Sleek vintage cars, mousetrap swings, chance encounters with rainbows and days out at the races all feature in the varied portfolio of Tristan Cluett, a recent graduate from Kingston University. He’s spent three years immersing himself in his medium, getting out in the field to shoot cyclists in action or creating polished sets in the studio to provide backdrops for his unusual ideas. What seems key to the success of Tristan’s work is his openness to experimentation – he’s not content to be a one-trick pony – and the level of polish he applies to every one of his projects.
He was out in Le Mans last week, shooting the Classic 24, but still had time to answer a few questions for us…
Why or who or what made you go to art school?
I probably have to thank Adobe Photoshop for that. Around the age of 12 I used to sit on it for ages in the evenings editing images of cars and turning them into insane racing machines with massive wheels. I moved on to creating websites on Dreamweaver and doing flyers for my Dad’s business. I now try to stay as far away from the entire Adobe suite as possible – I much prefer using my brain and my hands, thinking of an idea and then making it.
Tell us about your best project
All my projects have such different purposes and outcomes that I don’t think there could be a best one. I do have favourites though; like Karma that I did with my friend Zeus. We took all of the objects that are perceived as having a negative impact on the world and thought about what they would be if they where given a second chance to try and do something good. Mouse traps turned into swings, fishing hooks turned into paper clips and four-pack beer holders reinvented themselves as sexy handcuffs.
Tell us about your worst
In first year you do some ridiculous things, a few of which I look back on and wonder what the hell I was thinking; from nearly pepper spraying the entire studio to trying to hold a massive banner on top of a car park almost pulling me and my friend off the roof. They are all things I have learnt a huge amount from and it has definitely removed any fear I had to try out the silly ideas that I think off, just now I know not to do the dangerous ones.
If you could show one person your portfolio, who would it be and why?
Currently if there was one person I would love to talk to it would be Russell Brand. He may be a controversial choice and although I don’t agree with 100% with everything he says I like the way he thinks and would be interested to get his opinion on my work, on the advertising/design industry and how it can really be changed for the better.
What was the best moment of your three years at uni (extra curricular included)?
The 20th anniversary of Critical Mass was an incredible experience for me. Velo, a project I started to document all of London cycling culture, took me on some crazy rides to some weird shows and to meet some great people, but Critical Mass definitely tops everything I did. The last Friday of every month nearly 1000 cyclists meet up and take over the streets of London; easily the most fun thing I have done in the three years. I have been back every month since.
[University] has made me appreciate everything in life, helped me form strong opinions and completely shaped me into the designer I am today.
A lot is changing – would you recommend art school to someone who is considering going?
Definitely, I have a completely different way of thinking now to when I started. It has made me appreciate everything in life, helped me form strong opinions and completely shaped me into the designer I am today.
Finally, if your dreams come true, where will you be in a year’s time?
I’m not sure on that one. I have never been one for planning but I do have a huge mental list of things I want to do, places I want to go, companies I want to start – like recycling scrap into furniture and building bikes, along with people I want to meet and work with. If that list is starting to become a reality then I would be an extremely happy person.
Supported by Represent
We are very pleased that The It’s Nice That Graduates 2014 will once again be supported by Represent Recruitment. The graphic design recruitment specialists have developed a peerless reputation working with designers of all levels and matching them up with the right positions in some of the top agencies around. Represent’s support has helped us grow the Graduate scheme over recent years and we are thrilled they have partnered with us again in 2014.