• Corknoticeboard
  • Artists-with-the-word-art-in-their-name
  • Foodparcel
  • Kebabbox
  • Passiveaggressive
  • Untitled_bic_
  • Untitled-_floor_
  • Polycup
Graphic Design

Alastair Levy

Posted by Will Hudson,

Up until a week ago I was totally unaware of Alastair Levy’s work. Having graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2008 with an MA in photography, Alastair’s work isn’t necessarily what you’d expect from a photographer (for all the right reasons). We had to find out more…

Can you tell us a bit more about your background?

In terms of my background and how it might inform what I’m doing now there are perhaps a few experiences that have contributed to my present outlook (outside of my educational history). I was an obsessive drawer growing up, and until about the age of 18 was consumed by the idea of creating things that were as accurate a representation of reality as I could achieve. I think this had something to do with a desire for order.

After my foundation I took a year out and spent several months teaching English in a Tibetan buddhist monastery in India. Whilst I am by no means a buddhist, or religious at all, there are definitely aspects of my personality that feel in some way aligned with aspects of that faith; quiet, contemplative.

There are also one or two jobs that I have done which have probably influenced my interests in the everyday. I worked as a facilitator to a man with cerebral palsy for 18 months and that definitely has had an impact on how I view things. Driving a van, painting and decorating are two others.

And what about your formal education?

Perhaps the most significant thing, doing a BA and MA in Photography. I think that the way that photography is taught and has been subsumed into the fine art context over the last 15/20 years is quite strange in a way. In the 60s and 70s you had artists using photography in a very functional way to convey various conceptual ideas. Then in the late 80s and since there has been this kind of fascination with surface and image quality; and also the coherence of structure – a series of images held together by a very rigorous visual code. There is this kind of glossiness with a lot of what falls into the ‘fine art photography’ bracket which I think is quite boring. I also had this sense throughout my years at college that as a discipline photography relies far more heavily on theory than other media, using it almost as a crutch. But always referencing the same five writers. I began to think that surely there could be other influences that could be important in making work, things outside of thoery/photography/fine art altogether. So I think the desire to put some humour back into the work and perhaps try to be a bit more intuitive was a reaction against what I saw as a particularly dry approach to making. And also I realised that the idea was more important than the medium. A thought process would not necessarily lead you to a photograph.

How would you describe your work.

I would describe my work as a quiet subversion of the everyday. I think a lot of it has to do with creating some kind of order (like the Untitled (Bic) piece. A lot of the pieces are simply the result/realisation of a quite instantaneous thought process. Most of the ideas I have seem incredibly obvious once I’ve thought of them but can take quite a long time to come about. I often have particular objects lying around in my studio for months and months before it becomes clear how to make use of them.

Having studied photography but not producing solely photographic work, where do you draw inspiration and reference?

The artists that I am inspired by include Martin Creed, Ceal Floyer, Hreinn Fridfinnson, Donald Judd, and David Batchelor. I think the one thing that links all of these artists is a clarity of vision and execution. There is no excess, everything is reduced to the most essential information/form.

What are you working on at the moment and what can we expect in the near future?

I made a book yesterday using an online publishing website called ‘blurb’. Its a collection of about 20 images from my digital camera mostly of various experiments I’ve carried out in my sudio/flat. I’m not sure that it’s a piece exactly but I think it will help me to clarify something about my processes and take a step forward with the work. The other most recent piece I’ve made is called Uncrumpled (nod to rauschenberg). I bought one of Martin Creed’s Work no. 88 (crumpled ball of A4 paper) which is an unlimited edition you can buy for £150. I just uncrumpled it and ironed it flat and put it in a frame. It’s a kind of contemporary enactment of Rauschenberg’s homage to de Kooning in his Erased de Kooning Drawing.

Wh-300

Posted by Will Hudson

Will founded It’s Nice That in 2007 and is now director of the company. Once one of the main contributors to the site he has stepped back from writing as the business has expanded. He is a regular guest on the Studio Audience podcast.

Most Recent: Graphic Design View Archive

  1. Stationary

    Hotel branding can so often be a dowdy affair, as if the design nods to the temporary nature of the building’s inhabitants – something to move on from, rather than to dwell on. So it’s wonderful to see a brave, opulent new identity for the Connaught in London’s Mayfair, designed by The Partners around a stunning new artwork by Kristjana S Williams which now hangs in the hotel.

  2. List

    I was surprised to learn that Amsterdam’s HOAX studio don’t seem to have been on the site before, and faced with their wide-ranging portfolio it was a challenge to focus in on a narrative that made sense. Founders Bram Buijs, Sven Gerhardt and Steven van der Kaaij joined forces based on their “shared love for typography, material and experimentation” and this passion for fresh creative thinking runs throughout their work.

  3. List

    Creating a cohesive identity for a design conference might not seem like such a tall order, but the reality of producing flyers, bags, programmes and that all-important logo mark for an international event isn’t as simple as you might think. For starters there’s an abundance of conferences out there, each with it’s own unique look and feel, so creating visuals that present a point of difference will always pose a challenge; secondly how on earth do you make a talks timetable look exciting?

  4. List

    Boasting PVC-clad bottoms, surreal jazz photography and beautifully-rendered risograph prints of basketball hoops, Shabazz Projects’ homepage certainly offers a well-curated and striking experience. The LA-based publishing platform was founded by Hassan Rahim and Brian Okarski, releasing art, photography and design-focused books and objects, all with a run of 200 or fewer editions. Stand-out pieces include the Various Basketball Hoops risographs, which put a whimsical spin on these often weary-looking monoliths; and Eric Wrenn and Antje Peters’ Jazz photographs, which place instruments against a dramatic plume of smoke. Hassan and Brian say their aim is to “provoke and surprise,” and from the images on their site alone, they’re certainly not letting themselves down.

  5. Hellotalja_kit-list-image

    Many a blue-sky-thinker and envelope-pusher has been extolling the virtues of meditation and mindfulness to pseudo-spiritually swell their business jargon lately. So it’s refreshing when a beautifully branded, creatively-minded product emerges that promises to offer that lucrative “pause from modern life.”

  6. List

    If all the magazines and small publications that used the internet as their subject matter were dumped on your head it’d be curtains for you – there’s bloody loads of them. Some, like Offscreen, deal with the people that make digital culture happen and try to bring these unsung heroes out from behind their screens into the RGB limelight, others, like French publication Nichons – Nous Dans l’Internet (Tits – We In The Internet) are more conceptually-minded, analysing and assessing the social and cultural phenomena brought about by the ubiquity of technology.

  7. Main

    Setting up a design studio and changing your name to a cool pseudonym is a good two-fingers-up to life on the quiet side. Parisian designer Julien Ducourthial decided to make this leap, and now overseas The Jazzist, offering bold, fluoro design work “serving in fields of graphic design, illustration and art direction in digital & printed media.” When Julien emailed us he told us he was inspired by 8-bit imagery and cartoons, which gave us an immediate inkling that we were going to like his work. Anyone looking to commission a great French designer any time soon? Julien is your man.

  8. List

    We haven’t featured Oslo-based studio Heydays on the site for a while but a quick check-in with their portfolio shows they’re still producing top-quality work for an eclectic range of clients. Nöra is a design house based between London and São Paulo which among other things supplied the seats for the World Cup stadia in Brazil. Heydays wanted a look and feel that felt “sophisticated with a stylish twist.” The pointillist type treatment pulls this off neatly and there’s some impressive animated elements you can see below as well. Keep up the great work team Heydays!

  9. List

    When it comes to a trendy commission, a restaurant in east London that serves everything on the bone is right up there. Credit is due then to Burgess Studio, whose identity for the eatery doesn’t take itself too seriously. Built around a nice typographic wordmark and the simple idea of making the all-important bone into a smile, the look and feel rolls out seamlessly across everything from bags to cups, menus to the website. It’s simple, it’s striking and it steers well clear of some kind of terrible hipster overload, all of which is to be very much commended.

  10. List

    It’s been a while since we last checked in with Stockholm-based Bedow studio but there’s a host of new work to enjoy over on their site as ever. I was particularly drawn to their ongoing collaboration with Essem Design, “a Swedish manufacturer of artisanal hallway interiors.” Bedow used a refreshingly straightforward way in to what might seem like rather a niche product, building an identity around the Swedish words for “hello” and “goodbye” – the utterances most commonly heard in a hallway.

  11. List

    Producing graphic collateral for one of the world’s largest international contemporary art fairs is a brief that would have some graphic design studios quaking in their boots, but when London-based Studio Frith was approached by Frieze Art Fair they accepted with relish.

  12. List

    “Churn out” always sounds like a derisive expression when referring to exceptional creative work, but the prolific nature of some studios means it’s the only one I like to use use to conjure up the relentless mechanical precision with which these studios proceed – and I definitely don’t mean it derisively. And so to Praline, the products of whose churning we’re here to admire.

  13. List

    For graphic design types, the opportunity to run wild with a printer’s various techniques is pretty much the dream brief, and Mexican agency Anagrama have well and truly lived that dream. They were one of seven agencies studios invited to create a notebook with Imprimerie du Marais, and they were given free rein to experiment with effects like hot foil stamping, microembossing, silk screening and sewn binding.