How a Death Metal Rocker Built a World Renowned Graphic Design Company

Radim Malinic is a good friend of mine who consistently amazes me with his ability to produce things of true quality.

I suppose this is less of a surprise when you consider that his main philosophy is to focus on quality work, no matter who you’re working for. Just looking through these images demonstrates his eye for colour, structure, strong design, and great presentation.

His graphic design business Brand Nu was built from scratch, and now features a large list of major clientele from Acer, 007, Harry Potter, USAID to Cadbury, WWF and Xbox.



To coincide with the release of his newest book: The Book of Ideas, he spoke to me about his background before being a designer, how he built his brand, how he runs his creative business, how he works, and what’s next.

Who is Radim Malinic?

I am a creative director and designer and I always aim to find the most fitting answers to any problem. Each new commission starts with a blank piece of paper and many questions to understanding the full scope of the project.

My work is always a collaborative process, I get clients involved as much as possible. I work with the full spectrum of worldwide clients, ranging from household brands to small family businesses, musicians and individuals to non profit organisations and charities.

“There’s a huge crossover through everything that I do. I enjoy the cross pollination of ideas and worlds.”

There’s no set agenda or manifesto of what I do. Every day could differ to another. This year so far I’ve worked on a TV show branding, charity ad campaign, type posters, fashion magazine, T-shirt range, branding projects, digital illustration and web design.

Design is the connecting line through it all.


The Story

I was born in Czech republic and I definitely didn’t follow the usual path of graphic designer. I played ice hockey, formed a death metal band, performed as a DJ and studied business economics. However, all of those elements have added to my skill-set as a designer.

Sixteen years ago, I moved to the UK to follow my passion – music. I wanted to be closer to the place that seemed to invent a new genre of music in a lunch break.

Soon after I realised I could put my basic knowledge of design software to use and I got a job as junior designer in small print company. This became the beginning of a journey that I am still on.


The Challenges

Sometimes I find, it’s not the actual work that would be the struggle, it’s the lack of available time to ensure everything else gets the right amount of attention.

Once you amass number of semi-regular clients with semi-regular requirements, you’re likely not to worry about the frequency of the regular income as much as you are worried about the time you can provide to all clients at once.

“Every day can change with a single phone call or email.”

The meticulous planning of each day can go out of window just as quickly as it was put together. This could be frustrating, but it is also one of the reasons why I have set up the business in this way.

I have zero chance of being bored by the doing the same thing over and over. It just doesn’t happen.


Key Advice from Radim:

When you enter the tempting landscape of the creative industry, you’re most likely to focus all your attention into the quality of your work, and be fully immersed in this world.

You think more about the body of your work rather than client relations or getting the right accountant. This is the way it should be, anyone who wants to get rich this way is a fool. However, once you’ve made it round the clock a few times, you realise you are running a business alike any other.

Not only do you have to posses some actual business acumen, but also you need to look after your clients and provide a world class service even if it’s not occasionally deserved by them.

Your reputation goes much further than your Photoshop skills. A business that is run properly stays around for years to come.


I have always been an advocate for having a solid, no bullshit website with a diverse body of work. No bells, no whistles, with proper SEO to ensure people can find me. The new era of mass folio sites is serving the right purpose but far too many people seem them as the holy grail.

“Designer / illustrators spend far too much time and effort on promoting themselves to other creatives instead of reaching out to anyone who might need their services.”

The key is to see everyone as your potential client and be personable showcasing your knowledge of your craft. Great work isn’t created just for the Fortune 500 companies via big agencies.

Anyone can aim to smash the expectations and provide a piece of stunning work that will make everyone take notice.

When you surprise people with great work, you will open the world of possibilities to them.


The Book of Ideas

Since my very first design talk at Montreal Meets in 2012, I started to entertain an idea of a book that explains the view from which I see the world of creativity. 

The more talks I did, the more I knew I was tapping into something that might have a potential to resonate with people in the design industry and beyond.

For the next few years, I kept making notes and observations, I made mistakes and broke things whilst learning from the experiences to form the vision of what the book should be about.

“I didn’t want to write another design business guide or showcase portfolio book telling people how amazing the work is.”

I just set out to write a book about what I have gone through in my work and the personal experience that came with it.

Book of Ideas is a journal of my ups and downs in the creative industry. It’s about how the world outside influences the creativity inside; and how it inspires us, teaches us and makes us create better work.


What’s Next?

Over the course of the last few years, I have been exploring the world of possibilities in 3D printing, laser cutting, engraving and all other ways of taking an image from my screen and making it something I can touch and feel.


I am a big believer in making something out of nothing, whilst learning new skills through play.

“I call it, turning dust into gold.”

The next project I am working on is an exhibition show that will consist of a dozen of typographic pieces using chapter titles from the Book of Ideas.

They will be made from a range of various materials and techniques to see where next I can take the typographic poster format.

The show, called aptly ‘Dust & Gold’ is aiming to encourage more people to explore the possibilities that are available to us.


Alex’s note: Radim’s book can be bought here. I’ve received a copy and I can attest to the beautiful quality of the book itself and the value of the content inside.

I’ve read the book and have picked up about a dozen ideas that I can apply in my own career.

It’s really worth having as a physical book, and is something I plan to open up for inspiration and new ideas.

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