• _mg_2452lo

    Peepshow Collective (Pic by Jere Salonen)

  • _mg_2473lo

    Peepshow Collective (Pic by Jere Salonen)

  • _mg_2478lo

    Peepshow Collective (Pic by Jere Salonen)

  • _mg_2476lo

    Peepshow Collective (Pic by Jere Salonen)

  • _mg_2516lo

    Peepshow Collective (Pic by Jere Salonen)

  • _mg_2518lo

    Peepshow Collective (Pic by Jere Salonen)

  • _mg_2521lo

    Peepshow Collective (Pic by Jere Salonen)

  • _mg_2523lo

    Peepshow Collective (Pic by Jere Salonen)

  • _mg_2524lo

    Peepshow Collective (Pic by Jere Salonen)

  • _mg_2526lo

    Peepshow Collective (Pic by Jere Salonen)

  • _mg_2528lo

    Peepshow Collective (Pic by Jere Salonen)

  • _mg_2530lo

    Peepshow Collective (Pic by Jere Salonen)

  • _mg_2532lo

    Peepshow Collective (Pic by Jere Salonen)

  • _mg_2535lo

    Peepshow Collective (Pic by Jere Salonen)

Illustration

Peepshow Collective

Posted by Rob Alderson,

Once a group of Brighton University graduates with “degrees in illustration and no grand plan” Peepshow has grown to become one of the best-loved creative collectives working today. Their gorgeous new book does not intend to tell that story, rather by focussing on the individual members and their work is encapsulates the spirit and the talent that underpins it. We spoke to four of the members – Miles Donovan, Chrissie MacDonald, Luke Best and Andrew Rae – plus designer Emmi Salonen to find out how you distill more than a decade of work into a single tome.

From the beginning, the challenge for the Peepshow team was to condense down a practice that has never been “a fixed entity” – in terms of members or disciplines – into a cohesive whole. Taking in illustration, animation, set-design, textiles and art direction for a mighty client list including M&C Saatchi, the BBC and The New York Times, plus loads of their own work for exhibitions and publications around the world, the problem for the team was never going to be a lack of work for the book, but working out how to structure it.

Early discussions around chronologies or categories were jettisoned so as not to “impose a false sense of order onto a process that is often more messy than planned,” as the book’s introduction puts it.

In fact it goes further than that as Luke explains: “We realised that we do not have that linear way of working and that is our strength.”

“So in terms of structure we just sat there and tried to find connections between pieces of work,” Miles adds. “It could be as much as: ‘This person collaborates with this person,’ but we got down to saying things like: ‘Chrissie is married to Andrew…’

“There is a logic but it’s our logic,” Luke says, and they credit Emmi with bringing the work together through her elegant, restrained design.

An early decision was taken that they didn’t want the final book to cost any more than £25 and this filtered down into every decision from the number of pages to the paper stock (which had to be changed after supplies of the first choice were wiped out in the Japanese Tsunami).

Each member was given a set number of pages to fill and was responsible for selecting their own work, but again this wasn’t always straightforward, as Andrew says: “Everyone had their own ideas of what they wanted other people to put in.”

While some of them reached back 12 years to find work they wanted to use, others chose from a much more recent pool, and finding that the collective input was invaluable in shaping the final decisions, that process too became a public one.

“We had little crits,” says Chrissie. “It was the first time since college we have done that.”

The team wanted the book to serve as an introduction to Peepshow for people who don’t know their work, but were determined to add enough depth to satisfy those more familiar with the collective. They were also determined not to try and give a blueprint for success, and there’s genuine humility that their way of doing things is only one among many.

Full of praise for their publisher and obviously delighted with the finished article, is there anything they feel is missing? Original plans to include more rough drafts, references etc were scuppered by copyright laws and Luke says the only thing he would change is to focus a little less on their finished products. “I think overall what is missing is the stuff we are interested in outside of work – it does not show the other bits of our personalities.”

Emmi admits that she avoided a tough decision by having everyone choose something for the front cover, and the call on whether to include individual names was also settled by the designer: “I said to put their names on the front because the layout works better!”

Having a designer who knew them all personally and works out of their east London studio was clearly a great help, because as Chrissie said: “We could just prod her in the back with a big stick if we saw her doing something we didn’t like.”

She’s joking (I think!) but there’s no doubt this is a seriously good way to mark ten years of Peepshow, much more than a greatest hits, it’s a considered, colourful, stylish way to link the group’s past, present and future. Here’s to the next ten years guys!

The book, which includes a foreword from our own Alex Bec will be available at this year’s Pick Me Up or online here

Ra

Posted by Rob Alderson

Editor-in-Chief Rob oversees editorial across all three It’s Nice That platforms; online, print and events. He has a background in newspaper journalism and a particular interest in art, advertising and photography. He is the main host of the Studio Audience podcast.

Most Recent: Animation View Archive

  1. Artandgraft-thewalk-itsnicethat-list

    I sometimes feel like animators have things pretty tough. There they are, working slavishly away until the wee hours of the morning making still imagery appear to move naturally and by the end of the day what do they have to show for it? About five seconds worth of footage. Gruelling stuff!

  2. Schooloflife-love-itsnicethat-list

    The School of Life’s raison d’etre is to develop emotional intelligence in its audience, meaning they’re experienced in being confrontational with philosophical thought. But their latest short film is even more challenging than we’ve come to expect. In it we’re told repeatedly that love is an illusion and we’re all painfully and unavoidably alone. Then just as the weight of this message sinks in we’re asked to forget about the whole thing and get on with our lives as we were. Emotional rollercoaster!

  3. Montypython-itsnicethat-main

    I had forgotten the majesty of The Galaxy Song until this morning when Stephen Hawking decided to cover it in honour of Monty Python’s stage show. The rascal has recorded his version of the beautifully written song which is accompanied by an endearingly shit little video featuring him on his wheelchair whizzing off into the cosmos as he sings.

  4. Beach-bums-itsnicethat-list

    Beach Bums by The Great Nordic Sword Fights is the kind of animation that should come with some kind of a warning – and not because it contains any illicit materials, just because it feels something like Spongebob Squarepants on acid. Created by director duo Ricky Jonsson Jr and Kristel Brinshot for an episode of American cable network Adult Swim’s Off the Air, it features a motley crew of hairy psychedelic creatures surfing wildly through a tropical ocean to a digital soundtrack by Groundislava, interrupted only by the pursuit of what might be a giant poo floating through the ocean.

  5. Hands-int-7-list

    Nicolas Herenstein’s Hands animation studio specialises in bright, bold vector animations, typically used for advertising and informing. Need to tell the world to get on social media for the duration of the Tour de France? Hands’ll do it. Want to encourage people to vote in the next election? Call Hands. Or maybe you’ve got a museum dedicated to the Olympics that you’d appreciate some visitors for. Not a problem; Hands has got it covered, and they’ll probably make your customers chuckle a bit too!

  6. Animade-propz-int-list

    “Ball sack!” reads the intro to this great new video for Animade, though it’s so gorgeous it didn’t even need something that puerile to lure us in. The film showcases the results of the studio’s Propz project, which sees it create an animation based around a prop suggested by the public. As such, the topics range from the pedestrian (fridges, shoelaces) to the surreal and phallic (wizard wand) and the rude – our aforementioned Ball Sack. All ten of the Propz pieces in one animation makes for a superb piece of work; charming, baffling, hilarious and utterly compelling. Our heart goes out to the sticky-taped cats at the end. We’re sure they’ll be just fine…

  7. Beakus-philippa-perry-int-list

    It’s been an impressive fortnight at Beakus HQ with great animations coming thick and fast from their team of directors. Last week we lapped up their exploration of the origins of the Magna Carta for the British Museum, in which Gergely Wootsch’s drawings were expertly combined with Terry Jones’ distinctive voice.

  8. Beakus-bl-14-int

    With a voiceover from Monty Python’s Terry Jones, Beakus’ animation commemorating the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta takes us back to mediaeval England and Bad King John. Commissioned by the British Library for their exhibition Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy, the animation was inspired by the colours and motifs in mediaeval ornaments and tells the story of our origins of liberty through jiggly paper and characters with bulbous bodies and tiny heads.

  9. Dischi-list-2

    The idea of an archive conjures up images of dusty shelves and forgotten artefacts, but in the case of Emilio Pucci, nothing could be further from the truth. The Italian fashion brand is renowned for its vibrant geometric prints and now three of them are being given a new lease of life thanks to an eye-catching collaboration with Orlebar Brown.

  10. Californiasunday-markmothersbaugh-int-main

    When you hear the words “branded content” you probably don’t get that excited, right? Well, times are changing. No longer do brands want to settle for something that isn’t going to whet the imagination of an audience, and so they’re recruiting fantastic creatives and partnering with cool platforms to make it actually worth everyone’s time. With this in mind, check out this pretty breathtaking animation created by Google Play in collaboration with Creative Sunday.

  11. Josephmann-int-1

    Remember that really racy animation about loads of people getting it on by the seaside? Well the guy behind it – 2009 It’s Nice That Graduate and now BlinkInk director Joseph Mann – is back with a fantastic new animation which is just as well-made, but maybe features less pubic hair. This time around, Joe has helped put together a music video for a band called Police Dog Hogan, featuring a crowd of ne’er do wells in a scummy old boozer, watching the band perform. In true Young Ones style, we are taken below the floorboards to where the rats live, and watch as they begin drinking the beer sloshed on the floor by the humans above. Fantastic animation by Joe, and a pretty high-quality, entertaining music video for a song that is essentially a love letter to the West Country.

  12. Davidgalasse-skate-int-main-

    Fun little short here from animator Antonio Vicentini with a little help from Brazilian designer David Galasse. Using a load of fluoro squiggles and some very good animating skills, the duo has put together an informative film about the history of skateboarding. A lot of people make projects about skating, but hardly anyone can pull off a five-minute-long animation about it without showing anyone actually skateboarding. That’s why this works so well: they went for the relaxed, rebellious vibe rather than just showing someone jump down some steps in a barren shopping mall, and it’s way more interesting for it. David actually designed a typeface especially, but the rest of the visuals were just stolen off the internet – which is just the icing on the cake. Great voiceover, too.

  13. Wongping-doggylove-int

    You know what it’s like when you’re of that age, when even the sight of certain pieces of fruit and veg can turn you on faster than you can say “wet dream.” Cantonese animator Wong Ping decided to take all of the cosmic lust he felt as a teenage boy, and channel it all into one seriously hot animation made exclusively for NOWNESS. Watch as a teenage boy becomes intensely obsessed with a girl in his class whose bosom is on her back, until he can take it no longer and starts placing objects in-between and and top of them without her noticing. Things get racy, then racier, but because it’s produced in Wong’s happy, colourful style, seeing people have sex and jerk off in the toilet isn’t even that weird. You know what is weird, though? Wong Ping’s interview over on NOWNESS, in which he says the first time he had a crush on a classmate he “sniffed inside her school bag and tried to lick her books. I was ashamed of myself and have suppressed my emotions ever since.” Okay…