The Designers: Mucho’s Lyam Bewry on moving abroad, being proactive and tackling creative block
The Designers delves deep into the world’s leading design studios through a series of in-depth conversations with the individuals that make them tick. For number fifteen in the series, we spoke to Lyam Bewry, a British design director working at Mucho in San Francisco.
EM Hi Lyam, how have you been?
LB Hi Elliott. Good, thanks.
EM Do you associate your first interests in design to anything in particular?
LB It’s funny, as a child I aspired to be a car designer because basically, I loved drawing cars. That dream was crushed one day when I finally got to meet a car designer who told me he spends his days drawing gear levers.
My interest in graphic design stemmed from music though. I often hear the generation above say a similar thing paying respect to their favourite record covers. I wish I could say the same, but for me, it started with Myspace. Far less romantic.
As an early teenager, I was producing 8-bit music on Nintendo Gameboys (the ones from 1989) and had to design the Myspace page to showcase it. Then the album art. Then the gig posters. As my interest in music grew, so did my interest in design. By the end, I was designing t-shirts, a website, and strange little plastic Gameboys to throw into crowds at gigs. I would eventually spend more time on the design than the music itself, not that it showed back then.
I aspired to be a car designer because basically, I loved drawing cars.
EM What did your journey to joining the team at Mucho look like?
LB Around 130 emails. A few FaceTimes. A lot of late nights preparing US Visa documents. Getting rid of most of my belongings. And a wedding to top it off.
EM How did you find moving country and settling into a new city and job in the midst of a pandemic?
LB As you’d expect, not so smooth. I’d still say I’m settling in and it’s been over a year.
EM Have you noticed any difference between the design industry and studio culture in the UK and the US?
LB I think it’s too early to say. The industry and culture have been turned on its head since the pandemic.
I’d still say I’m settling in and it’s been over a year.
EM Have you found working from home has impacted the way in which you work?
LB Not hugely, though I found it more difficult to switch off. At one point I was designing in my dreams. Which was all good until I dreamt that the text was too close to the gutter in the print artwork I had sent off earlier that day!
EM What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career so far?
LB I would say the biggest challenges have been psychological. Working in design can be very mentally and psychologically taxing. You have to think of ‘good’ ideas and develop ‘good’ taste (which everyone has a different opinion of). You can go from euphoria about something to self-doubt in a split second. Early in your career, you can face a lot of rejection. The list goes on.
Not many talk about it but I imagine a lot of designers have struggled with this side of things at some point. And I’m sure it hits those who care most about design harder.
You can go from euphoria about something to self-doubt in a split second.
EM As you’ve transitioned through to senior design positions, what have been the pros and cons of how your role has changed?
LB As I’ve progressed it’s been great to become more of a mentor to others inside and out of the studio. I’ve had the privilege of working with, and learning from some remarkable people over the years and it’s great to pass some of that wisdom on.
With becoming more senior you also have to take on more responsibilities for yourself and for what others are doing. I wouldn’t call this out as a con though, it’s just that the expectation is higher.
EM What’s been the most memorable lesson that you’ve learnt over the years?
LB Be opportunistic and proactive. It could be in pursuing a dream job, pushing work beyond what’s expected, or as simple as following up on an unanswered email. It’s hugely shaped the work I’ve created and my pathway as a designer.
EM What does your setup look like?
I find myself moving from one thought to the next very quickly.
EM Do you have a project you consider to be your best work?
LB I don’t think so. I try to make every new project as good or better than the last in some way. It’s not always possible but this optimism keeps me going.
EM Do you ever get creative block? If so, how do you handle it?
LB Occasionally. Early on I find it helps not to overthink whether something is a ‘great idea’ whilst coming up with ideas. This is incredibly liberating creatively. I find myself moving from one thought to the next very quickly, making quick notes or sketches, and revisiting the best ideas later.
If that fails, I’d say take a shower… or maybe go to bed. I often find myself drawing on misted shower curtains or scribbling ideas half asleep.
EM What skills would you like to learn that you haven’t yet found the time for?
LB I would happily wake up an expert in type design, 3D design and web development. In reality, though, I’m chuffed to just find pockets of time to produce music.
EM Would you like to set up your own studio one day?
LB Let’s see.