Design inspiration from around the world.

What the FFF?

Founded in 2005 by an ever growing group of designers, illustrators, coders and makers eager to collect and share the best design work they came across, FormFiftyFive soon became an international showcase of creative work.

We scour the world’s best creative talent to keep FormFiftyFive a foremost collection of current design from both the young upstarts and well known masters. We’re constantly on the look out for new features that dig even deeper into what’s happening in the design community, so get in touch if there’s something you’ld like to see on here.

Have a look round, if you see something you love or hate be sure to comment, and drop us a line if there’s a juicy bit of creative gold you’d like to see on here.

Keep it real, the FFF team.

The FFF team

Glenn Garriock — 1530 posts
Graphic designer – Uetze, Germany

Jack Daly — 1184 posts
Graphic designer & Illustrator – Glasgow,…

Lois Daly — 45 posts
Lois Daly – Graphic Designer, Glasgow

Alex Nelson — 78 posts
Designer/coder – Leeds/London/Melbourne

Guy Moorhouse — 45 posts
Independent designer and technologist — London,…

Gil Cocker — 319 posts
Designer & Maker – London, UK

Barry van Dijck — 125 posts
Designer & Illustrator – Breda, The Netherlands

Gui Seiz — 135 posts
Graphic Designer – London, UK

Chris J
Chris Jackson — 71 posts
Graphic Designer – Leeds, UK

Tom Vining
Tom Vining — 12 posts
Graphic Designer – London, UK

Tommy Borgen
Tommy Borgen — 15 posts
Graphic Designer – Oslo, Norway

Clinton Duncan — 24 posts
Creative director – Sydney, Australia

Amanda Jones — 25 posts
Graphic Designer – Ann Arbor, Michigan

Gabriela Salinas — 17 posts
Graphic designer – Monterrey, México.

Felicia Aurora Eriksson
Felicia Aurora Eriksson — 6 posts
Graphic Designer – Melbourne, Australia

Got something for us?

If there’s a juicy bit of creative gold you’d like to see on FFF, or you’d just like to get in touch, email us on the address below and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

You can also check out our guide to the perfect submission here.

Looking for something?


Categories rowsEverything Interviews Books Events Jobs



Interview with Ken Wong, artist & designer of Monument Valley

Ahead of the release of their stunning new game Monument Valley, we speak to ustwo‘s Ken Wong about how a project like this comes to fruition. Click through to the post to read the interview in full and get an exclusive chance to sign up for the Monument Valley beta.

Watch the video in HD 

Hi Ken, would you mind briefly introducing yourself to our readers?

Howdy! My name is Ken Wong, and I’m a video game artist and designer at ustwo. Last year I made an iPhone game called Hackycat, in Australia. The year before that I art directed a game where Alice battles Wonderland, in Shanghai. This year I’m in London and I’m designing a game about geometry, architecture and forgiveness.

What can you tell us about your latest project Monument Valley?

Monument Valley originated from wanting to make a game where architecture was the main character. It’s a surreal exploration through fantastical architecture and impossible geometry where the player guides Ida through mysterious monuments, uncovering hidden paths, unfolding optical illusions and outsmarting the enigmatic Crow People.

Monument Valley is a beautiful, exploratory experience, somewhere between exploring a toyshop and reading The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.

Read more


Interview: OFFF founder Héctor Ayuso

In preparation of the OFFF digital media festival in May 2014 we are launching a series of interviews with selected speakers from the event. To kick things off we spoke to OFFF founder Héctor Ayuso about some of the challenges he faced organising the festival.

Hello Héctor, would you mind briefly introducing yourself to our readers.

Introducing yourself must be the trickiest thing you could do, but well I’m Héctor Ayuso, I’m a curator and OFFF Festival’s founder and director, also known for a huge Sigur Ros fanatic that owns thousands of blu-rays back at home. Hope that sums it up!

I read somewhere that you came up with the idea for the OFFF and launched it that same day. What was the biggest challenge organising that first event?

That is true, and I can never count the times someone has asked me this question and I really hope every time my answer will influence most of the people out there with a strong passion to do something. Basically the biggest challenge I have ever faced is the fact that I had no previous experiences in such things and I had no idea what I was doing. I had a passion to do create something new, a place where people could gather, meet and get inspired by the awesome talents we have out there. I would say that I probably lost a lot of money in my first event, but that only taught me something new every year. And once you have a strong will to do something, you fall, you pick yourself up and you basically learn how to do it better each time.

We’re all glad you persisted! What would your one piece of advice be to someone who is thinking of organising a talk or event.

If you want to do something, just do it, go all the way till the end until you achieve that goal. And that’s the main reason OFFF has been going on for its 14th edition now. Another important piece of advice: don’t think about the event’s profits, don’t organise something focusing on the money that you will make or any such thing. Focus on your audience and give them something that will change their life and this will give you the opportunity of success.

Read more


FvF x FFF: Phunk Interview

In our latest Freunde von Freunden interview we gain a rare glimpse into the lives of Singapore contemporary art & design collective PHUNK. Alvin Tan, Jackson Tan, Melvin Chee and William Chan met during their studies at LASALLE College of the Arts and in 1994 PhunkStudio was formed. Sharing one Macintosh in a rented space in Chinatown, the beginnings were rudimentary to say the least. Without anything other than a dream, they drew on each other’s friendship and creative talents to reach for the skies.

Emerging from a creative climate that could best be described as a cultural desert, like their hometown of Singapore, this group have grown, evolved and diversified to seek out new opportunities and create new histories. PHUNK represent a new generation of free-thinkers who are forging new professional pathways. Embracing collaboration, and the, ‘creative meeting of the minds’, their joint efforts have resulted in the establishment of a studio and gallery that works with a range of artists and brands to produce innovative projects.

Each member maintains a different day job while working simultaneously for the collective that informs their approach to PHUNK. Alvin has his own sunglasses line called Mystic Vintage; Jackson works on branding and curatorial projects for various companies; Melvin produces commissioned paintings; and William runs a motion graphics and film production company. While offering a tour of their studio and gallery, they provide some insights into daily life in Singapore and discuss how their ultimate project is always their next collaboration.

Read more


Interview: Jeffrey Bowman

This week we launched out latest interactive masthead collaboration with Jeffrey Bowman. We had a chance to chat to the illustrator and designer, who left the UK for a log cabin in the Norwegian country side, to ask him about his new surroundings and how he had to adapt his working process.

Hi Jeffrey, can you tell us a little about where you are these days and what lead you to Norway.

At the moment I’m based in a place called Hemsedal, which is a mountain village about 4 hours north of Oslo. It’s a pretty incredible place, based around an active outdoor lifestyle. In winter it’s Norway’s snowboard capital and in summer it turns into a hive of outdoor activities from climbing, hiking, fishing, camping, downhill mountain biking and so much more. It’s a super chilled place with a really easy pace of life, which is one of the reasons I ended up here.   One of my students from my time at Shillington College lives here, so I came out to visit last summer. I love the mountains and being outdoors, hiking, climbing and snowboarding and the lifestyle that goes with it, so when I came to visit for 3 weeks I fell in love with the place. I was really sad to leave after my trip, it was like I’d found my second home, so I decided that it was a lifestyle I wanted, so packed up and moved here in January.   Everything is possible here, in summer the 19 hours of sunlight means you can do so much with each day, we call them ‘double days’. I go to the studio do 5-6 hours of work and then head out to explore. Winter is different the daylight is around 5-6 hours and its down to -25 for a lot of the time so you spend your time between boarding and working.   And if I’m honest I really got wore down by the city and the 8-6 everyday, I never felt like I had a life, it got tipped way out of balance, juggling a full-time teaching job and freelance. Plus dealing with the daily encounters of Manchester. I loved my time there and the people I met, but city life can be tough and ugly, so I opted out. I still have dreams or ‘nightmares’ of being back in a city and not being able to get back to Norway haha. At the moment I do feel like I’ll be sticking here for a few years, it’s the right lifestyle for me. I’ve swapped sirens for the sweet bird sounds and the chavs for mountains.

What’s your new work space like?

I work in a log cabin called ‘Igloo’. It’s in the village centre, set up as a shared studio space by Anki Grothe (photographer) and Mari Soderholm (graphic design and former student of mine). It’s a really cool space, it’s as authentic as you can get! I love working down here, I think anyone freelancing needs a space to work, and for me it’s the dream I’ve always had, a cabin tucked away in the mountains.   The creative community here is really strong so people come by to work from here a lot, and we have regular exhibitions from local creatives. There is a good sense of community and it’s building stronger as we go. 

What are you currently working on?

I’ve just finished the cover of issue 15 of The Albion BMX magazine (it should have been issue 13 but it got put back and added too quite a lot), it’s been quite a ride doing that and I’m super stoked to see it finished. It’s 15 famous BMX spots from around the world made into one crazy ‘dream’ spot! I’m also working on more promo material and branding for Sheffield Uni. Also a range of longboard and decks for a Brazilian skate company and off the back of that I think I’ll be re-branding them too. And I’m also working on a ton of other small branding projects including Sim Warren who is a videographer, working on graphics and branding for his video ’64 Days’ which documents his trip through the national parks of America filming the wildlife and mountains.   And as always I have personal projects I’m working on, one of which i’m currently in talks with to produce a book all being well.

Read more


FvF x FFF Portrait – Fons Hickmann

We’ve teamed up with Freunde von Freunden to bring you an exclusive look into the lives of creatives from around the world. Starting off with Fons Hickmann, who founded Fons Hickmann m23 in 2001 in Berlin with Bjoern Wolf.

Their work focuses on the design of complex communication systems and is working mainly in the cultural field, ranking among today’s most awarded design studios. The studio lends its expertise to everything related to events, communication and visual identity.

Here’s short excerpt from the interview…

Which clients are your favourite?

I really appreciate clients from the cultural and social sector. Semperoper, theatre festivals, music labels, Amnesty International… it is a great gain to work with cultured people who respect and understand what we do. It was a hard road to be where we are now, to be able to choose for whom we want to work for. But the work was worth it and continues to be. Working with equally respected clients means that both sides will profit, be feared, and will learn from each other. For me it is very important to work with people I like. This is a good idea: never work with assholes.

Can you tell us about your journey as a designer that turned you into what you are today?

I don’t consider myself as a designer. I also studied philosophy which still influences me today. During my studies I mainly did artistic work, even though I couldn’t truly handle the etiquette of art and design.

I did my diploma under a painter, Dieter Glasmacher. This man put an immense amount of life into his teaching. He showed me the true importance of passion in work and that one should be willing to burn for it. At the end the medium of expression didn’t matter – I still don’t know how to paint. However, the work needed to express an idea. Something you feel or something that shows a bridge between heart and brain. I underwent this journey until I understood that design was best for my expression. It was so beautiful to realise that people understood what I did. The idea that design is not something hermetical but should communicate with words and prove its relevance.

Of yours, Uwe Loesch also influenced me greatly, under whom I studied in Wupperal. Still to this day he is one of the smartest designer celebrities that I know. That’s how I became a designer.

Do you have a favourite piece of furniture or object in your flat?

I really like my action figurines. The salamander figures come from the shoe store of my parents. As a child I used to play with them in the shop windows. My books are also really important to me, both literature and novels. Books change over the years, they live! Even the stories of a book alter, the content always changes. Just like Heraclitus said, one couldn’t step twice into the same river; for the other waters are ever flowing on to you.

Check out the full interview at Freunde von Freunden.


Interview – Ariel di Lisio

Ariel Di Lisio, aka Negro™ is a graphic designer from Argentina, specialising on the craft of typography, logos, and print. His work is a fine mix between fresh and modern, always thinking about the functionality and the range of possibilities for the types he creates, showing a great love for shape and geometry. There is nothing he enjoys more than to create his own types, for both personal and commercial projects. He takes deep pleasure in the process, from making decisions about the concept and mood, through the production stage, and then seeing them on their final output.

Hello Ariel, can you tell me a little about Negro™?

Negro™ has been around for approximately 10 years. At first it had a traditional agency format with several people but eventually I decided to work by myself. This allowed me to get back to something that has always been a big itch, which is typography. I needed more time to work in a precise way in the treatment, design and development of fonts.

Today Negro™ divides its time working on design and typography. It specialises in developing Corporate Identity and Typography. Of course typography conforms an important part of my design work; practically all projects are made with my fonts. Negro™ seeks to provide quality design with a high degree of simplicity. I believe in the simple ways of saying things through design, in the right choice of typography, in a tailored colour palette for a project, and a careful respect for white space.

What are you passionate about?

Design and Typography are my main passions. When I speak of passion I’m talking about working on it for hours and hours without ever getting tired. Sometimes I feel lucky to be working for something that really excites me, it is a privilege. Also I love hanging out with friends, playing soccer, going out to eat and see shows.

I know you travel a lot, what do you like about the design culture in Argentina and the other countries you have visited?

I have traveled for work to Chile, Venezuela, México and the United States, also many other countries as tourist. Currently I’m in Buenos Aires, where I live. I like the design culture in Argentina, there is a lot going on all the time: design events, festivals, conferences, etc. It is good to have this kind of events where young designers can learn from the experience of professionals. I think these events are very helpful for the design environment and I like to connect with designer friends and talk about our realities. Besides, I admire many of them.

Read more


Interview — Purpose

We were blown away when we saw FFF’s Sean Rees and Purpose colleague Nathan Webb present their work for speech therapy course the McGuire Programme at London’s Point conference. From Sean’s very personal story of recovering from a stutter, to the creative and business challenges of working with a global not-for-profit organisation, we met up with them to find out why the project meant so much, and how they pulled it off.

Read more



If you travel a lot the ingenius Currency App by Simple Simple will quickly gain a permanent spot on your home screen. It has a beautifully minimal interface for quick access to conversions and with over 160 currencies from all over the world you’ll always be up to date.

I got in touch with Alex Penny, the designer of Currency, to ask him about the project.

Hi Alex, tell us a little about the team behind Currency.

Last summer I contacted developer Matt Davenport to collaborate on some iOS projects. Matt is a developer in Manchester, UK and I’m a designer in New York. We decided to start on something small, and quick to make. So many basic utility apps are available, yet most lack in any thoughtful and useful design. Eventually we decided a simple, well designed currency converter was completely missing from the app store.

What problems where you hoping to solve with a ‘better’ currency app?

Matt and I experimented with different interfaces, and took a break to mull things over. While traveling through France and Switzerland I realized the reoccurring necessity I have for converting multiple currencies while abroad. People traveling are often skipping from country to country, and comparing the conversions between currencies all at once is so helpful.

I love the graphic flags you designed, is there one for every currency?

Yes, the flags were inspired by navy signal flags. I started designing the flags for every currency, then simplified the details to replicate iconic swiss posters. After meticulous illustrating, we had 160 cohesive flags, the centerpiece for Currency.

Thanks for taking the time to speak to us Alex!

You can download the Currency app from the App Store


Interview — StudioMakgill

To wet our whistle ahead of his upcoming LongLunch talk at The Design Museum, we caught up with Hamish, Creative Director of Brighton based Studio Makgill.

Could you sum up in a few words what you do?

We are a graphic design agency that makes beautifully simple work.

Can you tell us a little about the team behind StudioMakgill?

We are currently four permanent staff with a rolling roster of freelancers and interns to help with the workload.

What spurred you on to start your own studio, and how did you make the leap?

This is actually the second agency I have run. I founded Red Design with a friend back in 1996. So the process of setting up StudioMakgill wasn’t scary to me. In between Red Design and StudioMakgill I spent four years working with some great agencies in London and this had really helped shape the kind of agency I wanted to run.

You’re based in Brighton, what influence do you think location has on a studio’s output?

The decision to be in Brighton is because I live down here and I want to have a decent quality of life with my family. StudioMakgill was very nearly based in London, but the thought of being a lifelong commuter was too depressing.

It presents some challenges, but I feel that you really don’t need to be London based to be recognised as a serious agency. I hope that we are proving that to be true.

How do you approach creating ‘beautifully simple work’?

I think firstly it isn’t a completely conscious process. It comes from a desire for and appreciation of simplicity. But there is a process which in itself is actually quite simple. We constantly ask ourselves what is important in a design. What can we get rid of before we compromise the meaning or integrity of that piece.

Do clients ever come to you with something specific in mind?

Of course.

We don’t take on every project that comes to us. But a client with something in mind can either be a great thing or it can be potentially toxic.

It really depends on so many factors. It requires learning a lot about people and becoming a good judge of character. Experience has really helped here, though taking on the wrong client is a mistake that can still happen. Read more


Computer Arts Collections Vol.2

With Volume 2 of Computer Arts Collections already on the shelves of your local Newsagent for a few weeks now, we caught up with editor Nick Carson & art-director Luke O’Neill to find out about the new series.

FFF: Great work on the first series, how was the feedback from your readers in general?

CA: Feedback has been extremely positive, both to the premium production values and the content itself – particularly the guest-edited Studio Project, which is a really strong USP of the title, and the depth and industry access of the Process section. The Trend Report, another strong USP – produced by a professional creative consultancy on a rolling basis – has stimulated strong opinions on both sides (including on FFF!) – which is exactly our intention. It’s the kind of topic that *should* provoke debate.

FFF: What we’re you able to learn from the first volume and how did this influence the design of the second?

CA: The entire magazine has benefited from a creative overhaul, including a totally new approach to the cover design (complete with luxury soft-touch laminate, on which we worked with finishing specialists Celloglas) and the various internal sections have had a shake-up too to keep things fresh and current.

There are various editorial tweaks – the Trend Report has been adjusted to put greater focus on the smaller, self-contained ‘micro trends’, with more space for larger imagery to show off more inspirational work – and the broader ‘macro trend’ feature is delivered as an update that charts how the style has evolved and developed, and explores how it’s manifested across the different disciplines we’ve covered so far. It’s all about building up an ongoing reference series that studios can continued to dip into and back-reference.

The Industry Focus section has also been reworked as an A5 booklet, illustrated throughout with a Pantone spot-colour and printed on matt art paper for another quality production touch. Editorially, in the first volume we went for a more expansive overview of the whole industry; in the second volume we’re putting sharper focus on a particular field, discipline or issue in a ‘special report’ format, kicking off with branded app design (and we’ll be looking at bespoke typefaces for brands next).

We also made the decision to reduce the total pagination slightly, in return for upping the paper stock considerably – from 90gsm to 130gsm. This included scaling back the Talent Directory at the back from a rather self-indulgent 16 pages to a more sensible five.

Finally, there’s a new regular slot in which a designer introduces the city in which they live and work – all their favourite creative haunts, eateries, places to be inspired, etc, illustrated with plenty of their own photography. It’s the most ‘lifestyley’ piece in the mag, and after a lot of intense, in-depth, investigative content about style, process and creative approach, feels like a nice laid-back way to conclude the mag. We kicked off with Portland; next time it’s Bangkok. We’re hoping it’ll go down well.

FFF: Where there any challenges to face in the design of the second series?

CA: Haha, there was one little production issue, in that we were told that 130gsm was the maximum possible weight that could be web-fed by the printer – but it turned out that we’d pushed it that little bit too far and it jammed the press, shutting it down for a few hours. Still made it to newsstand in time though, fortunately! Subsequent issues are going to be sheet-fed instead to overcome this.

FFF: Have you already selected topics for each issue of the second series? Are we allowed to know what they are?

CA: That one’s easy – the topics are consistent year by year: graphic design, typography, illustration, branding, photography and advertising. The concept is to build an ongoing collection that reviews the 12 months that have passed since the last time we covered that topic, and issues back-reference each other wherever appropriate with this in mind.

FFF: Are there any plans to incorporate the Collection into the CA website in the future or do you see the Collection purely as a printed resource?

CA: Occasional Collection content is made available on the CA site, and we’re sold through there of course (as well as digitally on iPad, Android, Zinio etc) but yes, Collection is designed primarily as a collectable, desirable print title for the studio bookshelf.

Get a copy for your bookshelf at your local bookshop, newsagent or online.


GBH — Mama Shelter

Ross from GBH got in touch to tell us about their recent sterling branding work of the unconventional hotel Mama Shelter.

— Positioned as ‘affordable luxury’, the Mama way is a unique mix of warmth, friendliness, communality with chic and eclectic design interiors but with a touch of surreal humour.

The Mama Shelter logo is very bold and unconventional, playing off the values of Mama it’s both warm and cozy but also surreal and surprising, we even hid an egg within the sheltering legs of Mama. This logo has been adapted with a tag to signal each new location.

The messaging and tone of Mama is many different overlapping tones, with exposed concrete walls colliding with graffitied blackboard ceilings and retro artefacts, its unique atmosphere is a combination of relaxed cosiness and an offbeat artist’s commune.

We were briefed to create the identity and all touch points throughout the hotels. We needed something memorable and unusual to reflect the electric nature of Mama Shelter.

For the rest of the items, we had a very ‘non-branding’ attitude from the owner, where each location is to have it’s own version of keycard holders, restaurant menus and do not disturb signs. The items are meant to feel unbranded and ‘found’ so instead of having the logo plastered on everything, we built on the Mama brand through the tone of each objects.

There are multiples of each idea too, so for example there are 8 other chicken keycard holders.

Also we have done some work for Mama Pizzeria, it was a tiny identity for their in house Pizzeria. Mama’s take on the fat jolly cartoon italian chef you normally get on pizzeria’s boxes.

— Thanks Ross!


Mr Bingo — Hate Mail

When Mr Bingo flippantly announced on his twitter feed that he’d send an abusive message and drawing via the medium of vintage postcard for just £10, he was bombarded with requests. ‘Hate Mail‘ was born, a fluent stream of sharp, witty, and often silly abuse was sent to the recipient (and no doubt, the postman’s) amusement.

We caught up with the ‘Justin Bieber of drawing’ himself at his studio to chat about the launch of his book ‘Hate Mail‘.

What lead you to become an illustrator?

I think it was just something that I felt that I had to do, I felt like it was the only thing I could do. I always liked drawing, studied Graphic Design at University, specialised in Illustration, mainly because I couldn’t work out how to do Graphic Design, so I kind of defaulted to Illustration, ended up really getting into it and turning it into a career.

Right now you seem to really have a distinctive style and a voice of your own – how did you get to this stage?

A combination of being influenced by other illustrators such as Paul Davis, Andrew Rae and The Peep Show Collective, and comedy that I like, like Chris Morris, Monty Python and various other things and being influenced by them all, but finding my own thing. Which has taken years to work out, but I’d say the main thing that goes on in my illustrations that makes them mine is the personality and the humour, not really the style – you can sort of see that it looks like my work but it’s more of a feeling or a vibe, hopefully, when people see my work it makes them smirk or laugh or think – he’s fucking done that again hasn’t he…

You’ve worked with some really big names, such as The New York Times, the Guardian, Orange and Microsoft, etc… How does your having such a strong and distinctive voice work with bigger clients? Do you find that they come to you because of your alternative approach?

I think at first you need to make your voice known, and it takes clients a while to work out who you are, and what you could be good to do for them, and when you’ve gotten to a certain level I guess where you’ve become known for doing a certain thing and having such a strong voice – that’s the point that I’m at now, which is great, where clients will come to me. And that’s great cause I’m much more in charge than I was when I started out so I get to pull the strings a lot more and make more decisions, cause they know that this is the thing that I do. The best clients will come to you and say ‘do what you do, and we won’t try to change it too much, or influence or steer it too much’ – they’ll always get the best job out of you that way… Unless they’ve chosen the wrong person to begin with, which happens a lot as well! I have to be careful to say no to a lot of jobs, otherwise I know it’s going to end up being wrong.

Is there anyone who you would turn down?

There’s not many people I wouldn’t work for to be honest, I consider myself a fairly decent person in society, but I wouldn’t go so far as not working for banks or something like that – and if I did I’d want to rinse them for as much money as possible, I’d make sure that happens! [he laughs]

Maybe I wouldn’t work for cigarette advertising… If there was a company that was really known for fucking over a third world company I guess I would have to say no. The problem is I’m not really that much aware of current affairs and the news to know who’s been naughty and bad! I’m kind of wrapped up in a world of my own – I might end up working for a bad company by mistake! I think the main reason I turn down work isn’t for moral reasons, it’s because I don’t think I’m going to enjoy it.

We love your new project, Hate Mail. How did you come up with the idea?

It’s really simple – I was in my old studio one night, I was drunk, I went on twitter and said ‘the first person to reply to this tweet, I’ll send them an offensive message on a the back of a post card’. And straight away there was loads and loads of responses, a guy called Jonathan Hopkins won (it said fuck you Jonathan and fuck your shit legs) – sent him a post card, lots of people talked about it, so I thought I might as well do something with this, opened it as a service which was so cheap – £5, you send your name and address and I send you some hate mail.

It literally started as a joke, I didn’t ever think it was going to become the thing that it has. I thought, this is funny, and if anyone wants to pay to be insulted that’s fucking brilliant and that’s why I did it – to amuse myself.

Do you ever get any Hate Mail yourself? And if so, what is the best one you’ve received?

Yes I have. I’ve received a few things, one of them was from Oliver Jeffers, who was an integral part of me turning this into a book actually – he’s a famous children’s book illustrator who lives in Brooklyn and I was showing him some pictures on my phone in a pub, where all good thins happen, and he said – ‘this should be a book’ and put me in touch with people who ended up turning it into a book! Oliver Jeffers sent me some love mail, he did an illustration of some puppies in a basket and said ‘why do you have no love for anything?’ or something, that was funny.

I had something from some girls in Israel that said ‘go global you wanker’ on the back of an s-club 7 post-card, because I only offered the service in the UK, because I was lazy [he laughs]. The best thing I’ve received was a Swiss roll, with the word ‘fucker’ written on it, in a tube.

What was the process like speaking with Penguin about getting it published? Some of that work is pretty close to the bone… Was it a difficult sell, or was it easy?

It’s really really amazing, it’s like the last thing I ever expected to happen you know, I would have thought if anyone would have made this into a book it wouldn’t have been Penguin it would have been a small, indie / edgy publishing company with no resources or money who’d have thought ‘fuck it, let’s just put this out’, but to have Penguin who are one of the biggest publishers in the world to actually back this, believe in it and make it, to put it out on their label without worrying about it ruining their reputation – I guess this work has a lot more commercial appeal than I realised when I first started doing this. I consider this an art book, but for Penguin it’s a ‘humour’ title, they see it as a book that everyone can appreciate, which is I guess what I always want for all of my work really, I don’t want to just appeal to the small art crowed, I want to appeal to everyone. It’s much nicer.

So yeah, Penguin wanted to meet me, I went along with my agent, Paul, and met them, chatted to them about it, they seemed really positive. Then I sent all the people in the meeting hate mail, so I said ‘meeting you was a waste of time’,‘93% of the staff at Penguin think you’re a twat’. ‘Your crisps were insulting’ cause they had some crisps in a bowl on the table… I thought, if they get this, then they get the book, it was a risk that had to be taken. And then they came back a few weeks later and we had a book deal, so it was amazing. Apparently things don’t normally work that quickly, so they must have seen something in it worth going ahead with. It’s really hard to tell how easy it was, I think I’m quite a hard working person, I guess I don’t show that with my nonchalant tweets and stuff, but there’s a lot of work behind the scenes to make things happen.

So what inspires your hatred? What’s been your inspiration for the hate mail?

Most of it’s just trying to be funny, lots of people think that I’m really dark, I don’t mean dark skinned [he laughs], people think I’ve got this ‘hatred’… I don’t have this hatred inside me that I need to express and get out. Really it’s just for fun, you know, it’s fucking funny to send a stranger a post card with “if you were a supermarket you’d be a Lidl”. It’s basically like any other illustration job where you’ve got to come up with creative ideas – it’s just another problem solving exercise. So you’re sitting there, you’ve got a blank post card in front of you, and you think ‘what can I say to someone that’s gonna’ really hurt them. Or how can you really put someone down. I think about it all the time, so I guess I became addicted to these things and so even when I’m not doing them I’m thinking about it and constantly emailing myself ideas for hate mail. The next person might get that one, and a lot of them are made them up on the spot. They can go from the simple, just the word ‘prick’ written in massive letters, cause I think, that’s funny because of how it looks, to something more complicated like ‘you are another generic drone wandering around waiting for the weekend’. And that’s more of a heart-felt one where I suppose that is more of my ‘inner thoughts’ where I walk around looking at people and thinking, ‘yeah you’re pathetic’. Some of that comes out in it…

If you could send some hate mail to anybody, who would it be, and what would you say?

[Pauses for a while, and says with a smile] Has to be, a guy called Martin Olley, who wrote a letter to a magazine in 2003 saying that he hated my work, so I’ve kind of had it in for him ever since, in a jokey way. I’ve put him in loads of bits of work and also like to slip the odd ‘FUCK MARTIN OLLEY’ slide into a talk. I don’t tell people what it means, I just leave it on the screen for a few seconds, just long enough to make feel awkward and slightly uncomfortable.

The response to your hate mail has been incredible, what do you think it is about hate mail that people find so appealing?

I guess the main thing is that it’s just funny, it’s different, and not many people do stuff like this. Life is quite boring for many people, I think, this book and this project is very silly, and people really need silliness in their lives. It’s like escapism, you know. I guess reading my book is like watching Hollyoaks Omnibus or X-Factor, you know, it’s just a stupid escape from the trappings of modern sad life.

You’re one of the more prolific and entertaining illustrators out there on twitter. What is it about twitter that you enjoy the most?

The thing I love about twitter is that perfect connection with people and strangers that you didn’t really have before, or would have had to made a lot of effort before to keep up. It’s so direct, people can just contact you so quickly, it’s so easy and so fluid as well. It’s really good for me, it’s perfect.

Like Hate Mail, that was born from a tweet?

Exactly, I couldn’t do any of this stuff without twitter, you know. Twitter’s created it, it sells it, cause it tells people there’s a book, it then tells people there’s a launch at Camden Brewery… Everything starts on twitter now basically, I need it to survive basically, and do the things I do.

Is there anything out there that you haven’t done yet that you’d love to do?

Um… I don’t know, I feel really lucky at the moment, I feel like I’m at the peak of my career or something. I’ve got a book published by Penguin, I’ve got my own beer with Camden Brewery… Everything seems to be going ok, I’m expecting to get run over now. I don’t really know, I just tend to take care of what’s going on each day, I couldn’t really give you an answer to that… I know that’s a bit annoying, but I almost feel like I’ve got everything at the moment, and I’m sure that in six months time I’ll be hungry for something else, and I’ll forget about this position I’m in now and I’ll be looking for the next thing…

I think the main thing I want to do, is to move away from being a commercial illustrator and move slightly more towards becoming an artist, which seems to be what’s happened naturally. By mistake. I find the best way to live is to not plan anything, because stuff just sort of happens, I feel like stuff is just meant to happen, if you just do what you want ‘follow your heart’ [Bingo says with a grin and a comedy voice] you know, if you just do what you really enjoy, things end up turning out, and people end up coming to you, and opportunities turn up. I don’t think there’s any end goal for me, just to be able to do the stuff I’m doing now, forever, and if it pays for me to live then that’s really cool.

So when can we get the book?

I’m doing a big book launch on October 25th at Camden Brewery, and it’s an open invite for anyone and everyone. So I want people to come along, bring their friends, family, whatever, and Byron Hamburgers are going to be there, my hate beer is going to be there. There’ll be a big stack of books where people can buy a book and get it signed with an individual insult. You can take the beer away as well. If you like the sound of that come along on October 25th!

*** Camden Hate Ale ***

Can you tell us about your beer? Camden Brewery were really interested in the book and were fans of my work, and said why don’t we sponsor your book launch, and do a beer with you? And I was like, that sounds amazing! I like their beers, and them as a company, a small newish, micro-brewery who are doing well, have a nice simple philosophy – no bull shit just this is what we are… So they said you can do your own beer, and I said I’ll only do my own beer with you if I can have complete control over the bottle-label and I can do whatever I like – they said ‘yep, we like your work, we respect it, so you do whatever you want and we’re not going to put any rules on it. So I was like great! I came up with a few ideas at first which I thought were a bit weak, we had a bit of a back-and-forth, and then suddenly it struck me one day that what we needed was something that what we needed was something completely like hate mail, because that’s the reason for the beer. So I thought the beer needs to be like a hate mail directed to Camden Brewery, on their own bottle, and then it ties in with the book and it’s like this perfect thing. So I sent them this email one night saying, I think this would be a good idea, it just depends if you’ve got the balls to do it or not, and sent them this rough of ‘Camden is full of cunts’.

I kind of expected them to come back and say ‘no, this is too stupid, at the end of the day we’re paying for this to be made, and you’re taking the piss too much’ and to my surprise they said ‘yep, let’s do it. This is perfect, this is exactly what is should be.’ And since then I have so much respect for them to do that. It shows how much they get it as a company, how much conviction they’ve got to push these ideas forward.

So I then spent quite a few days working on the bottle, I took their original bottle design and then re-drew everything by hand, changed every single word and logo and bit of type, expect their own logo, everything else is completely changed. It reminded me of when I used to be at school, or when I was like twelve, you used to get a letter sent to your parents and you’d change all the words… So like, instead of ‘you’re invited to a parents evening’ it would say ‘you’re invited to a cock evening’ or something like that. So it was just completely taking over the bottle and de-facing it. I basically hi-jacked the bottle of beer. I think it’s great, and it ties in with the launch as a funny, collectors item as well.


Threaded Magazine Interview

Interview with founders Kyra (right) and Fiona (left) of New Zealand-based magazine Threaded.

What is Threaded Magazine? How did it start and how has it evolved since its inception?

Kyra started Threaded while studying Graphic Design in 2004 after noticing a distinct lack of magazines offering exposure for emerging creative and Fiona was a tutor that took an interest in the project in 2005 coming onboard in Ed.2. Over the years our core objective has shifted from being a platform focused on showcasing student work, to a vehicle that profiles emerging artists/designers alongside industry-based practitioners.

You’re based in New Zealand. Do you try to infuse the magazine with some local culture, or is it more international by design?

Although we are heavily inspired and influenced by international typographers, designers, artists and publications like IdN, Dumbo Feather, Wallpaper*, Eye Magazine, Grafik, King Brown, Monsters Children to name a few. Threaded initially focused on offering insights into NZ practitioners but since going international with Ed.XI, we profile NZ-based studio/ creatives alongside international artists/ designers. But the nature of collaboration within each issue is where the real cross- cultural fusion resides and although we are based in Auckland the magazine is multi faceted by design.

Many of the studios, designers and artists you feature in Threaded design their own layouts, bringing a collaborative aspect to the magazine. Do you give them any creative direction to go off of, or are they encouraged to explore their own individual design?

For Threaded to survive, collaboration is key! We are a very small studio and working with other like-minded practitioners enables us to produce a well-designed publication that showcases great work. We are always trying to improve our collaborative process and sure we supply profile guideline’s and set a thematic for each issue but this is mainly for our editorial approach. Our collaborators get to lead and present themselves as they want to be seen and our challenge is to produce a successful compilation publication.

How do you go about finding artists to collaborate with? Are there any people that you’d like to work with but haven’t had the chance yet?

All of our profiles are commissioned, [by that we mean invited] and every now and then we are declined but we are persistent! We still want Eduardo Reciffe to follow through on his promise and we have only just stopped stalking Kelli Anderson – maybe we should start stalking her again…

Issue eleven was the first issue to be sold internationally. Where do you hope to see Threaded in a couple of years?

As a viable quarterly international publication, offering limited edition hardcopies and significant on-line presence and audience. Did we mention authentic, interesting and worthwhile…

What are five things that the Threaded studio couldn’t survive without?

No1. People. Being surrounded by people that are cleverer than us and our families waiting in the wings… worrying about Kyra’s workaholic-issues and paying our taxes.

No2. Personal Memorabilia Objects and places that tell stories from the past, like Kyra’s dad’s bone carvings and drawings, (he died when she was 8). 

No3. Collections Ceramics, Art, Prints, Magazines, Books, Shoes and Wine… if you only you could collect Artisan bread, basically we admire all things well crafted.

No4. Sideline Projects Kyra did a painting/etching for Christchurch’s earthquake appeal last year, she really is a closet dabbler producing illustrations, soft- toys, lampshades, making wallets and small gifts for friends and family. 

No5. Technology Yes it sounds lame but we are always plugged in, did you know that iPhones are the latest baby pacifier –well its working for Fiona’s one year old daughter. Maybe we need to practice ‘unplugging’ both the kid and ourselves sometimes….

What can you tell us about Threaded Magazine that we don’t already know? Any secrets or gossip you’d like to share?

• We are terrible at selling ads – so we are quitting and developing a partnership model with a few key organizations • We are growing a digital arm – watch this space we expect Threaded to be available from the iTunes store and on Newsstand in the VERY near future… until this is released officially you are able to purchase digital versions of Threaded via Zinio’s Newstand here. • We will never stop printing the limited edition physical issues – and these are the true gems. • We do not pay companies to be profiled, and we do not pay ourselves. We do it ‘for the love of it’ and hope that love survives the test of time and maybe one day can pay our mortgage and rent…

Huge thanks to Kyra and Fiona for taking the time to do this interview. Thank you!

Check out Threaded’s site: Download the latest issue (12) on Zinio.

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Quite like this. The images really bring the flag alive. Nice artworking ;)

petemandotnet on The International Flag of Planet Earth

Matt Willey’s TIMMONS NY font, as featured in the magazine, is now available to buy with all proceeds going to cancer charities supported by the BuyFontsSaveLives campaign:

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It’s a lovely font – now with an extended family! Check out our use of Brezel for the Architecture and Design Centre in Stockholm:

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Beautiful illustrations that wouldn’t look out of place in a gallery.

petemandotnet on Riccardo Guasco: Nastro Azzurro Peroni

As Becky said – wonderful series! And yeah Spotify here .. huh. Moving brands is a company worth being here! Greetings, Man With Van Ruislip Ltd.

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