Jacob Armitage
Started getting paid for design2006
Graduated from Huddersfield2012
Founded D5 Media2013
Graduated from Goldsmiths2014
Started working at M&C Saatchi2015
Gained independence2018


After working for some time as a ‘traditional’ graphic designer (as in making logos, posters and stuff) it eventually became clear that design meant a lot more to him than typefaces, icons and pictures. Drawing influence from Massimo & Lella Vignelli, Stefan Sagmeister and Charles & Ray Eames, Jacob likes to think that design skills can benefit practically anything.

Some like to use the term ‘design thinking’ but to Jacob this comes down to ‘common sense’. We’re surrounded by design everywhere we turn in the modern day. The tenets that make good graphic design are the very same constituent parts of good furniture design, illustration, architecture or film. Each is considered a ‘success’ by achieving spontaneous human appreciation. The very best examples of design elicit a visceral, emotive reaction and change the way people think and act. To do this requires an intricate understanding of where that ‘thing’ fits within it’s social and physical environment.


Jacob Armitage was born and bred in Yorkshire, in the North of England. From an early age Jacob worked as a graphic designer of sorts, helping his father design and install signage, while simultaneously pursuing an interest in film production. In 2006, Jacob worked in construction in Leeds and Sheffield before moving to Huddersfield to study film production and eventually communication design. In 2013 these dispersed skill sets found an affinity while studying design at Goldsmiths, University of London.

“We are part of a morphogenetic intent and unfolding reality that is larger than human understanding.”
-Terrence McKenna.
Each day science progresses in describing the physical reality in which we exist, but it is an objective reality. The subjective, that is the metaphysical and aesthetic elements of the human experience, remain largely unexplored and indescribable. Almost everyone on the planet experiences uplifting stimulation at the witnessing of a sunrise, but few can explain why. Professors of aesthetics will theorise as to why and scientists will assert with certainty the technicalities of dopamine, neuron receptors and serotonin. But it is designers who practice the art of affecting the individual with the shape, form, sound and experiences of objects and images. Through this practical ‘doing’, as opposed to the theoretical ‘thinking’, we are able to develop the language and tools which enable us to take advantage of these emotional, behavioural and visceral reactions to achieve desired ends.

The art of design

Design utilises ancient and unspoken techniques of visual trickery. Everyone possesses such skills, but they’re undervalued in modern society. Only a few designers have kept the craft alive. Proficiency in these methods, procedures and approaches elicit chosen emotions and ultimately influence behaviour.


Graphic Design in its most basic form concerns the use of images, icons and layout to communicate desired values. Each of the arranged elements within a composition: photography, illustration, iconography and copy, play an equal part in the message conveyed and should be carefully considered.


Illustration reaches places words and photography cannot. The earliest cave paintings were created between 30 and 40,000 years ago and represent a form of communication older than all spoken languages. It is this primal nature of the medium that still speaks to people today. An illustration is able to communicate complex ideas and values in direct conversation with the observer’s primitive inner-self.


Animation utilises the same communicative tools as design and illustration: Form, colour, composition, shape, tone and texture. It then adds a dimension of time. This additional aspect enables the medium to more clearly articulate the relationship of these elements. Doing so can be more engaging, insightful, inspirational and impressive.

Visual Art

Let’s not get into the ‘what is art?’ debate. You know what’s definitely not art? That clichéd discussion. Artisans create artefacts and that is art – it has a dictionary definition and everything – here it is: ‘The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.”


Aesthetic Perception


Designed ‘Object’

When a person observes a designed ‘object’ (which may be anything from a spoon to a city) it is perceived through a series of filters.

Evolutionary Instinct

Firstly, the object is filtered through biasses passed down to us through generations of evolution. Sharp, pointed forms, for example, represent danger, whereas vast, empty spaces communicate creativity.

Cultural Filter

Culture plays a role in how an object is interpreted. For example: Red, in the west, might represent passion or danger, but in China, luck. People are less self-aware of these cultural perspectives than their personal opinions, but more so than their evolutionary biasses.

Personal Filter

Once an object has made it through evolutionary and cultural filters it must pass through a final personal filter. One might describe this personal filter as ‘taste’ or ‘style’. Designers use visual interpretations of psychology in order to navigate these vast, unpredictable biases.

of Utility

Success in design is measured in terms of ‘inspiration’. The closer ‘purpose’ is to ‘utility’ the more likely ‘inspiration’ occurs. The ‘purpose’ of a design is its intention. Its ‘utility’ is how useful that intention becomes.

In its most basic form the design achieves a seemingly inexplicable sense of ‘spontaneous satisfaction’ in its audience. The explanation for this however is that it satisfies their ‘evolutionary biases’.


Once ‘spontaneous satisfaction’ is achieved the audience might be able to imagine how the design could be continued into other works by the same designer; achieving ‘auteur’ status. For example, we can imagine what another film by the same director may be like.

Following ‘auteur’ status, the ‘medium’ could be influenced. Now evidence can be seen of how the details of a design are dispersed into other designs within the same medium. For example, the style of one painting recognisable in other paintings by other painters (who weren’t necessarily alive during the same period).

Once the ideas of a designed object have permeated through a medium they may begin to influence across mediums. This ‘cross-disciplinary’ continuation of ideas might, for example, manifest in the interior design of a cafe, communicating the visual ideas of a series of films.

The point in which purpose truly meets utility is the point of instant inspiration, where a design appears to serve a ‘higher purpose’. An audience may feel this inspiration gazing upon the ornate decorations of a cathedral, an ancient mosque or an early cave painting. It’s the very same sense people feel when witnessing a sun rise. It could be said that this is the point where design transcends itself: achieving the sort of inspiration produced by natural phenomenon.

A human-made object that inspires further human-made objects: Ancestral communication spanning millennia, from the earliest hand-axes and cave paintings through to what we see and experience all around us today.

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