Work / Graphic Design

Luke Insect designs a “BMX break up album about teenage love and endless summers”

Following a degree in graphic design and illustration at Newcastle, graphic designer Luke Insect got an art working/tea making, break in London. It was the 90s and his first design jobs were working on record sleeves for the likes of Funkadelic, Parliament, Motorhead and Ozzy Osborne. Experience under his belt, Luke headed east “to the near-empty Old Truman Brewery in the deserted Brick Lane (this was 1998!),” and set up his own design and illustration studio, Insect. Taking his new found knowledge, the studio put out a bunch of sleeves, flyers and posters for independent record labels each “riding a bit of a new wave of maximalist illustration and street art at the time,” he tells It’s Nice That.

In 2008, Luke moved again to Brighton and set up another studio as his “tastes and influences had been changing too and I’d been getting more and more influenced by the underground press and psychedelic pop art of my Dad’s generation,” he explains. “I’d inherited all his old Oz, International Times and Suck magazine, so I’d root through these and get inspired. I guess there’s a psychedelic bent to most of my work.” Other inspirations also grew and grew, eastern European poster art for instance, underground and elusive horror and sci-fi, and in general, lost imagery to repurpose, “I’m a bit of a magpie,” he says.

With such a wide range of influences, bands continued to drop Luke a line and he’s “been lucky enough to design with loads of great artists who just want me to do my weird thing!” This has continued in Luke’s latest work, a collaborative music/art design project, When Haro Met Sally between him and Damon Baxter, otherwise known as electronic artist Deadly Avenger. For the duo’s first release the conversation was kickstarted by Damon emailing Luke and asking “if I was ever into old school BMX, the ball started rolling,” the designer explains. “We’re both kids of the 80s and When Haro Met Sally is our nostalgic love letter to that whole period of our childhood, a 1984 set BMX break up album about teenage love, endless summers and chrome! (Bob Haro was the king of freestyle BMX at the time).”

In terms of music for When Haro Met Sally, the duo were inspired by the sounds of this era as well, “synth-heavy soundtracks of early 80s VHS movies, lo-fi electro and Italo disco,” Luke explains. “If the kids in E.T or Stranger Things hadn’t been hiding aliens or fighting monsters then this could have soundtracked their summer!” When it came to translating this into a design aesthetic, Luke and Damon have tried to “capture the sun-drenched haze of Californian skate and BMX parks in the early 80s,” the designer explains.

As a result, the record (and tape!) insides are such a bright yellow, almost fluoro, that would leap off record shop shelves and into your bag. It’s cover, however, is a photograph with the levels turned up into terms of heat creating such a warm image that the pair has created a place any “teenager in grey Leicester or London could only dream of being!”


Luke Insect and Deadly Avenger: When Haro Met Sally


Luke Insect and Deadly Avenger: When Haro Met Sally


Luke Insect and Deadly Avenger: When Haro Met Sally


Luke Insect and Deadly Avenger: When Haro Met Sally


Luke Insect and Deadly Avenger: When Haro Met Sally


Luke Insect and Deadly Avenger: When Haro Met Sally