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Remember your Roots!

Matt Cockayne

A brief history of Goo Design

3 Years ago I made the bold decision to go into the unknown and go self-employed as an independent artist, leaving my run of the mill graphic design job with a guaranteed monthly salary, paid holidays, paid sickness when needed, plus the joys of seeing your co-workers 70% of the week. 

Little did I know that working on your own can at times be as lonely as maybe being stuck in the wilderness with no company you can quickly loose focus on your objective and find yourself wasting time on social media to find some solace.

Back in 2014 I took that jump and it hasn't been smooth sailing all the way but it has been a lot more rewarding than working for a boss man and not being as appreciated and valued as you maybe think you should be. 

I for one have had difficulties in employment and on my way to starting Goo I went through 7 different companies little to my knowledge the skills I deemed pointless I now use every day at Goo. 

Over the years my style of art has developed as I have gained new skills, you never stop learning. 

Where it began

Leaving school in 2000 with pretty poor grades my favourite subject being art I scraped a measly C grade creating a piece of art influenced by Gatecrasher "Whom I have recently collaborated with" my art teacher told my parents I would never make anything of myself and don't have the discipline to succeed in art "eat your words "Mr Spall!"

So with little confidence and vision of what I wanted to do for a living, I decided to enrol into a BTEC sign writing and graphics course at Castle College in Sheffield and this is where I totally excelled and absolutely loved it. 

Learning design packages, hand sign writing, paint finishing, sand blasting, glass blowing, spray painting as well as many other skills I actually completed the course 4 months earlier than the rest of the class. 

If anybody is leaving school feeling undervalued then go to college you will soon find your feet and grow into yourself then excel.


I left college in 2002 now fully primed and ready to work with a new found respect for my future and was determined to make something of myself.

My first job came as a sign maker for Beach Signs in Sheffield, I'm from Halfway so it was easy to get to on the tram although I was often late and didn't impress the owner Mr Dyson in my first week when I was still reading the Sun "wouldn't read that trash these days" 5 minutes after lunch. 

I was working with a lot of heavy machinery cutting aluminium sheets to be fabricated into box signs and either powder coated on Shepcote Ln and spray painted in-house which was one thing I was responsible for. 

I must admit I wasn't very great at the job I was 18 and only wanted to design but as most young people don't realise it isn't handed to you on a plate and you need to work for it, proof your worth it and then if you're lucky enough it will happen. 

Most Monday's I would be late for work, hung over from a standard epic weekend with the lads doing a lot of clock watching while flame polishing acrylic letters for signage which is a skill I have recently backtracked to while making the MySheffield acrylic Hendo's Bottles. 

I didn't last long at Beach, Mr Dyson had me in the office one day and basically said it wasn't going to work either way, to the words "Matt you're a nice lad but I don't think you're cut out for this work". Not directly sacked he did have the decency to give me time to find a new job. Me being young and naive I couldn't see the gesture and took the first job offered to me in the hell hole of Telemarketing, the worst decision of my working life was doing this job, basically there would be some suited bellend with a fake tan and a wide pin-striped suit pretending to be a self-made millionaire feeding you a daily dosage of bull shit to hopefully at some point line his own pockets with a share of your hard work trying to sell gas and electricity, something had to give. 

One day I went in with a slight five o'clock shadow and Mr St Tropez handed me a razor and told me to either have a shave or leave... I went to Amsterdam

Lucky for me my mum worked at the council and there was some jobs going in the council tax department so I applied for a position and started the following week. 

I must admit working in a call centre wasn't what I had in mind but it was a million times better than working for the ten-bob millionaire in his R reg BMW. 

Communication and speaking to the general public either on the phone or on the front desk in a high-pressure environment, by all means, isn't a walk in the park and I have a lot of respect for people that do this on a day to day basis as most of the time your dealing with a high rate stress head that's had a red letter day. 

I worked at the council tax office for 2-3 years and left as a bit of a legend for being the youngest grumpy old man to ever walk through the door of Howden House. 

I had an itch to get back into print and design and a new door opened. 

Bluetree Design : Print Finisher Needed...

The add was like the Vegas sign to a gambling addict, Do I leave the Council where most people have a job for life or take the gamble of a 3k pay cut and pursue the dream once more? 

I'm no civil servant I need to create it's in my blood, there is always something different to do in this job, a new challenge every day and a new skill gained at Blue Tree. 

Up at 5.30 for the 6.15am bus into Pond Street and onto the connecting bus to Bessemer Way, Rotherham for 8 am and never ever late not even on the day of the historic floods I was there. 

I had a new air of gratitude to be given a route back in and I excelled at the job, moved up the ladder and ended up with a lot more responsibility running a CNC cutting machine.

Finally, I was able to use a computer and express my inner designer.

The Rock n Roll days of old!

The early starts and late finishes took their toll on me and I was getting fed up of falling asleep on buses daily I saw a print job at a company which was a lot closer to Halfway so I went for an interview and was offered the job there and then. I was treated well at Bluetree, both my grandparents passed away while I worked there within 2 weeks of each other and they totally made sure I was treated like a human and given time needed to get my head right, total respect for them. 

Not the worse job I have ever had but the worst company I have ever worked for.

It's always pretty nerve wrecking when you start a new job I don't care who you are you never know what to expect and it takes a few weeks to settle down and figure certain things out like the people, some are decent and mean well, some are there to clock in and clock out, some are there to stir things up and some are there to just try and fit in and get the job done which I would say was my intention when I first started at the new company which I shall not name. 

You're going to be a digital print operative Matt, says your line boss who is loved by everyone apart from me and for good reasons anybody that is just simply high on life has a dark side and I saw the guy as a bit of a clown.

I started pretty well and settled into my new job as a digital print operator which is basically setting up large format printers and maintaining the machines and I quite liked it. 

Personally, I thought I was pretty good at the job until a guy started and the gaffer treated him like a pet and he was more than happy to oblige and be his robot...

This is when things changed.

To be ousted from a position you have worked very hard to get to for 4 years by somebody that has zero experience is very frustrating and I didn't take it well at all. 

I wasn't the model employee I admit that but I always gave it my all and tried above and beyond but was never given any praise which as humans we all need to be given that extra motivation. I was working a lot of overtime for no extra pay or a thank you have a good weekend...

Basically excluded from the team I joined for having an ability to express myself and speak up when most people put their heads down I stood up for myself and a lot of people started to wise up and followed suit...

No employer would ever like a revolutionist in their army of robots and they did their utmost to unsettle me and decided to move on...

Some times your face just doesn't fit.

The "CROWN" jewels

Finally a break into graphics, the dream had arrived I'm now living in Chesterfield and on my way home handed a small piece of paper "Artworker Wanted" the lady driving me says with a twinkle in her eye "Matt you can get that job".

I had been running my own band night with my mate Chris in Sheffield for almost a year and had built up a rather good portfolio of art from gig posters to logos I had created for local bands so I suited up portfolio in hand and off I went to Crown Products, the greatest company I have ever had the pleasure to work for. 

The open night of my band night Monkey Rocks

I had an interview with a fella called Chris Fox, a lovely bloke that knew his way around a Mac like a mechanic a car. I had to do a small challenge which was to redraw a logo and another to re-word a document and set some artwork ready for print, applying bleed were needed and crop marks etc. 

I was offered the job on a second interview I actually cried with joy and jumped around the living room, phoned my mum and dad "I got it I'm a graphic designer".

My life changed that day, at Crown I was given the freedom to express myself as an artist, respected by the owner and management and genuinely treat for the first time like an asset to the company which had a lot of potential rather than an employee. I totally excelled in my new role and learnt a lot of skills which put me in the perfect position to set up Goo. 

I had a relationship breakdown whilst working at Crown after the birth of my son and they really looked after me as I was rather depressed. My team leader picked me up and dropped me home after work, made sure I was eating and integrated me into the group of lads in the factory and they really did take good care of me it was like working with your brothers, I got a new house and they all helped me furnish my home and gave me toys for my son as I couldn't rub two brass buttons together. 

After a while, I got my head straight and met Lynsey, now "Mrs Cockayne"

Mr Wife Lynsey and Son Luka

and on that day for the second time, my life changed. You see Lynsey is a graphic designer with a bag full of experience she has been running her own company for over ten years and inspired me to follow suit but in the field of art... 

If it wasn't for Lynsey I wouldn't be an artist today. 

I had just got a new Mac upgrade at Crown and Roger the company owner asked me if I would like to buy my old Mac from the company, still living from hand to mouth I mentioned it to Lynsey and she bought it me for £200 it still works to this day.

I wanted some art in the house so I decided rather than buying some I would set out and draw my own which I did. The first artwork I ever created was two collections of art called Captain Hendo which was superhero based and Attack of the Hendo's which was a series of buildings in Sheffield with relish being blasted into them. 

Early art acknowledged by Henderson's Relish and Jon McClure.

I sent the prints to Mr Freeman at Hendo's and they liked them, they gave me permission to sell my art and there you go Goo was born

Over the past 3 years, I have sold over 5000 products from signed originals to reproduced limited edition prints, clothing, phone cases, cushions, canvases and mugs as well as taking part in numerous events such as last years Herd of Sheffield in which I created my beloved Hendophant.

My creation Hendophant, I loved this project.

I set a list of goals when i set out from being published in a book "Henderson's Relish Cook Book and The Herd guide" to designing a beer pump clip which I have recently created for Kelham Island Brewery Nationwide, as well as many others to date I have hit every target I set to date I now have some new milestones set, for a lad whose art teacher said he wouldn't succeed in the world of art I think isn't a bad effort. 

My most recent project was to create a bespoke piece of art to celebrate 40 years of World Snooker at the Crucible in Sheffield, something I was honoured to be selected for.

I have written this as most people think Goo is a company of many people which it is not it is simply myself working in my home studio with my wife, hand drawing, printing and packaging every order by hand and taking it to the post office with the same pride I had back in 2014 when I sold my first ever piece of art.

The skills I gained in all those jobs set me up for what is today! I will continue to create and appreciate everyone that has visited my website and liked my media post.

Please take a trip down to the Moor Market to view my public art display on the interior and exterior of the building.

Hope you enjoyed my story, my feet will remain firmly on the ground, just a working class lad that's worked hard.

Much love









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  • Lisa Frost on

    love this Matt! and your miners picture is hung proudly in our conservatory, you have a true talent, well done hun x

  • Caroline H on

    Just read your story & was almost audibly cheering towards the end. You sound like lots of Sheffield lads. Spirited & feisty…but not all have a dream, and you did, and yours came true. Amazing. Well done from a fellow proud Sheffield lass. I’ll deffo be purchasing something when I too get back on my feet ??

  • Sue cockayne on

    Wonderful testment you have written matt. I and your dad had many sleepless nights when you decided to end your employment with crown productions. You have worked hard with goo design and now well known for your outstanding artwork. Thank you to lynsey for giving you the confidence to believe in how talented you are. Very proud proud of you and your artwork is amazing and people just love every design you create.

  • Mark Turner on

    Liked your story Matt, I also started out at a sign company (woollens Signs) and knew John Dyson from there, small world I guess. Keep going with your great artwork.

  • Lynsey Cockayne on

    Lovely piece… proud of you x

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