Dan Marshall may be relatively new to our city, but he’s no stranger to the world of graphic design. Starting his career in the UK in the 90s, Dan has developed a strong freelance brand and branched out as a children’s book author.

Dan's book, No Way!

Dan didn’t set out to be a graphic designer (or an author), but once he got started he realised it was the job he’d been preparing for since he was a child.

He said, “I stumbled into graphic design. It was a tiny little module on my university degree, which was a broad-based media degree, quite a hands-on one. When I started doing graphic design I thought ‘This is what I used to do when I was a kid’. I used to copy book covers as a kid and re-do them, which I now realise is graphic design.”

Dan Marshall's Look Book

Dan’s career has spanned decades and continents. He started in Liverpool before moving to London, Sydney and, finally, Newcastle, where he’s in the process of building his forever home.

Like many other freelancers, Dan’s start in the world of self-employment came through necessity. After being laid off from an agency, a friend told him to back his ability and go out alone. Although Dan knew he had the graphic design skills, he didn’t know how to go about getting clients and running a business.

He said, “I had no money at the time. I was renting in Sydney, I had split up with my then-girlfriend. It was fear. It was a huge moment. I always back my ability, not in an ego way, it’s just not that hard. Graphic design is literally fannying around with words and pictures.”

“I got a lucky email from someone I’d worked with in the past who was at Sydney Opera House. I did this mega pitch, didn’t win it, lost to a bona fide design company, but I was close. It got me lifted to think I could do this. I’ve had ups and downs, good years and bad.”

Since going freelance, he’s worked on countless graphic design projects and has built up a strong skillset in all areas, but he has a preference for the bigger projects.

He said, “I do sort of everything, but I always prefer the brand design, the whole shebang. So if someone comes to me for a rebrand or they don’t have a brand yet, I’ll create everything for them, from the top down. That’s the fun stuff.”

Revelry & Co, designed by Dan Marshall

“I genuinely get a kick out of doing it. I still get the initial worry when I get the blank page, even after 27 years. I think what happened a while ago with me and it definitely was a thing where all my young designer arrogance and ego, which you don’t know you’ve got but you do, I just let it go. I think when I started working for myself.”

More recently, he’s carved a niche for himself in the world of science communication. This avenue has come about from his success as an author which, again, came about in an unintended way after scrolling through social media.

Eye Heart Science design by Dan Marshall

He said, “I was on a Reddit subgroup. There was a fact I found out about Cleopatra and the iPhone — Cleopatra lived closer in time to the iPhone than she did to the building of the Great Pyramid of Giza. I was absolutely blown away, to the point where I thought it just wasn’t true.”

The idea that started Dan's career as an author

“I became fascinated by time, what we thought was yesterday is 10,000 years ago. I was trying to find all these facts about time that I wanted to illustrate. Another one was the Wright Brothers. Their first 12-second flight for the first aeroplane — from that to 69 years later, we were stood on the moon. More importantly, we came back from the moon. ”

“Because I’m visually minded, I could sort of see the facts. I found them spread all over the internet and once I was searching for them, they were everywhere. And then this book concept for time came up.”

Dan Marshall's Mind Blown book

That first book, “Mind Blown” started a passion for Dan who has now written and illustrated five books. The latest, “Eww, Gross“, an illustrated book about gross facts, is out in October.

He now has begun working on sixth book and has a new literary agent.  Dan’s keen to keep going to establish himself as a big author while still building his Studio Marshall graphic design work from The Roost.

When he moved to Newcastle, Dan started working from home but, as many find out, the lack of regular adult company got him down. Having worked with Kara Sullivan in Sydney, Dan reconnected with the Guts supremo and the topic of The Roost came up.

He summed up his experience of the co-working space by saying, “It’s great being around other creatives of all different kinds, not just creatives but other people in their jobs. I find other people’s jobs interesting. That’s one of the best things about being a graphic designer, you get a little bit of insight into other people’s businesses.”

“The benefit is being around other people, having conversations about things you don’t know already which I love. I go away knowing more than when I sat down, which has got to be a good thing, hasn’t it?”


To find out more about Dan, read his profile or visit the Studio Marshall website.