Hi Anthony. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Could we start off with you telling us about how Studio Imeus was set up. How has the company evolved since its inception in 2006, via you going full time in 2011 and now?
Studio Imeus is something that evolved organically over time, it started as a passion project. I originally studied fine art and after university found myself in many uncreative jobs, the by-product of working in uninspiring jobs is that it lights a fire under you to do what you love. So after a day at work I would return home, quickly grab something to eat then get on with making things from about 8-12pm. I found myself commuting after I moved out of London, and this commute was the perfect time to dream up concepts and ideas that I would bring to life when I got in at night. From there I began contacting people I wanted to work with, and entering competitions and submitting to exhibitions, it was a great way to build up a body of work, most of which you can still see on my old Flickr account. So after a while the commissions and editorial work started coming in, until it became difficult to manage a full time job and my own design work, so I took a leap of faith and decided to do Studio Imeus full time!
How did you start off as a designer and what elements of the profession appealed to you?
Like many people my age I learned about design from record sleeves, music was my first love and for many many years I have collected records, and so I would say that I was first exposed to graphic design and beautiful objects through record sleeve design. From the labels and artists I loved as a kid I was exposed to the awesome talents of designers such as Mike Mills, Neville Brody, Julian House, Peter Saville, Reid Miles, Trevor Jackson and Michael C Place. I appreciated good design and the value of a beautiful object way before I even knew who any of these guys were, and the sleeves always accompanied the music perfectly! It’s such a shame that so little importance is placed on most music packaging in the years since mp3s have taken prominence! I am still not even sure that its ‘design’ that appeals to me so much. To me the creative act rules over everything else, and that encompasses design, but also painting, printing, film making, typography and so much more. Making something from nothing is what inspires me, and I guess design allows for a more tangible and measurable result and response to the creative act and so it has more allure.
Which fellow designers do you love and why?
Most of my heroes are from another generation, and many of them not in the design field, two obvious ones are Paul Rand and Saul Bass. What I love about both these guys is that they didn’t put themselves in a box, they would be making a children’s book one week then branding for a major airline the next, their creativity was without bounds and they were as influential and aesthetically exciting as Matisse, Mondrian or Warhol. In the last 15 years there have been a handful of designers whom I admire, people like Anthony Burrill and Geoff Mcfetridge, not just for the work but for the fact that they are doing things on their own terms, and approach every project no matter how big or small with the same zest! Much of my visual language was learned from artists such as Joseph Beuys, Donald Judd, Sigmar Polke, Fluxus and 70’s conceptualism. I fully intend to slowly make my way full circle back to art, but only because of the purity of the medium!
You have an impressive client list and you work with a collective of contributors for each project. How do you find new people to work with?
When I was a bit younger I drew up a creative bucket list, a list of all those magazines, companies, manufacturers and media outlets that I was determined to work or collaborate with, this really worked for me at the time! Nowadays much of the work comes to me, but I do often dream of starting over, and of the joy of being unknown and of having those first commissions and successes all over again!
Your new film Made You Look explores analog creativity in the digital age. Can you tell us more about the concept and why you set out to make it?
Every few years I get together with two very dear friends and we embark on a project to give us a break from what we do in our daily lives, usually the projects are something that takes us out of our comfort zone. In 2013 I was interviewed by Print Club London about a piece I did for the Somerset House / Film 4 Summer Season exhibition, and it dawned upon me at that moment that nobody had told the story of the UK graphic arts scene of the 21st century. I called the guys on the way home, a week later we met in Brighton and we fleshed out a plan to make a documentary. We were all tired of living our lives through a multitude of screens, and sitting at desks much of the time, and slowly the film started to become as much about our issues with the digital age as it was about the graphic arts, and it seemed we weren’t the only ones, many of our interviewees were suffering from a kind of digital fatigue also!
Who did you interview for the film and was there a consensus amongst your interviewees around the topic?
We interviewed Anthony Burrill, Andrew Rae, Spencer Wilson, Kate Moross, Fred Deakin, Pete Fowler, Okido Magazine, It’s Nice That magazine, Ed Cheverton, Ben O’Brien, Helen Musselwhite, Hattie Stewart, Print Club London, Adrian Johnson, Ian Stevenson and Sam Arthur from Nobrow. The consensus really was that we live in amazing times and that a mixture of tactile, physical creativity and digital or web based tools was a winning mix. But there are many people who feel the need to have time out away from the addictive allure of the internet and digital realm, we are all feeling a bit of information burnout!
Which difficulties did you face when you were making Made You Look?
As it was a labour of love there wasn’t really much in the way of difficulties, the decision making process was fairly straightforward and we were all working to the same end so there was very little in the way conflict or disagreement. Our biggest hurdle was how to craft the story from 15 hours of interviews, we could have told the story so many different ways, but we feel we found the best approach, and this approach didn’t involve exploiting anyone for the sake of the core narrative.
Are there any filmmakers which you admire?
There are tons of filmmakers I love! With regards to documentary makers specifically I love Adam Curtis, Gary Hustwit, Aaron Rose, Julian Temple, Doug Wilson amongst many others. Film is the ultimate medium for story telling, it encompasses music, art, moving image and emotion. Really powerful when done in the right way!
What is your proudest piece of work which has been created by Studio Imeus?
At the moment I am most proud of my Double Act work, but mostly because I am pleased with the aesthetic results. I am normally proudest of the last piece I did, then I do something new and that becomes my favourite piece!
What's the secret of great design?
I wish I knew what the secret was! It would keep me from hitting the bum notes! All I know is that when I am true to an idea, the result makes me happy, but when I deceive myself or have to design ‘by committee’ that initial spark is dampened!