True to their company’s namesake, Matt and Andrew McCracken, the fraternal twins behind the design shop Doublenaut, share a two-headed focus on their practice. “When one of us has spent a couple of days working on something, the other can usually help balance out what’s missing,” says Matt. “We have the same taste, and often have a similar outlook on a direction for our clients.”
The McCrackens launched their design careers in university, making silkscreened posters for a music booker in their hometown of Ottawa. After each obtained a design degree and spent a year or two working apart—one at an advertising agency, the other at a design firm—the brothers decided they would rather work for themselves, setting up shop in the Toronto neighbourhood of Parkdale, in 2004. Concentrating on their lifelong interest in music, an early poster they designed for Modest Mouse gained notice from fans, circulating on online forums. Since then, the McCrackens steadily have built an aesthetic noted for its striking use of strong, innovative colour pairings and understated, retro-looking illustration. Today, Doublenaut’s clients include some of the most well-known independent artists in the industry, including Dan Mangan, Metric, and Tokyo Police Club. The shop is also the official visual designer of the Polaris Music Prize.
The McCrackens’ love of simple and strong graphics speaks to a handmade process, where fine details take a back seat to bigger issues of clarity, and the least amount of colours is the usual choice. It’s also no surprise the duo’s large text-based aesthetic has attracted the attention of Penguin Books, for which Doublenaut is now designing covers. The company also has branched out into logo design, magazine illustration, and T-shirts, but for Matt, his favourite jobs still involve working with musicians. “It’s something I like doing and that I’ll always want to do,” he says. “It’s fun to find a band and figure out what they’re about by hearing their music, and then making something that hopefully their fans will love.”