Despite the fact that artist Adrian Kay Wong lives in Los Angeles and Raffy and George – who make up design studio Printed Goods – live in Bristol, the group have got a lot in common. Firstly, both have a similar approach to work regardless of their differing practices. They both appreciate strong geometric presence in their creative endeavours, working logistically by also limiting themselves to a carefully selected colour palette. It doesn’t matter about the eight hour time difference: this lot are very much in the same place.
As well as the work at hand, it turns out Raffy and George are actually twins and Adrian is a twin too although “Unfortunately, my brother didn’t pursue a creative endeavour,” he remarks. Yet, those familiar with Adrian’s paintings will be able to peel away the relevance of his sibling in his work through his use of “visual alliteration”. It’s the same for Printed Goods’ output, but more naturally, considering it’s the two brothers working together.
These common threads, picked up and shared by two sets of creatives on opposite sides of the globe but leading eerily similar creative and familial lives, is what they decided to manifest in their collaborative poster made using Dropbox Paper, available for free at Nicer Tuesdays September.
From the get-go, the fact that both creatives were sets of twins was an obvious theme that needed to be explored. A complete accident as Adrian was initially drawn to Printed Goods “purely in a visual sense,” it was only as he looked deeper into who they were that he stumbled across the “pleasant surprise that they were twin brothers”.
However, both Printed Goods and Adrian were keen to illustratively depict the month of September too, communicating that end of summer feeling, the setting sun and the start of the year winding down. Deciding on a poster which would communicate “September’s earthy tones” but also the backgrounds of the creatives through a consistent use of duplicating symmetry, Adrian kicked off visual proceedings by suggesting layouts for Printed Goods to explore.
The first was an exploration of spatial elements, teetering on the idea of it being populated by Printed Goods’ illustrated objects which resonate with that feeling of “daily-life imagery”. This approach would give viewers an element they recognise, like plants or vases for instance, but in its simplicity “could allow for the mirrored symmetry to be dynamic,” suggests Adrian. The artist’s second idea heavily focused on the theme of twins between the two creatives, suggesting a playing card design set up as an “engaging way to address the duplicative nature of being a twin”. Or, a final idea, fully inspired by Printed Goods’ work, of playing with a tiled motif design which would again allow for repetition.
Following Adrian’s idea splurge for Printed Goods to pick and build upon, the one idea “that jumps out for us is the spatial idea,” the pair explain on their collaborative Dropbox Paper thread. “We could tie our work together in a cohesive way to create a room or gallery space,” Raffy suggests. Himself and George would design a space for a painting of Adrian’s to digitally hang within as “the 2D element in your work would really lend itself to this concept and create a nice contrast to the 3D space we would create.”
Pulling together research imagery of open spaces with large outlooking windows onto landscapes where they envisaged a painting by Adrian would sit, Raffy and George also mocked up a quick illustration of a space in an autumn fading colour palette of oranges, contrasted with tones of blue.
Handing the reigns back over to Adrian with the mockup, this is where the artist personally felt a turning point in the project. “Prior to this, I prompted the discussion with three different directions in which we could push our collaboration while still maintaining our defining visual languages,” Adrian tells It’s Nice That. These three iterations were objects of interest for the artist: a daydreaming pair of twins, reminiscent of the winding down of autumn, two individuals running just out of and into frame and a pair cycling in tandem to represent his interest in sports, and finally a simple portrait featuring the back of two heads.
Following Printed Goods’ feedback that the runners, portrait and sleepy characters were the best to build from, Adrian found he had “a clear understanding of what we wanted and a strong foundation to work from,” he explains. “From there on, it was a smooth process of making additions back and forth to where we are now. I believe both parties did a great job utilising each others’ changes and balancing an engaging interplay of geometric flatness and structural depth.”
At this stage iterations and iterations of the possible final poster’s design began to be whipped up. After Adrian suggested committing to the portrait concept, with Printed Goods agreeing that “the fact that you can only see the back of the figures heads only adds to the mystery of the image,” the group got to work with colour palettes and warm details.
The Dropbox Paper thread proved particularly helpful at this stage too as Printed Goods were able to slightly alter Adrian’s work, for instance by adding shadows – to add to the “autumnal theme by suggesting a setting sun” – and ping it back to him for feedback. “It’s a great platform for creative projects,” Raffy explains of Printed Goods’ use of the thread, “being able to view images and text in a clearly laid out format was very useful when making important decisions. It felt more intuitive compared to the usual method of countless emails back and forth.” With George agreeing how it feels “more like a conversation,” proving easy when going “back and checking through the progression of the project, which is great for staying on track.”
For Adrian it was equally the convenience of Dropbox Paper that encouraged the project’s growth, actually being “more engaging than I anticipated,” he tells us. “I usually find correspondence online somewhat disconnected, slow, or even, laborious at times. However, I think this platform, because of its simplicity and ease of use, allows for a streamlined approach to efficient collaboration and a great way to log the process as well.”
Next, final details started to be placed in the poster’s frame. Objects which were initially mentioned in the start came into play too. For instance, Adrian added night scenery in one window and day in the other to show contrast, before settling on a simpler visual metaphor by featuring clocks, one at 2pm for Printed Goods in Bristol and 10pm for Adrian in LA, “oddly it works out,” he jokes on the thread.
Sending Adrian a Photoshop file so he can work towards a final version by hiding and placing layers of objects on top of his painting. The creatives settled on a design of an archway featuring two twin characters staring at the poster mirroring the back of their heads was settled on.
Illustrated in a warm green colour palette rather than the initial blue that was toyed with, the sun sets in the background of the poster’s design to again mirror the fading warm weather of September.
Now with the final poster decided, printed and available at Nicer Tuesdays this evening (25 September), George of Printed Goods describes the collaborative piece “as contemplative”, while Adrian sees it as “a visual expression of how personal narratives inform the creative process,” he says.
By observing the visual qualities of Autumn through Printed Goods’ work you can see George’s contemplative description easily, but when you know the people involved the visual duplicates that appear again and again are each selected for visual impactful and personal reasons.