New interview with Brainer Magazine online now…
Interview by Steve Williams as follows:
Definitive album covers, striking illustrations and prints, an entire arsenal of self-produced fonts plus breaking into the realms of video production – as one of the UK’s finest creatives, Mitchy Bwoy’s impressive visual legacy brims with artistic exuberance and creative intuition.
Tell us a little bit about your creative background, how you initially got into design and what it is about this mode of communication and expression that inspired you so.
Thanks to my parents, art has always been a major part of my life. I was never pushed in any specific direction as a youngster and actually ended up on a biology degree after my A levels. This was a turning point and helped me realise that art was more important to me than anything else. After completing my 1st year of Biology I switched to art college. Although I love fine art - it’s perhaps a scientific way of thinking that ultimately steered me towards design. I still look at design as a kind of ‘emotive visual science’.
Working at Swifty’s ‘Studio Babylon’ during the final year of my design degree was another major stage in my development. Essentially this was a baptism of fire - the studio was buzzing with creativity. Designing layouts and type for Straight no Chaser magazine gave me a chance to express my own ‘voice’ and working alongside people like Fred Deakin, Mode 2 and of course Swifty, was an invaluable experience. After a short while I had all my own clients and was churning out event flyers and record covers like some kind of design automaton!
With a influx of burgeoning creative talent at the moment how do you manage to keep your style and approach to design fresh and what do you feel makes a Mitchy Bwoy creation stand out from the pack?
I learn something new every day and try to invent my own design ‘trends’. Perhaps my work has an emotional aspect that others may lack? I care very deeply about the quality of my work - hopefully this is evident in the final product. It’s important to stay humble and realise that you’re doing this for a client, not for yourself - suffering from delusions of grandeur does not a powerful Jedi make!
You’ve collaborated on a number of exciting projects throughout your career, including working with the likes of Chase and Status, Black Twang, Ziggy Marley, Amp Fiddler -you’ve produced work for Addict Clothing, WeSC, contributed towards Straight No Chaser - Which particular working relationship do you feel has had the greatest impact upon you as a designer and why?
I’ve gained something positive and different from each experience. Each project reminds me of a particular time in my life and the ongoing relationships continue to inspire. They’ve all left a deep impression.
Working with the ‘Marley family’ was like working with royalty - what an honour! Chase & Status gave me the opportunity to translate my cover art into fantastic video work for their live shows (with the Light Surgeons). The Straight no Chaser crew are still like a close family to me. Amp Fiddler was (and still is) a really optimistic and positive experience (that guy’s got mad charisma!). Working with Banksy on the Blak Twang covers reminds me of a hugely inspiring / creative era (it was just before the art world went totally crazy about ‘street art’). Addict have given me an opportunity to really express myself with various ‘signature’ products. Seeing people in the headphones or knitwear I’ve designed for WeSC is super rewarding. I could go on……. :-)
Proudest achievement in your career so far.
Hmmm, hard to say. The Art Basel show in Miami a few years ago was a proud moment - showing my work alongside artists that I really admire (Swoon, Doze Green, Rostarr etc.). The ‘Star Wars’ project with Addict was a childhood dream come true. Candela Festival, Puerto Rico with the Chaser crew was insane! Again, I could go on…….
You’ve produced some truly memorable record sleeves and music related design holds a strong presence within your portfolio. Would you describe music as being the biggest inspiration behind your work?
Wow, thanks! Music is ultimately the driving force. I love good music. It’s essential to my well being.
How much of an impact do you feel the visual image (album art, music video’s etc) has upon the listener’s overall experience of the music?
Hard to give a short answer to this one as each listener reacts differently. As a musician, good & consistent design certainly gives you the edge. As a listener the visual image should enhance the narrative or ‘feeling’ of the whole thing - not necessarily to be ‘in your face’ or dominate - but help tell the story and excite other senses. It all depends on the type of music or performer. Each project commands its own individual design solution - that’s probably why music is such an interesting area for designers - the possibilities are infinite.
Your favourite album cover of all time (that you did not design) and why?
Miles Davis / Bitches Brew - artwork by Mati Klarwein. It’s simply sublime.
With a decline in demand for vinyl and the growing popularity of digital music downloads, how do you ensure the album artwork you are commissioned to create has not only a timeless feel but possesses a quality that will encourage listeners to purchase the CD or 12” over the digital download?
The artwork should translate into every format; vinyl picture discs for the collectors, snappy web banners for the ‘forum heads’, videos for the live performance etc. You need to encourage them to get involved with as many formats as possible! You can’t dictate to the listener - people are really media savvy - they know when they’re being blagged - just make sure it’s beautiful, inspiring, honest and conveys the same feeling as the music & you can’t go too far wrong.
What are you currently working on at the moment?
This week: Andrea Clarke album artwork for Future Soul Records, Redlight ft. Ms Dynamite 12” vinyl & online banner artwork for MTA records, Akabu album design for Z Records, logo & branding for a new promotions company and plenty of events stuff for this weekend’s carnival - hopefully I’ll get into these for free - woohoo!
How do you feel your approach to design has developed over the years?
My arsenal of styles and skills continues to diversify. I can pretty much do anything ‘under one roof’ now. As media changes & develops - so have I. Photography, illustration, typography - online, video, print - bring it on!
What’s does the future hold for Mitchy Bwoy?
There’s some exciting clothing stuff coming out later this year with Addict. Also, really cool upcoming projects as a WeActivist with WeSC. Keep ‘em peeled!