“I want to keep doing rave flyers forever”: Alfie Allen on his graphic design portfolio
After a six-year stint at Crack magazine, Alfie now works full-time at XL Recordings and Young Turks. We caught up to hear more about his journey.
- Ayla Angelos
- 21 January 2020
Alfie Allen refers to himself as someone who fits the “typical paradox” of a graphic designer. A phrase given because of his artist mother and builder father who, in turn, have had a great influence on the work that he produces as a creative. “I definitely feel torn between artistry and pragmatism,” Alfie tells It’s Nice That, “but I guess the hope is that it’s a healthy tension rather than a conflict of interests.” Additionally, he cites art director Alex McCullough, who referred to himself as a “recovering perfectionist” – a term which Alfie thought was a "neat way to put it".
As with many in the field, Alfie began his journey to graphic design with event posters. Bristol-raised, he would also spend much of his youth clubbing underage, “I just thought it was the coolest thing and wanted to contribute in any way I possibly could to this incredible phenomena,” he says, recalling an experience that most certainly defined his graphic style to come. “Hopefully, no matter where I end up with my practice, I want to keep doing rave flyers forever – I feel like if I were to stop then something bad might happen.”
This ethos transpires into a portfolio filled with experimental, typographically led and music-related content including magazine covers, various poster projects and event identities. Alfie also calls himself “lucky” for having got into Camberwell College of Arts in 2010, after which he found himself at an internship for Crack magazine for six years, working his way up to designer, art director and creative director – “it was nothing short of fucking brilliant,” he says. “This definitely galvanised design and music for me – I was a lot more optimistic about culture and I think six years sitting next to total music freaks really gave me some perspective on authenticity in art,” ringing true to the saying that those closest to you can profoundly impact the work that you create.
At present, Alfie has transitioned from his noteworthy stint at Crack and now works full-time at record labels XL Recordings and Young Turks. His usual day is quite hectic, due to the nature of the industry and the particular environment which he finds himself in – be it magazines, record labels and “cheap co-working spaces”. It’s true that Alfie may look back on this period of his life and question “what was I doing?” But one thing’s for sure: he cherishes the moments and conversations he’s had with the non-visual people that he’s worked with. “Frustrating as it can be, I’m sure that just speaking to people within the sphere of visual production can’t be that healthy either.”
Previous works include the iconic King Krule cover of Crack, with photographer Joshua Gordon snapping a dual-facing image of the musician holding a ghostly and rather serious mask to the side; another cover sees a portrait of American rapper Pusha T and Swedish singer-songwriter Fever Ray. However, his recent endeavours are more wide-reaching. This can be seen in a recent website identity for Trip, a publishing platform founded by photographer Dean Davies (who also released the Manchester Girls series of late) in which Alfie also designed the book’s identity. What’s more, Alfie created the artwork for English musician Låpsley’s EP, These Elements, a bold typographic identity paired with a striking photograph of an eye, shot by Maisie Cousins.
In terms of the projects that Alfie tends to gravitate towards, these usually take form in something music-related or one chosen for its merit or ethos. “In an optimistic dreamscape,” he says, “I’d like to be totally lateral in what I work on in the sense that it’s chosen or accepted based on its core values. To bootleg the classic: form should ideally follow feeling, although function is probably important too.” Furthermore, his main points of inspiration rest in his experiences – those that allow him the time to learn about things “first hand.” Alfie adds: “It’s amazing what activities you can pass off as research when you put your mind to it – going raving and having decent conversations with people that you normally wouldn’t is definitely research.”
Future plans behold many exciting projects for XL and Young Turks in the pipeline. Of course, all of which are confidential and unable to be shared yet. But rest assured he’s one to keep an eye on. Oh, and he’s set to open a furniture shop in 2030.
About the Author
Ayla is a London-based freelance writer, editor and consultant specialising in art, photography, design and culture. After joining It’s Nice That in 2017 as editorial assistant, she was interim online editor in 2022/2023 and continues to work with us on a freelance basis. She has written for i-D, Dazed, AnOther, WePresent, Port, Elephant and more, and she is also the managing editor of design magazine Anima.