Q & A with Sean O'Sullivan of Badly Made Books – designist
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Q & A with Sean O'Sullivan of Badly Made Books

Posted by Orla Reynolds on

This week in our Designer Q & A Series we meet Sean O'Sullivan from Badly Made Books. These notebooks are printed, bound and formed in Dublin using recycled and recyclable materials, you can check out the range here


So what is working for yourself like?

I could talk all day about just this one question. Working for yourself is both good and bad but never mediocre, it's all highs and lows without ever being boring. The high points make it all worthwhile.

Did you always want to be a designer/ maker?

There are a lot of makers and designers in my family so I suppose it's something that has always been part of me though if I remember correctly I wanted to be an author when I was a kid. I wanted to be a lawyer once too until I found out that we only had solicitors in Ireland, that didn't seem as interesting.




How long does it take to make one of your Books? 

Under ten minutes and that's about as accurate as I can be. Ask me again in six months.

Were there many iterations before you got to the final product?

Yes, very very many. I probably could have taken a book binding course years ago but instead I just started folding paper and finding ways to stick it all together. You get there eventually through trial and error. You have to learn from your mistakes and keep going, that means you have to build a lot of books.


There are lots of spinning plates, what do you find to be the most challenging part of being a designer/ maker & promoter/ seller of your products?

Keeping all the plates spinning and not forgetting about any of them. As much as I enjoy the varied aspect of running the business myself, I find it can be difficult to find the time for sitting down and 'being creative' when you know there's a to-do list underneath the sketch pad. That said, difficult is interesting, and interesting is enjoyable.

When you're not designing what do you like to do?

Cooking has always been important in my family and there's nothing like making good food for friends or family at the end of the day. I like to make art too and I still draw for pleasure even when I shouldn't technically be 'working'

Is there anything next in the pipeline?

There's always more ideas in my head than time to get them all completed so I'll only talk about the ones that are underway.

I'm most excited about a picture book that I'm currently illustrating. I've been working on it with the poet Geoff Finan and it will be the first story book released under the 'badly made books' name. The first of many.

There's also a badly made chair in the pipeline. As a birthday present to myself I'll be headed for Cork to turn a sketch into a reality with my uncle John Lehane of Gallaun Forge in Cork. I've always wanted to design my own chair.

Badly Made Books detail

Who is your favourite designer/ influence?

My uncle John who I just mentioned. He's always been someone I've been close to and a source of great inspiration to me. He's a true craftsman, designing and making everything himself, and an honest person. Though you won't find him on the internet there's a radius of a good few miles around his home in Nohoval you'd hardly find a soul who doesn't know him or his work.

And finally, Barry's or Lyons?
I'm a Cork man at heart so I'm going to have to say Barry's but honestly I wouldn't even be able to tell the difference. Coffee please.

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