The 20 Most Exciting Artists For 2020
Text: Meg Sharp
Optigram’s a man after my own heart, inspired by 70s science magazine Omni and Japanese graphic designers. He designs retro science fiction and experiments in projective geometry for Hyperdub, and camouflage pattern design for clothing label Maharishi.
Where do you live?
I’m currently based in south east London.
Where did you study?
I first went to Falmouth School of Art & Design which was a really great place, had a lot of fun there, and then I did a graphics degree in Bristol although I spent most of my time doing film.
What is your main line of work?
Mostly design – I split my time doing record sleeve work and other personal stuff at home, and freelancing at design and advertising agencies. Not all of the agency work is interesting but it helps pay the bills. The other time is spent running my record label, Citinite… which doesn’t help pay the bills.
What inspires you visually?
Visually I’ve taken inspiration from a lot places, but just to give a few examples: the 70s and 80s science magazine Omni, the book covers by David Pelham and Salinas Blanch, sketches by architects from Archigram to Zaha Hadid, artists like Bridget Riley and Josef Albers, Japanese graphic designers like Ikko Tanaka, the 60s animations by John Whitney. But inspiration usually either comes from more random and less obvious places or it just starts flowing naturally from the music and ideas.
How did you get involved with Hyperdub?
Through Marcus who works there and who I’ve known since we both lived in Cornwall. Kode9 is a big fan of the clothing company Maharishi and Marcus told him that I’d worked there for 2 years, so he got in touch about doing a camouflage pattern for their generic sleeves. Even though I developed a geometric style for the label the first thing I did for Hyperdub was a green tattooed ass! (Mark Pritchard & Om’mas Keith’s ‘Wind It Up’)
Anything exciting coming up for you?
There are some cool projects coming up on Hyperdub, I’ve just finished a sleeve for the Public Information label which is out soon, and I’m in the middle of doing artwork for Ikonika’s EP on her own label Hum+Buzz. There’s some other collaborative plans outside of record sleeve work but I don’t want to get ahead of myself by announcing it yet. I’d also like to do another exhibition of my work like the one I did at Unsound 2011, probably in London. But in my experience, tentative plans tend to collapse in favour of spur of the moment things so I guess next year is wide open.
What music is inspiring you at the moment?
Well, actually DVA’s album is really amazing and I’m looking forward to hearing more from Jam City – I thought his last EP on Night Slugs was one of the best of 2011. Also a lot of the unreleased footwork that Mike Paradinas played recently at Boiler Room was taking the genre to new places which I found really exciting. 2011 was a great year musically and the confidence it’s given artists and labels should mean that 2012 is even stronger.