We recently interviewed graphic designer, muralist and all round nice guy Alex Fowkes, we asked him about his work, what inspires him and that amazing mural he is responsible for in the Sony Music UK building;
CC: Hi Alex, thanks for agreeing to speak with us, we always kick off with this one but seems as good of a place to start as any - how did you get started ?
AF: Well I have always enjoyed making things, even when I was little making stuff was just really fun for me. Once I got through my GCSEs I took on 3 design based subjects for my ALevels, 3D Design, Fine Art and Graphics. It was the only thing I really enjoyed so I threw all my eggs in that basket and hoped it would work out. I went to Nottingham Trent Uni to continue my studies on a graphics course. Those three years were priceless, I explored, learnt and developed my skills in a really awesome environment with some just as awesome peers. I think being really dedicated to the course and the act of creation really paid off for me as I've always wanted to do things for myself.
CC: How has your style developed over time ?
AF: Lots of different aspects of my work have gone through many stages. I don't ever want that evolution of work and style to stop. So I don't really see what I'm producing now as me and what I do. Course I can use that and now it's in the bank, but I want to be forever evolving and developing because unless I'm learning something or trying something new I tend to loose interest fast.
CC: We first came across your work within the Sony Music building, I worked there in a former life when the walls were bare and walked in recently to your incredible and large mural depicting their history, how did that commission come about ?
AF: Thank you, that's really nice you got to see it in the flesh! I think it's so much more powerful seeing and experiencing it in the environment.
So basically a creative director at Sony saw my work in 2010 at New Blood a student graduate show In London run by D&AD. He tweeted me a few times and we just kept in touch on social media etc. Two years later I get an email from the Vice President of Industry Relations at Sony informing me of a job they would be interested in me taking a look at. It was really overwhelming and scary to get this email as I was working full time for this lovely studio in Shoreditch. Time went by, I managed to win the pitch (?!?!?) and I quit my job to go freelance and worked for the next 3/4 months on the Sony job.
CC: How do you approach a large project like that, what is the planning involved and what equipment do you use in the development ?
AF: I broke the whole project down, there was almost 1000 names in the original document. So basically I had already decided I wanted to make the whole installation using columns of type. So then it was a matter of working out how big the columns would be, how many names roughly should be per column, how many columns I have, how many I want to leave (the timeline is still being added too) and from that I could then concentrate on the design of each column. The whole thing was designed on my 2008 MacBook Pro (before the uni body cases!!) took me a solid 8 weeks to design. Very much worth it in the end though.
CC: Any favourite projects you've worked on, either for the challenge or the result ?
AF: I'm about to update my website with about 6 new projects. I recently released a book alongside Rockport publishers, all based on illustrative typography called Drawing Type. That's been a really challenging but also really rewarding project. Over a years worth of work in about 208 pages. Also having my work displayed on tube carriages throughout London was an amazing sight. For the project I worked alongside advertising agency Noah for a Chirstian dating website called Christian Connections. You will have to check out my site late June to see the final photos of that project.
CC: Do you have any definite design heroes who really impacted on your work ?
AF: I have so many designers I look up to. I'm lucky enough to call some of them my friends. They are an ever evolving group of people. But I can solidly say that these key people/collective inspired me enough in the beginning to know this is what I wanted to do.
Everyone who was involved in Xynthetic collective back in the day.
People's work I look up to now is so vast, people like
The list goes on!
CC: Whats next for you ?
AF: Next I'm off to China to help out with a top secret bag brand. Website advertising, branding, marketing and more.
Should be an interesting 4 weeks!