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Malcolm Garrett on his first ever Buzzcocks artwork, and his advice to emerging graphic designers

Malcolm-garrett-love-battery-buzzcocks-poster-graphic-design-g-f-smith-itsnicethat

Something of a legend in British graphic design, Malcolm Garrett cut his teeth designing artwork for bands such as Buzzcocks, Simple Minds and Duran Duran but has since become a key figure in the evolution of the sector. While his name will always be synonymous with those iconic music industry collaborations, the past 20 years have seen him develop pioneering work in the digital space, and in 2000 was the first Royal Designer for Industry in the field of interactive media. It’s his beginnings, though, that are the topic of conversation at the Orgasm Addict Reframed show. Organised for last October’s Design Manchester festival (which he co-founded) and now brought to London by G . F Smith, it marks 40 years since his seminal sleeve for Buzzcocks, and sees 120 designers reworking the cover. At G . F Smith’s Show Space, the original artwork is also on display alongside another piece, a poster for Buzzcocks’ Love Battery.

“I was still a second year at Manchester Poly,” Malcolm tells It’s Nice That of the poster, “it was my first piece of professional work, and my first thing for Buzzcocks, which led to a relationship that continues to this day. People don’t really know the story of that original poster. I screen printed it by hand, in college. I was listening to Buzzcocks lyrics and this song Love Battery, from the first album, stood out. It uses a found image from a newspaper, printed really small on newsprint and enlarged by 1000%, hence why the quality of the line is so broken up. It was from a small ad in the back of the paper for someone’s get-rich-quick scheme to sell one-legged tights, which is simultaneously such a brilliant and stupid idea.

“The idea was to mix images of the human form with electrical circuitry, so the two motifs I painted in the middle are diagrammatic representations of the plus and minus connections of a battery – so it’s literally a love battery! There are plugs in both righthand corners so the band could use it portrait or landscape, and it’s intended to be painted over with gig dates so they could put it up in local venues. It’s also the first time the Buzzcocks logo was ever used. For me, this poster was the beginning of a not-unsuccessful career!” Luckily Richard Boone, the manager of Buzzcocks at the time, kept hold of a few copies and the original films, which Malcolm used to print new versions for this show.

Malcolm says his approach at the time was to make work with longevity and continuity across other work for the band. He says he wanted the rhetoric not to be throwaway, and have “life beyond that poster, though nobody could’ve told me it would last 40 years. You just do it and hope it works”. It kickstarted his career and earned him many more commissions from other bands, and while it was exciting to have most of his subsequent work published, Malcolm comments that as a young designer it meant he did all his growing up in public. And while there are many projects that, with hindsight, he feels could be better, each was a step forwards and “thankfully the unsuccessful things disappeared, and the successful things survived – and the bands did too.

“When you’re in the midst of something you don’t know what’s going to last. For the last couple of decades I’ve been looking at the digital space rather than the print space because that’s where I think communication media has been developing, and has needed new design thinking. There are apps and products now that I think are as significant to the days we’re living in, as the music industry work of the 70s and 80s was then.” With that in mind, I ask him, if he were starting out today, if he’d still target the music industry. “For sure, but I wouldn’t necessarily be trying to design 12” album sleeves,” he says. “I’d be looking at the creative spaces that mean something in society today. People say I was lucky, and I was to a degree, but there were 50 people on my course and only one or two were “lucky” enough to spot that punk rock was happening. You make your own luck, you go out there and find things that inspire you and you get your hands dirty. The stars have to align, but you have to be watching the skies to see when that happens.”

Orgasm Addict Reframed is on at G . F Smith’s Show Space at 27-28 Eastcastle Street, London W1W 8DH, until 23 March.

Malcolm-garrett-buzzcocks-orgasm-addict-cover-artwork-graphic-design-itsnicethat
Nice-magazine-publication-itsnicethat-list Work / Graphic Design Nice Magazine nurtures and honestly represents young talent from the African continent

“The European perception of the African continent is oftentimes awkwardly undifferentiated, almost as if it was one single country,” explains Sereina Rothenberger and David Schatz of graphic design studio Hammer. Alongside, Sereina’s sister Flurina Rothenberger, a photographer, the pair art direct Nice magazine in an attempt to present the diversity of the multiple realities in African cities.

Raoulgottschling-diefarbendesfarblosen-graphicdesign-itsnicethat-10list Work / Graphic Design Designer Raoul Gottschling on branding shape-shifting spaces and happy accidents

Raoul Gottschling is a creative through and through. As a child, the German-born, Brooklyn-based designer spent sports classes sketching football pitches rather than fulfilling his duties as goalkeeper. “At one point during my early teenage years my dad introduced me to Photoshop. I used it to design a logo and a bunch of (extremely sick!) graphics for my skate crew. I did my first internship in a design studio in Cologne at 14 years old. I must have made my career choice around my 15th birthday and haven’t looked back since,” Raoul tells It’s Nice That. 


Johanna-burai-graphic-design-itsnicethat-2 Work / Graphic Design Graphic designer Johanna Burai's work is as critical and politically charged as ever

“My work is constantly evolving,” Stockholm-based designer Joanna Burai tells It’s Nice That, “it’s kind of hard to say in terms of pure form because my designs have always been so varied.” When we first spoke to Johanna back in 2016, it was the “jack of all trades and master of all” qualities demonstrated in her portfolio that impressed us so much, and which continue to today.

Mikeyjoyce-daisy-graphicdesign-itsnicethat-list Work / Graphic Design Dive into Mikey Joyce's portfolio with its “healthy balance of calculated and convoluted silliness"

The portfolio of Mikey Joyce shows how sometimes, not following the traditional route into graphic design can provide a more eclectic output. With just an Instagram account displaying his design flair, Mikey’s work jumps between the silly and the serious as he nestles his way into the design world, adopting the title of a designer, creative director and artist.

Benoitbodhuin-graphicdesign-itsnicethat-list Work / Graphic Design Benoit Bodhuin's experimental, maths-inspired typefaces

When it comes to innovative, experimental type design, Belgium-based Benoit Bodhuin is pretty far ahead in the race. In a previous article about Benoit, we described him as a “progressive designer” and “one to keep an eye on for sure.” Five years later and we are happy to have followed our own advice.

Swindled Work / Graphic Design Superimpose Studio on the impact of Brexit on the creative industries

Swindled. It’s one simple word, but one which sparked an entire movement for Services Unknown, a platform run by London’s Superimpose Studio that explores issues facing the creative industries. It’s latest campaign – #Swindled – aims to facilitate a new discussion around Brexit, seeking an outcome that works for everyone. Having originally conceived the campaign for anti-Brexit group Best for Britain, Superimpose Studio decided to produce #Swindled itself after momentum stalled. The studio’s creative director Ollie Olanipekun opens up to It’s Nice That about the independently funded national campaign and the wider implications of Brexit on the creative industries.

Gottfried-angel-woman-on-boardwalk-in-brighton-beach-lglist Work / Photography The legacy of late NYC street photographer Arlene Gottfried

Crouched in a Manhattan storage unit, curator Daniel Cooney was wading through 50 years of work by late New York photographer Arlene Gottfried. With so much material – enough for 18 shows, he imagines – the “huge responsibility and huge privilege” of putting on the first show since Gottfried’s passing in the summer of 2017 felt very real. “I would just close my eyes and say, ‘Arelene, I need your help.’ I just tried to tune in on a very personal level and think, who is Arlene? Who was she to me?”

Nice-magazine-publication-itsnicethat-list Work / Graphic Design Nice Magazine nurtures and honestly represents young talent from the African continent

“The European perception of the African continent is oftentimes awkwardly undifferentiated, almost as if it was one single country,” explains Sereina Rothenberger and David Schatz of graphic design studio Hammer. Alongside, Sereina’s sister Flurina Rothenberger, a photographer, the pair art direct Nice magazine in an attempt to present the diversity of the multiple realities in African cities.

Raoulgottschling-diefarbendesfarblosen-graphicdesign-itsnicethat-10list Work / Graphic Design Designer Raoul Gottschling on branding shape-shifting spaces and happy accidents

Raoul Gottschling is a creative through and through. As a child, the German-born, Brooklyn-based designer spent sports classes sketching football pitches rather than fulfilling his duties as goalkeeper. “At one point during my early teenage years my dad introduced me to Photoshop. I used it to design a logo and a bunch of (extremely sick!) graphics for my skate crew. I did my first internship in a design studio in Cologne at 14 years old. I must have made my career choice around my 15th birthday and haven’t looked back since,” Raoul tells It’s Nice That. 


8 Work / Art Judit Kristensen on the pace and vulnerability of her pencil portraits

“I like bad drawers, or I like when there are vulnerable elements in a drawing,” says artist Judit Kristensen. From Umeå in the north of Sweden but currently based in Copenhagen, Judit has tried to hang on to some of the less-than-perfect technical details from when she first started working in this style two years ago. “ I guess time has made me a better draftsman – for better and for worse. I prefer empathetic over perfection, and you cant really be voluntarily bad to make a drawing vulnerable. I think that would have an opposite effect.”

Kimjakobsento-squiresofthesquaretable-photography-itsnicethat-5list Work / Photography Kim Jakobsen To's honest and impeccably stylish photography

“I got interested in photography during my teenage years when I worked as a performance artist and DJ at various Norwegian goth and metal clubs. I would take pictures of my friends and the people I would meet,” photographer Kim Jakobsen To tells It’s Nice That. After completing a year of sociology and film-making at a Norwegian college, Kim enrolled in the Photography BA at UCA Farnham. There he studied under Anna Fox, Jason Evans and Gareth McConnel, all of which he says played an integral part in shaping his photographic language.

Johanna-burai-graphic-design-itsnicethat-2 Work / Graphic Design Graphic designer Johanna Burai's work is as critical and politically charged as ever

“My work is constantly evolving,” Stockholm-based designer Joanna Burai tells It’s Nice That, “it’s kind of hard to say in terms of pure form because my designs have always been so varied.” When we first spoke to Johanna back in 2016, it was the “jack of all trades and master of all” qualities demonstrated in her portfolio that impressed us so much, and which continue to today.

Alexandermedel-illustration-itsnicethat-list Work / Illustration Alexander Medel took a year off illustration and design - but now he's back!

Alexander Medel, an illustrator masterful with pleasing curving shapes, is a creative we’ve shouted about countless times on It’s Nice That. However, we haven’t had the opportunity to shout about him for quite some time as Alexander’s been on an illustration sabbatical of sorts, but now, thankfully, he’s back with a bunch of personal work to share.

K_l_printlist Work / Art Artist Jesse Draxler on finding clarity through greyscale

“When I began working exclusively in greyscale is when everything seemed to start to make sense,” says artist and illustrator Jesse Draxler of his dark, brooding style that combines collaged photography and painting, manifesting in large-scale paintings or commissioned illustrations. “It’s as if by freeing my mind from having to think about colour I had gained a greater clarity for everything else, like when someone loses a sense their other senses heighten to compensate.” Jesse suspects that his preference for a black and white palette is informed by the fact he’s colour blind, or “colour deficient” as he calls it. “Though I don’t put too much weight behind just that.”

Mikeyjoyce-daisy-graphicdesign-itsnicethat-list Work / Graphic Design Dive into Mikey Joyce's portfolio with its “healthy balance of calculated and convoluted silliness"

The portfolio of Mikey Joyce shows how sometimes, not following the traditional route into graphic design can provide a more eclectic output. With just an Instagram account displaying his design flair, Mikey’s work jumps between the silly and the serious as he nestles his way into the design world, adopting the title of a designer, creative director and artist.

Ag_thehottestdaylist Work / Illustration Alessandra Genualdo's illustrations mix high fashion and intimate moments

With their pursed lips, rolling eyes and folded arms, you can almost hear the exasperated sighs of Alessandra Genualdo’s characters through the screen. Largely focussing on women, Alessandra is an expert at capturing the internal world of her subjects, whether they’re showing a moment of vulnerability, contemplation or distinct disapproval.

Angel-stempel-list-03 Work / Animation Heart Chakra by Angela Stempel comedically explores LA's crystal culture

“The seed of the idea for Heart Chakra came in the summer of 2015 when I went out to the desert for an art show,” explains Los Angeles-based animator, Angela Stempel. “At the event, there were two [separate] performance art pieces in which artists pulled out crystals from their vaginas.” Completely stunned that two artists had independently come up with this same idea – and fascinated by the allure and mysticism that surrounds them in her new home of L.A. – Angela decided to explore the concept for her graduation film from the Experimental Animation MFA at CalArts.

Swindled Work / Graphic Design Superimpose Studio on the impact of Brexit on the creative industries

Swindled. It’s one simple word, but one which sparked an entire movement for Services Unknown, a platform run by London’s Superimpose Studio that explores issues facing the creative industries. It’s latest campaign – #Swindled – aims to facilitate a new discussion around Brexit, seeking an outcome that works for everyone. Having originally conceived the campaign for anti-Brexit group Best for Britain, Superimpose Studio decided to produce #Swindled itself after momentum stalled. The studio’s creative director Ollie Olanipekun opens up to It’s Nice That about the independently funded national campaign and the wider implications of Brexit on the creative industries.

Vivamag_aleppolist Work / Illustration A whizz through the portfolio of Italian illustrator Marco Oggian

Marco Oggian has wanted to be illustrator since he was just a little kid. Describing his style as “simple, strong, a five-year-old could do better”, it seems that a lot of that energy has stayed with him. Although most small children don’t quite have Marco’s client base, there’s definitely more than a touch of the playful to the Italian illustrator’s colourful approach. But his simple shapes and bright colours are often deployed to highlight more serious issues, from the environment to the war in Syria.

5_(1) Work / Photography Alex Vasilyev's compelling photographs of locals living in Russia's coldest region

“We would never leave our homes if we didn’t have to. We’d stay at home drinking hot tea while waiting for spring. Life stops in winter. A dense fog clouds the sunlight for a few weeks and we experience months of severe frost,” photographer Alex Vasilyev tells It’s Nice That. Although Alex’s description may resonate with many of you – particularly our New York readers who suffered through this winter’s bomb cyclone – he is, in fact, describing his home of Yakutia, also known as Russia’s coldest region. Winters are long in Yakutsk, the district’s capital, often lasting five months with a temperature of around -40 degrees. 


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