As a teenager growing up in the 1970s, there were no ID cards and seemingly no age restrictions – well at least not for this teenager, who could sport bum fluff above his lip that a cat could probably have licked off. I didn’t know where to turn.
After seeing David Bowie’s Aladdin Sane tour at Blackburn King Georges Hall in 1973 I wanted more of this wonderful eye candy, this infectious music, and I wanted to dress up. I got it soon after, at the amazing Pips in Manchester. A club where you would glam up to the nines and then be able to choose Roxy/Bowie, punk, soul, funk, disco or pop rooms.
In the years leading up to the punk revolution of 1976 and 1977, the Highland Room at Blackpool Mecca was a symbol of Britain’s enduring ability to discover and popularise the great dance music of black America.
After the Highland Room played its last track every Saturday night, many of us would hot-foot it over to the all-nighter at Wigan Casino – a scruffy ballroom, long since demolished, but with a Northern Soul legacy that year by year grows in stature and seems to inspire a movie or play every couple of years. Then it would be onto the Ritz Ballroom in Manchester for an all-dayer.
When punk came along, The Russell Club, a scruffy club in Manchester’s yet-to-be regenerated Moss Side, created an urban hardcore club aesthetic where the likes of Slaughter and the Dogs, Buzzcocks and Warsaw (to become Joy Division) put Manchester music on the map.
As the 70s came to an end I met my now wife and design partner Gerardine at a Northern Soul night at Angels, Burnley and it was a love of music , fashion and design that gave us the confidence to go to “that there London” form a band and set up firstly Red or Dead and now HemingwayDesign.
I first realised I wanted to be a designer and more specifically a record sleeve designer when I was 11 in 1977 after seeing the work of Jamie Reid for The Sex Pistols. Punk had a nuclear explosion impact upon me visually. Jamie Reid’s Da Da influenced collage work, Roslaw Szaybo’s Xerox style application to The Clash’s first album and Malcolm Garrett’s minimal typography for The Buzzcocks are all massive influences that live with me to this day – so for me it’s the 70’s.
Two great things happened when I was born, me, and England winning the World Cup… Some may disagree… My parents included. I loved the sixties, I was a product of it. I owned and restored cars, and scooters and was a most dapper mod. My work reflects many things from the 60’s, it did have so much to offer from branding, music, fashion, cars to space travel, comics, travel and wallpaper of the most disturbing kind.
The decade following my graduation in 2000 is when my real design education began and I have been learning ever since.
My creative thinking developed by working with great designers, being exposed to amazing creative work and having the opportunity to work with a variety of different clients. All of which brought challenges and taught me valuable lessons.
It is these experiences that have had the most significant influence on my work today, as I discovered how much I enjoy solving problems with ideas.
Of course we are all influenced by great work from the past, but the best decade has got to be now. This is a transformative time for the design industry for two reasons.
Firstly, we have unprecedented access under the bonnet of organisations. There’s a new wave of agencies moving into management consultancy territory, and clients want us to harness design process to transform their businesses.
Secondly, we have an extraordinary range of technology available to bring great ideas to life. Never before has there been such freedom to stretch a creative thought and wrap people up in it. It’s allowing us to create impact in a multitude of new ways.
This is a crux point for the industry, and agencies who can grasp corporate need and technological opportunity will do very well for themselves and their clients.