :)

  17. 17. By Jarrod on 12th Apr ’10 at 13:48pm

    I love the fact that you embrace the team philosophy in business. When true synergy happens, 1+1 does not equal 2….. 1+1 can equal 10 or 50, the sky is the limit.

  18. 18. By Bilal on 19th Apr ’10 at 15:51pm

    Definitely interesting the idea of sharing the profit equitably. Sometimes, you wonder what value your employer is really adding to your work.

  19. 19. By Wim de Winter on 3rd May ’10 at 12:56pm

    Only yesterday morning “typography” was an exotic word to me. Today, my mouth dropped wide in admiration when I saw the red “Analog”. Now there is beauty!

    Only as a photographer I say: it’s good that you chose to do the portraits in B&W, but it is not a coherent series. Every face has a different lighting. There is room for improvement.

    good luck!

  20. 20. By Dan Millar on 12th Jul ’10 at 06:42am

    I’ve been following Analog since you launched, but only just read this blog which was very interesting. You mentioned you may write something regarding setting up an international co-op. I would be very interested in reading about that and how you structure yourselves within the co-op (i.e. who works on each project and how profits are shared and costs covered). We currently operate more as a traditional agency, but I feel a co-op might work well and empower people more.

    Anyway, best of luck with your new (ish) venture.

  21. 21. By Martin Lapietra on 19th Nov ’10 at 17:28pm

    You mentioned you may write something regarding setting up an international co-op.!!!

  22. 22. By Sam on 3rd May ’11 at 14:11pm

    Just thought I’d mention that the Analogue design is fantastic.

Post a Comment

Required sections are marked § . Please remember, debate and courtesy are mutually inclusive.

Personal Details and Authentication
Comment

Lately in the Log

  1. Anakin Tue, 26th Jun 2012 {4}

    I’m pleased to be able to say that Analog is joining forces with…

  2. We, Who Are Web Designers Mon, 19th Sep 2011 {65}

    In 2003, my wife Lowri and I went to a christening party. We were friends…

  3. Ampersand, the Aftermath Wed, 22nd Jun 2011 {3}

    The first Ampersand web typography conference took place in Brighton last…

  4. Design Festival, The Setup, and Upcoming Posts Mon, 20th Jun 2011 {1}

    Wow, this has been a busy period. I’m just back from the Ampersand…

  5. Web Design as Narrative Architecture Wed, 30th Mar 2011 {12}

    Stories are everywhere. When they don’t exist we make up the…

  6. Ides of March Tue, 15th Mar 2011 {4}

    My friend and colleague, Chris, has shared a spiffing idea, the Ideas of…

Remarks from the log

  1. By ilkyaz reklam in Typeface != Font:

    as a teacher in graphic software. Your article explenation is perfectly clear http://ilkyazreklam.com

  2. By Otomatik Rent A Car in Seven Things:

    I can empathize with the book. The image of a tiny kayak with a man http://otomatikrentacar.com

  3. By Otomatik Rent A Car in Seven Things:

    I can empathize with the book. The image of a tiny kayak with a man http://otomatikrentacar.com

  4. By Otomatik Rent A Car in Seven Things:

    I can empathize with the book. The image of a tiny kayak with a man

  5. By DarkStar in Smoothing out the Creases in Web Fonts:

    I agree with Leicester that table is great!

  6. By Martin Varesio in Ampersand, the Aftermath:

    His dry, droll, richly-flavoured delivery was a humorous counterpoint to some controversial asides…

People and XFN

Analog folks:

  1. Andrei Zmievski

  2. Chris Shiflett

  3. Jon Gibbins

Friends, colleagues, and authors with interesting voices:

  1. Ben Ramsey

  2. Dan Mall

  3. Denna Jones

  4. Ed Finkler

  5. Elizabeth Naramore

  6. Elliot Jay Stocks

  7. John D. Boardley

  8. Helgi Þormar Þorbjörnsson

  9. Joe Leech

  10. Jos Buivenga

  11. Kester Limb

  12. Nicola Pressi

  13. Patrick H. Lauke

  14. Piotr Fedorczyk

  15. Richard Rutter

  16. Rick Hurst

  17. Sean Coates

  18. Simon Pascal Klein

  19. Terry Chay

Live the questions and one day grow into the answers.