• 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. Nbstudio-almeida-int-list

    It’s often the case with design work that the final outcome is quite different in scope to the original brief. So it was for NB Studio, which was originally asked by the Almeida Theatre in London for a brand review and refresh. After what the studio calls “an intensive period of immersion and briefing sessions,” the NB team came back with a more wide-ranging proposal – “It was clear then that this was to be a bold re-brand rather than mere cosmetic enhancement,” they say.

  2. Vg_alphabeta_04

    About seven years ago Village Green produced a series of iconic posters for London’s infamous Fabric nightclub… and then we haven’t checked up on them since. Poor form on our part as they’ve been busy expanding, improving and creating work for bigger and better clients. Currently it seems they’re specialising in architectural branding for commercial property developments, cladding the Alphabeta redevelopment in Finsbury Square, London and The Bonhill Building office spaces on Old Street. Of course they’ve done other stuff too; like the identity and exhibition design for Jean Paul Gaultier’s Barbican show and Nike’s 2013 Hypervenom campaign, but frankly there’s just too much stuff to cover in one article. We’ll be sure to keep closer tabs on these guys in future.

  3. Quimmarin-posters-int-list

    Barcelona-based designer and art director Quim Marin has a strong visual sensibility and a prolific work-rate if scrolling through his site is anything to go by. There’s a load of impressive poster and other print design on there, with particularly effective use of some trendy tropes which can often feel stale in less talented hands. “In such a visually polluted environment I try to come up with fresh and memorable designs with a clear aim at essential beauty and equilibrium that, at the same time, will ensure communicative effectiveness,“ Quim says by way of a mission statement, and it’s hard to sum up his work better than that.

  4. Chevalvert-int-list-2

    You wade into Chevalvert’s portfolio rubbing your hands across your eyes, unsure of what you’ve stumbled across. The Paris-based studio was founded in 2007 by Patrick Paleta and Stéphane Buellet and describes itself as being based on an “open, multidisciplinary approach,” which might go some way to explaining why it feels like a cave laden with treasures. So many treasures.

  5. Fantastic-man-list

    Fantastic Man magazine has been redesigned, as shown in its teaser image of its tenth anniversary issue. The magazine’s new issue cover star JW Anderson has shown the new cover on Instagram, which reveals a new design seeing the masthead run vertically and horizontally, instead of its previous preluder horizontal configuration. The cover image also runs to both sides, moving away from its previous white-edged format. We’re excited to see what changes might have been made to the inside of the mag…

  6. Dwp-bikestock-int-list

    This morning I had a puncture that I couldn’t fix and had to get the train to work, so it feels timely to be writing about Bikestock, a range of vending machines full of cycling essentials that can be found all over New York and Boston. The concept is a simple one; inner tubes, spanners, tyre levers tyres and any number of other little bits and pieces that make your wheels turn smoothly are boshed into a vending machine so you can grab them on the go and, more importantly, at any time of day!

  7. List

    Joost Bos is a recent graduate from the Academie Minerva Groningen in The Netherlands where he’s spent three years studying for his bachelor’s degree. Like many of his Dutch counterparts he’s a dab hand with typography both traditional and experimental and has a plethora of printed pieces in his portfolio. This one, Sequence 1, is an exhibition catalogue for a show of artist books at Joost’s alma mater, which perfectly demonstrates his design sensibilities. Immaculately set type is interspersed with hand-drawn elements and bright colours bring intrigue to an otherwise monochrome publication. Like what you’re seeing? He’s available for freelance work right now!

  8. Sam-coldy-penguin-int-list

    Is it just me or is Penguin killing it at the moment? The publishing house only recently celebrated its 80th birthday by launching a range of its classic titles for 80p each, accompanied by a slick website and a poster campaign which has reached even the furthest corners of London’s transport system. And right now, they’re in the midst of a new campaign called On the Page which celebrates women authors and characters in literary masterpieces.

  9. Karansingh-mop-int-list

    The glorious coming together of pattern, shape and colour makes for a joyous experience and that’s why print designers are held in such high regard. Last week we commissioned Animade to turn three eye-poppingly good Pucci x Orlebar Brown patterns into trippy GIFs, this week we’re turning our attention to profiling creatives we believe are among the best around when it comes to working in this area. We are proud to present these #mastersofprint.

  10. Gerard-marin-int-list

    There’s something of a trend going around at the moment for identities using 3D logo-marks, and with this one by Gerard Marin we can see why. Barcelona-based designer Gerard developed the branding, stationery and corporate materials for interior designer and visual merchandiser Neus Ortiz. Recognisability and malleability were at the forefront of his mind for this project, and the flexible “N,” which changes according to its application, prove a neat solution to both. His is an unfussy aesthetic which lends itself perfectly to branding projects – here’s hoping more make their way to him very soon.

  11. Nike-logo

    There’s a moment in this film where Michael Bierut comes over all Hayley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense as he declares: “ I can see things in typefaces that normal people can’t.” It’s part of his discussion about how “design can be a lonely thing” and that as you immerse yourself in that world “you’re actually making yourself less normal than regular people.” Filmed at Design Indaba in South Africa last month, this interesting short film moves onto to look at logos and why designers are so interested in them. Using famous examples like the Nike swoosh and the Target, um, target, Michael explains his theory that we’re drawn to them because they’re primitive and yet we invest them with so much meaning. “A lot of what we see when we’re looking at the logo isn’t really happening in the logo; it happens in our own mind,” he explains.

  12. Emilyoberman-snl-int-hero

    One of the undoubted highlights of this year’s Design Indaba conference in Cape Town was hearing Pentagram partner Emily Oberman detail her long-running work on Saturday Night Live. Emily has worked with the programme for 20 years, creating three separate versions of its identity, various title sequences and even spoof adverts to run in the breaks (like this). Now Emily has teamed up with writer Alison Castle to produce Saturday Night Live: The Book, a 500-page paean to the show which coincides with its 40th anniversary this autumn.

  13. Studio-lin-stampa-int-list

    Sometimes a dead simple idea is all you need to create something really striking. In the case of Studio Lin’s branding of Stampa that simple idea was a rolled up poster. Stampa specialise in limited edition prints produced by some of the best illustrators around – shipped direct to your door. How do they do this? By rolling them up in a poster tube. So what does their logo look like? A pair of rolled-up prints joined at their edges to form an S. Studio Lin also commissioned an entire custom typeface for the brand, but for me it’s that swirling blue S that hits the nail on the head every time. Simple!