clunkydoodles – Made in Clerkenwell


By Joe Mellor, Deputy Editor

“It all began as an inspired accident”, says Duncan James,  a designer for a leading Clerkenwell-based advertising agency.

“Doodling is a creative sanctuary for all graphic artists, but during one particularly tedious client briefing, something fascinating started to happen. A cartoon character, began to emerge from my idle scribbling.”

From that day on clunkydoodles was born, out of sheer boredom. After months of development Duncan posted his results on Instagram and the response was overwhelming, culminating in a wave of private commissions.

Duncan says: “Convinced that my casual doodles now had a genuine commercial future, I launched ‘’ last year. And, that’s when things really took off. My journey has taken me into the world of children’s books where I am now working on a series of ‘clunkydoodles adventures’.

Last Friday, 30th May, he launched his first ‘clunkydoodles gallery’ at the Department of Coffee and Social Affairs.  As I wandered through the innovative exhibition, the general mood was overwhelming positive. Could a mess become a movement?

Gavin Torrance, creative director at an advertising agency said: “This exhibition is one of the most innovative and engaging I’ve seen in a long time. Bold, striking illustrations, huge engaging prints, stand-out lino-cuts and full on vibrant original one-off murals.”

The positive vibe was supported by John Amann,  architect, who mentioned: “I love how clunkydoodles has developed, taking imaginative sketch book characters and developing them into the fresh, clean, enjoyable art forms on display. Thoroughly enjoyable, the kind of exhibition that puts a smile on your face. Can’t wait to see where the journey goes next!”

If that wasn’t praise enough, Pete Goodrum, writer & broadcaster said: “What Duncan James has created with Clunkydoodles are big, bold, black and white designs that merge themes and mix shapes into stunning, robot related, arresting, images. Every time you look at one you see an element you’d missed before. And every time you look at one, you want to look again. I think we’re going to be looking at a lot of Clunkydoodles.”

Due to the success of the exhibition, this week Duncan signed a contract with the barista chain to launch clunkydoodles in each of their venues in the capital, which are taking London by storm. A storm in a coffee cup, if you will.

Duncan said: “At street level, funky ‘clunkydoodles’ exterior designs will create an intrigue that grabs public imagination and attention.  And, once inside, the customer experience continues. Cool interior murals on calming white walls will create a fun environment where people can kick back and relax. How many companies have limited edition artwork created solely for their brand?

“It’s all been a fantastic journey: from casual doodles to commissions, books to barista contracts.”

I guess the moral of this urban fairy-tale is even when you are wasting time, in a meeting, on a bus or waiting for friends in a coffee shop (maybe even one with clunkydoodles on the walls!), a revolutionary idea can come to you, don’t fight it, embrace it.

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