my good friends from ‘fontanel’ launched their very first book last friday (february 6th 2015), it is a beautifully designed publication by drawsords (rob van den nieuwenhuizen) with several alternative cover images to choose from (available online)
the book ‘dutch design talent – fontanel finals’ features a great overview of some of the most recent young talent from dutch art schools plus a few background short stories and interviews from seasoned professionals like joachim baan, femke agema, kali nikitas and… me; here below is my contribution
1986. Just a few months away from graduating from Lincoln Art School, 19 years young, naïve, restless; I was ready to change the world. It was a turbulent and chaotic time: ‘that’ woman
Thatcher, crisis, Falklands war, Gorbachev and the crumbling Berlin wall. It was also an era of ‘tribal colours’ among the youth; shoulder to shoulder, all highly distinct but certainly not fraternal, no way.
Not choosing wasn’t an option; New Wave, Indie/Manchester/Baggy, New Romantic, Northern Soul, Rockabilly, Mod, Skinhead, Goth, Headbanger, Football Wally, Hippy (if you dare) or even the last dying breath of the ‘Punks not Dead’ movement. I would have looked ridiculous with a Mohican and The Cramps, Siouxsie Sioux, Motörhead or even Wham! just weren’t my thing. New Order: they were my heroes, so New Wave/Indie it was… and your identity meant everything.
The corridor with dark brown lockers, where this picture was taken is still clear in my memory, but I forget who made the shot. You see I had just decided, together with Steve the idiot in the dark sweater next to me, to enrol again at a new Art School. No doubt, the reason we made such a triumphant leap in the air.
We would both move, several months later to Ipswich in South England. A brand new design course entitled ‘Visual Communication’ (Graphic design, Typography, Photography, Film, Art Direction, Animation & Video) awaited us… and not forgetting: fooling around, girls, music and late nights.
And so it went… I will spare you the details but it was a fabulous and important time in my life. In the ensuing years many of us kept in touch. How was everyone doing? Who had the biggest paycheck? Who had landed the most prized job? but most of all: Who had completely and utterly failed? We usually met in London where the most adventurous ‘Class of ’88’ members had gone in search of fame & glory. Hazy & hard to recall weekends, drinking beer (a regular feature), dark Comedy clubs or the occasional New Order concert. However in truth, that time was mostly spent on a couch, smoking hash, gossip, nonsense and stoned-talk about nothing. Being reunited mostly brought out the ‘slacker’ in all of us.
A couple of classmates had got a job in the BBC ‘graphics & animation’ department. I wonder, are they still there?. One of our group ‘Grant’ made a lightning start as a film director and barely two months after graduation had produced his first video clip which was airing (literally) all over the world: ‘I’ve got the power’ by ‘Snap’, yeah that one… A worldwide monster hit and a pretty terrible video clip, to be honest. (see YouTube, sorry Grant!) Nonetheless, we were all deeply impressed; this was also a possible career scenario for a twentysomething.
Yet another classmate ‘Manjit’ worked in the animation team for ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit?’ one of the very first Live Action/Animation films that Hollywood produced (CGI was still a dream). He later moved to California and opened his own state of the art animation studio in the 90’s. He still lives there and is, by all accounts, a wealthy man. (Right time, right place; good for you mate!)
Nobody became truly world-famous but why would you want to?. At a guess, I would say that less than 20% of us are still active in the field of study we all chose, so confidently all those years ago. All the same, I still feel that we were a highly motivated and successful graduation year, honestly. Fast forward almost 30 years and I have lost touch with the majority of them, that’s just the way it goes. They were, at times a bunch of annoying and stupid wankers but I wish them all the very best.
And Steve? Well, he is still my best mate and we continue to share each others success and pain. I emigrated to Holland, exchanged one job for the next ,15 years passed by and I grew up. I got married, had kids and have now been running my own studio happily for 9 years… Tempus fugit. Steve became an art-director, joined the fast paced and cut-throat London advertising scene. He was a rising star, worked at legendary agency BBH, won many awards for his work (Levis amongst others) and was very much in demand for his talent. We have always maintained a fairly healthy form of jealousy with regards to each others careers and achievements. If one of us, does well the other is always courteous and admiring; whilst secretly plotting the next step to get ‘ahead’ again. Trust me… it works.
He has been a film director now for many years and recently moved to Australia. We chatted on Skype last week, catching up about important stuff and gossiping. Even on the other side of the planet, this is one friend whom I will not lose sight of, ever.
We have finally learned to stop wearing the same identical shoes as each other, but for the rest?… For the rest, oddly enough, very little has really changed; since we screamed and took a big leap together; out into the dark, unknown world.
I’d do it all again… how about you Steve?
Martin Pyper – me studio