ALL ARTS Documentary Selects

FULL EPISODE

Made You Look

This documentary explores the explosion of young people who are deciding to eschew traditional jobs and the digital sphere, and instead are using their hands to design a new world. The film gives insight into how modern creative people feel about living in a hyper-digital age, with its challenges, triumphs and complications.

AIRED: October 07, 2019 | 0:58:32
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
TRANSCRIPT

The most profound youth revolution

I've seen in the last 10 years has been a graphical one,

and it's a very empowered revolution,

and it says, "I don't need to go and get a job.

I'm gonna make my own stuff. I'm gonna use my own talents

and support myself and screw you, system."

And if that's not punk rock, then what is?

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

I think it probably is a human instinct

to want to make something,

and I think as kids, we like to make things,

and a lot of people just stop making things, you know,

because they want to go and do whatever other job,

and as an adult, they'll never make anything again,

but I think there's something inside us

that you just want to make things, perhaps.

Maybe you just want to make a mess.

It doesn't really matter, and a craft, whether it's kind of

a very specialized niche craft you got to spends years learning

or just splashing some paint around,

you know, there's a satisfaction in making things

that we constantly have as children

because we want to make things. We want to make a model.

We want to make a painting, and some people would forget

that as an adult because you don't get time,

or they just think it's a childish thing to do,

but then, you know, make something,

and you'll feel something good from that.

Johnson: My, like, working process

is not very complex at all.

At its very core is drawing, and I feel like a drawing is,

like, is central to everything that I do.

Any idea that I have for a self-initiated piece

would usually come to me at an inappropriate time,

often in the middle of the night, often, you know,

when I'm, you know, in the supermarket or, you know,

elsewhere, out riding my bike,

and it's just the case of trying to document those ideas

as quickly as possible in sketchbooks.

Drawing has always been there. There's always been sketchbooks.

There's always gonna be, you know, I think...

There's always been pencils and crayons and paintbrushes

around ever since I was very, very young.

My mum was doing a child psychology course,

getting different children to draw what they perceive

to be, like, a man and a woman,

and I think I must have been 4 at the time.

You know, like, there were other people who were drawing,

like, stickmen, and I did a guy in a top hat,

bow tie, cane, and spats, and a curly mustache,

and I remember that pretty clearly.

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

Scalpel, she waves it around.

It's just like... It's like a pencil, really.

I use it like a pencil.

I use lots and lots of blades because once the blade

starts getting blunt, then you get tears in the paper.

The paper goes fluffy in corners.

You get, you know, you get little bits of paper,

and under a camera, they really, really pick up.

So, you know, I have gone through thousands

and thousands and thousands of scalpels,

and because the nature of a scalpel cut,

a scalpel is for cutting skin, you don't realize initially

that you've cut yourself until suddenly,

"Oh, there's a bit of blood on my work."

Ah, I'm just putting my DNA into my work.

You know, it's like my signature, my unique signature,

but, you know, obviously, a client

doesn't really want to see that, but...

[ Chuckles ]

Sorry.

Yeah, nature is a huge influence as well

just because I grew up in the countryside.

Where I live, it's half in the city, half in the countryside.

So there's one particular walk that I do,

and I do it maybe two or three times a week,

but I see the seasons changing daily,

and I think I really picked up on that as well,

and that kind of went into my work,

and I'm just always amazed by the beauty

that nature can make these complex structures,

and quite often, they're symmetrical as well,

and, kind of, they're not designed.

There's not somebody thinking about it.

They just appear, and they appear in sequence again

and again season after season,

and, yeah, I find a beauty in that.

♪♪

O'Brien: I take a lot of my inspiration from nature,

and I'm influenced a lot by nature,

and what I sort of started to realize

is that there's a lot of lines in nature.

There's a lot of movement and flow in nature,

and it doesn't matter if it's a hill,

it's going to be the same forever

or literally just that moment

when you see a wave perfectly go over,

and we've got all these kind of movements

and stuff around it, and why not take from that?

If there's a nice shape in that, you know, record it.

Do something with it, and those things influence me,

and they inspire me to take those lines

and movement in nature,

and that's, I think, why I like doing animals

because every animal has its own movement,

and a lot of animals have truly beautiful movements,

and if you can take that and visually put it on a page,

then you've done the job.

I don't think I went through a phase of wanting to be

a fireman or a national or anything like that.

The only things I had at school was art,

and I was quite good at maths,

and I couldn't see how maths would be much fun as an adult

when you don't have to do it, and so I just...

It had to be a creative thing.

I never knew what it was going to be exactly,

but at school, it's just called art

and that's what I considered, "This is it."

When I was a teenager, I volunteered with, like,

our local forest rangers doing stuff with trees

and that kind of thing, and that's as close

as I ever got to not having a creative career.

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

Burrill: When I was at school, I did a project

about medieval warfare, and I drew a suit of armor,

and I think it was, at that point,

it was the best drawing that I had done,

and I showed it my parents,

and I think my dad took it to work to show his friends,

you know, to show them what I'd drawn.

So it was kind of, you know,

they made a kind of big deal out of it.

So ever since then, you know, I think, yeah,

kind of drawing suits of armor

and stuff like that, that's where it all began.

It was a choice between geography and art.

I was better at geography then I was at art.

So I think by rights, I should be a geography teacher

somewhere in the Northwest of England.

Well, my first studio was on the dining room

table of my girlfriend's house, and, you know,

that was just like cutting things out with a scalpel

and kind of sticking things down with a Pritt stick.

So, yeah, kind of finding places that...

They weren't the kind of places that there are now,

so you'd find, like, a corner-shop printer.

I think where we used to live in Wimbledon,

there's small letter-press printers.

So I used to go in there

and kind of mess around with this type.

When we moved down to Kent, it was just complete coincidence

that in Rye there's still a fantastic letter-press printers.

So it was complete chance.

So when I first started working with them, the first project

was the "work hard and be nice to people" poster.

They were using the letter press and wood type,

but, you know,

they haven't printed any kind of larger format posters.

Like, most of the things were quite small.

So up until when I first started using them,

they hadn't used lots of the type,

and there's even now, the fine drawers of type

that they'd forgotten they'd had, you know?

Adams has been there for over 100 years,

so there's lots of nooks and crannies

with odd little bits of type tucked away.

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

Moross: I was learning Flash and Dreamweaver at GCSE level,

and I was just, like, obsessed with Macintosh.

I managed to convince my parents to get me one,

and I, you know, I had like my, like, like a Geo site

and, like, you know, all were really young.

I had no idea really the reality or the real uses of these tools

or the professional uses of these tools,

but it was just like a complete playground for me.

Like, the computer just became something

that I couldn't be apart from.

I think when I was young enough to know

that I could do something when I was a grown-up as a job,

I wanted to be an inventor.

So I wanted to kind of like solve, I guess, design things,

but I didn't really know what a designer was,

and then my second favorite thing was the doll's house,

like, I was absolutely obsessed with dolls' houses.

I'd make everything in there.

Anything that I found, like, the top of a Tic Tac box,

I could, like, work out that could be a bread bin,

or, like, it was just this process of,

I don't know, just pure creativity with, like, no...

You know, it wasn't about crayons or painting or anything.

It was, like, literally just about finding objects

and repurposing them with your imagination,

and I think that was the thing

I would go into my room for hours

and just sit in front of my doll's house

for, like, 5 hours and play with it.

Stevenson: I grew up in a normally weird family

in the suburbs watching the TV that everyone watches,

the things that everyone has,

the places that everyone goes to,

just the most average, boring existence, I think.

Everyone was just, I don't know, like,

given to you, like spoon-fed.

Like, you were just, "Oh, what's on telly?

Oh, the news.

Oh, they've told us this is what we're supposed to watch.

This is what we're supposed to listen to,"

and so I think it's affected me.

"Lost Heroes" was supposed to be...

The idea was that, that they're all sort of actors

that have gone for this role of, like, Mickey Mouse.

So imagine, like, Mickey Mouse is real,

and all these actors have gone...

There's loads of mice everywhere,

and they've all gone for the role.

They're like, "I'm gonna be the next Mickey Mouse,"

like it's... They're at auditions,

and then, like, so this was supposed to be the ones

that didn't get the part,

and what are they doing now? Like, I don't know.

Maybe they're working at the local supermarket,

or I think one of them was juggling.

It was, like, a party, a children's party entertainer,

which is sort of creepy in itself.

So you didn't have it good enough

to be part of the Disney thing.

So he had to then go and get a very normal job

and become a children's entertainer,

and it's a little bit creepy,

and I think he's only got one hand.

So he's, like... And then he's going around

talking to kids and stuff because he wasn't good enough.

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

Cheverton: My best friend at school, when we were about 8,

we'd be drawing these bizarre little battles,

these little stick-figure battles that,

you know, sort of kids tend to do that age,

but we never really grew out of it.

We were still doing it when we were 18,

and then I've got, like, stacks of these things,

and they'd be terribly drawn, mostly ripping off "Star Wars,"

"Star Trek," "Warhammer," anything we could,

but we just got through thousands of them.

We just love making these really detailed little things.

My biggest influences in my working process

and my life is jazz and jazz music,

and the past year or two,

I started trying to approach my work as a jazz musician

might approach a piece in that it's all very improvised.

It's all very -- You know, you'll have your set structure.

I'll be using this color, this shape, this character,

but I'm not bound by that.

I'm free to play around with it.

♪♪

♪♪

Rae: Well, there's something really nice about the moment

you're, you know, like when you're doing a drawing.

You're just, you don't have to think about anything else.

You're just doing the drawing, and you...

And then all you have to think about

is what the next line is gonna be,

and you're in the moment, you know?

It's like... It's a really nice place to be.

My dad wrote some poems about being a child,

and he actually got me to illustrate them

when I was probably, like, around 6 or 7.

So I think that was like my first job actually.

[ Chuckles ]

Although he didn't pay me, obviously.

[ Laughs ]

Wilson: I remember when I was at primary school,

I painted a galleon.

This... I must have been about 5,

and it was the best galleon ever,

and my teacher was so chuffed.

She was, like, spending time with Mom.

My teacher was probably called Ms. Gryffin,

I think, at the time.

She was like, "You've got to send this off

to this competition," and I was so way chuffed.

There were proper canons coming out the back and everything,

and it went off to this competition,

and it never come back.

I was gutted. Oh.

Because you never you got your art back,

and I always remember saying to my mom,

"When's my picture coming back?"

We put up a site.

You know, this was back in the days when just having

a web site was sort of unusual.

So we made a site,

and I think we just wanted to put up bits of work,

and we decided it was a little peep into your portfolio,

and we made a site where there was like a little...

It was really clunky and Flash-heavy thing.

It was so Flash.

And I think because the Internet

was in its early days, and it was a bit...

Well, we was on dial-up then. Yeah, yeah, exactly.

[ Both laugh ]

So you had to dial up to get in, and it'd be so slow,

and Andrew was working for a multimedia dot-com.

Yeah, a dot-com, one of those companies

that stopped existing quite quickly.

Yeah.

So we went around his flat and made this site, and, yeah,

it was literally a peep into everybody's work saying

that's where the Peepshow name kind of originated from.

My working process is -- Switch the computer on.

Wait for it to load up.

I generally will keep on of these little things

lying around, or I draw on anything.

I'm really not precious about what material I work with

or what I'm using or paper.

It can be absolutely anything.

It might be the back of a phone bill,

and that's where the seeds are sewn,

and then I take that and either scan it,

or sometimes I don't even do that now.

Literally take the drawing and work out

what shapes that's made of

and then make in Vector4, and it just evolves.

I have a massive art...

Or I have the art board in Illustrator,

and I'll have loads of elements all over the place,

and open other files that I like colors from or...

and just drag it all together, and then somehow,

poof, it makes it.

It's just like that.

It's like molding clay but digitally in Vector4

because Vectors are brilliant.

Deakin: I've got a creative itch, basically,

and I've been very lucky that I've been able to explore

that urge through a wide variety of mediums.

At one point, it was club flyers and then record sleeves

and then kind of live events, and there comes a point

when you've kind of done it enough, I think.

You kind of go, "I've explored that medium.

I could make another bunch of club nights and club flyers

and club identities,

but I really have eaten that delicious pudding enough times

to know what it tastes like

and to start wanting something new,"

and, yeah, you know when that moment comes.

I remember Pete Fowler saying to me, at one point,

he said, "You know, I'm not doing illustrations anymore.

I'm making sculptures, and it's just time to move on,"

and it's quite a fine-art sensibility I think.

I started using an iPad a couple of years ago

to create images,

and that massively influenced my painting.

My paintings have changed after that a little,

but, yeah, day in, day out, I'm staring at a screen,

using a mouse, a really cheap mouse.

I used to have a Wacom tablet,

but with drawing, I like to use a pen too.

I like to make a mark, and, I don't know,

I've got really used to using a mouse,

and I work quite quickly with it.

Comics were a really big influence.

I kind of started reading sort of "The Beano"

and "Whizzer and Chips" and "Dandy" and stuff like that,

and then my granddad used to buy me

kind of war comics like "Commando,"

the little books, which were quite good for learning

about five German words, achtung and et cetera,

but I went to a news agent around the corner

from my gran's and saw "2000 AD"

and I just begged my mom because I really want this comic,

and she was like... had a little look through it,

wasn't sure, looked a little bit violent but edgy,

and, yeah, she caved in, and that was it.

I had "2000 AD" delivered to my house every week.

♪♪

♪♪

Deakin: One of the big things about Airside

that I think got us a lot of commercial work

was the stuff that we did in the shop

and the self-initiated projects where we kind of always

have new products coming through the studio.

There wasn't any downtime.

If anyone had a crazy idea, it was like,

"Okay. Let's just do it

and put it out there directly to an audience,"

and that, A, will keep everyone happy and fun and taken over,

and we'll have lots of nice T-shirts to give our friends

and so on, but, B, it also was

a kind of R&D lab for us to experiment

and then show our potential clients and agencies

that we could understand their strategic needs

because we had a direct relationship with an audience,

and that's a fancy way of describing

what a lot of people now do

just instinctively, where they just go,

"Right, I don't need to be commissioned to make a poster.

I'll just make a poster that I like,

stick it on the website, and it will go to an audience,"

and obviously, things are much faster on the Internet now.

You get that feedback, and you can learn very clearly,

but that urge to not sit around and wait for a client

to commission something exciting,

if you've got an idea, if you've got the talent,

if you've got the energy, just make something

and throw it out there into the world,

I think we were one of the first people to kind of demonstrate

that that actually had business value.

It wasn't just art for art's sake.

It was actually a way to demonstrate

how well you understood your audience and your culture,

how good you were at your skills and a lot better

than sitting around waiting for the phone to ring.

I had a part-time job in a bar on Brick Lane.

I won't say which one,

and it was great fun because I loved working in a bar.

I did it a lot when I was back home.

I love that sort of camaraderie,

but then on the Sundays, it'd be really boring,

and there was this picture of Lily Allen up on the wall.

I just got this Lily Allen picture down,

and I just drew on it.

I was like, "Oh, that was kind of interesting,"

and then I went home,

and then I have, like, loads of magazines,

and it was a copy of "Dazed" and "ID,"

and I had just a load of them, and I just started drawing,

and I was like, "Oh, I quite"...

"This is quite interesting. I kind of like how it looks

and how it's kind of reinterpreted the entire cover."

So for me, I guess, it was kind of my way of being like,

"Hey, I want to join in, but how?"

and then this has kind of been that window for that,

and it kind of stems back to the whole idea of, you know,

if you want to do something,

don't wait for them to give it to you.

You've got to kind of show them that that's what they need

and, you know, and that's how it's luckily worked in my favor.

In year 6, we were doing a project on aliens,

and I spent ages trying to draw the stereotypical alien

of how an alien is, like, known to look,

and I was around my Uncle Terry's in Sheffield

and he said, "Oh, you know, you don't know

what an alien looks like. None of us do.

It could be whatever you want it to be,"

and when I was a kid, that completely blew my mind.

I was like, "Yeah, I can draw whatever I want."

So then I ended up drawing this one

with crazy wobbly arms and 10 eyes

and just making up all these different creatures,

and I think that is something that's kind of stuck with me.

It's, like, just because something looks a certain way

doesn't mean it has to be drawn specifically that.

So for my style and what I do,

being able to create those fantasy worlds

that was, like, a perfect thing to remember as a child.

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

Well, it's funny, I think I wanted to be all sorts of...

to do shoe repair, plumbing, architecture,

meteorologist at different times.

I end up doing biology, but, yeah,

I suppose I'd still be doing the same.

I live in... I grew up in a village south of Paris,

quite small, like, 500 people, hardly any TV.

I mean, a bit of TV, certainly no computers,

lots of animals around, lots of mud,

lots of fun, you know, playing outside.

Lots of children because, yeah,

there was quite a bit of a baby boom,

so we were a good gang of kids doing naughty things,

and where we could see Paris glowing,

it was just 50 miles away,

and we could see the light, that red glow of Paris,

which we were all aiming for, for later.

I think children, like, 3 or 4, they're so curious.

They're asking so many questions,

and they like the science.

They like the art.

They really love new things, quality,

and they give lots of attention to details,

and they're very picky.

So that's... We're trying to keep that consistent,

and we're trying to produce a good product,

and I think they deserve good illustration,

good graphics, beautiful communication.

Burgerman: I can remember that before you go to school,

like, nursery, I think it was nursery,

I remember that we had drawings of parrots,

and we could decide to color those in with our fingers

or with brushes, and I remember

the teacher saying, "What do you want to use?

Do you want to finger paint or use the brush?"

I looked over at the table,

and then there were loads of kids,

and everyone has chosen finger painting, and it's just a mess.

All the colors have turned to brown,

and I looked back at the teacher,

and I said, "Brush," and I very carefully as much

as I could paint each section of the parrot one flat color,

and I remember I got a stroke of blue

right in the middle of a red area,

and I was mortified,

and, you know, I can still remember it now.

I'm still a bit upset about that.

My dad at one point owned a video shop,

so for a while, I was like the most popular kid at school

'cause I could supply all these tapes.

From there, he at some point got a job as, like,

a sales rep for a small British film company,

which meant he was out a lot, like, on the the road,

like, going around the country selling these preview tapes

to other video stores.

The upside of that was that he would get a lot of merchandise

to promote these movies,

and he would meet up with other sales reps,

and they would share and swap different,

like, posters and stickers and T-shirts

and all this kind of crap.

So I think that was exciting for me.

So he would come back from a trip

and have a boot full of goodies like crap

but, like, totally amazing, and, yeah,

I guess it's quite easy to draw a parallel

to a lot of the stuff I make now.

Hudson: I have vivid memories of Christmastime

making a newspaper/magazine

for my grandparents for Christmas Day

when they used to come around on the Amiga using a program --

I think it was called Pencil,

and it was basically just rewriting articles

from the magazines that Mom and Dad had downstairs

and just kind of going, "Here's our Christmas magazine,"

and it's one of those weird things

I hadn't actually thought about for ages,

and then it came up in conversation a while ago about,

"What was kind of the first

publishing project you ever did?"

It was kind of like... Well, actually as a 10-year old,

maybe I was making these things for my family

without actually knowing that it would ever lead to anything.

Arthur: My aunt worked at an art college.

She worked at Camberwell, and from a very early age,

I'd say about 5 years old,

as soon as I found out what people did at art college,

I thought, "Right, that's where I'm going,"

and I didn't really think much past art college.

I just knew that's where I wanted to go.

So the problems started when I left.

When I was a kid, I hated "Ladybird Books"

because I learned to read with "Peter and Jane,"

but I actually rediscovered them

and got addicted to buying them on eBay.

I really like the sort of more obscure, you know,

nonfiction ones like "Public Services: Gas."

"Public Services: Water."

I actually found this before we set Nobrow up.

I found one on print processes, which is amazing.

If you can get that book, that's really good,

and it taught me quite a lot, actually, about printing

and how to set up a publishing company.

Each book is actually printed on one sheet of paper.

So they'll print on one big sheet of paper

on both sides and fold it up,

crop it, add a cover, and there's no wastage.

There's no wastage of paper.

It all just goes into that book,

and our early screen-printed books

were done in a similar way, where we just print on one sheet

and just use, you know, make all of the pages

out of one sheet of paper and add a cover.

Kate: The premise of screen printing obviously

was in the '60s when people like Warhol started,

and they wanted to produce much cheaper multiples of a print.

That's right, isn't it?

Yeah. Essentially, that's right,

and I guess then lots of artists carried on

because it was really affordable,

and you could produce limited editions,

but they were still signed. They were still handmade,

but they weren't an original painting.

The nice thing is that it's very basic and straightforward.

Anyone can actually be screen printing in the day.

That's why our workshops work really well,

but it still takes months and months to perfect it.

[ Indistinct conversations ]

I guess when we set up, we started working

with lots of people that were...

As we were kind of establishing ourselves and finding our feet,

they were too. We worked with different people.

Like, Hattie Stewart came over to us.

All these people that were really fortunate

that came to us in the beginning actually,

and now, we find we have to go to them.

[ Indistinct conversations ]

People do forget that having, like, PCs and Apples

and stuff like that is only since our generation, you know?

So that's a kind of something that we feel that...

We rely on.

Rely on, but there are a lot of...

Susie Wright does a lot of illustrations

where she inks onto acetate and then prints.

Every layer. And then the next layer

that she'll ink on top

of another piece of acetate to build it up.

So she avoids using a computer altogether.

So it is... For us, it is very doable,

and it's quite nice when people do that,

but then we find that the people that just are leaving college

now, like, 5 years younger, just know it all.

Yeah. They seem to have it under their belt.

So it's kind of, I think,

a little bit of a generational thing

that they actually know all the programs inside-out.

So what we tend to do is just grab them and say,

"Look, do us a favor, and can you do this?"

You can do one without the other, 100%.

Some people in the studio definitely don't use

the computers to their full extent.

They might use it to scan their artwork in,

but they don't work on a computer,

but I reckon they could exist without each other.

Well, actually they have.

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

[ Bell rings ]

Arthur: I think that if everything that we create,

if that just exists in a digital cloud,

then I think that's an incredible shame.

Even if a portion of that is actually a tangible object,

then I think that's wonderful.

Burrill: Because we're so used to everything being perfect

and things on screen being very seductive and lush and glossy

that when you see something like an old bit of wood

with some ink kind of being rolled off a piece of paper,

it's got more value to it

rather than just knocking something out on a computer.

Kate: People want things that are handmade.

They don't want to go to IKEA

and buy a digital print off the wall.

They want to go buy something that someone has handmade

and designed and is original artwork.

Fred: I also think because there is a massive amount

of creative people doing stuff that primarily is just digital

and doesn't ever become a physical thing

because I think there is a real...

Desire. ...a desire,

even for the sanity of the illustrator,

to have something that actually can be physical.

Otherwise it's like, "What have they produced?"

It's a kind of just a little bit of digital data

that just gets lost in the ethos of the World Wide Web.

The World Wide Web. Yeah.

Because you put it in a book, and it's printed,

and you look at it and deliberate, and you,

you know, you kind of pore over every page

and, like, you know, ingest it all.

It means more.

Maybe I'm saying this is why, you know, why print is still

important is because you kind of cherish it, you know?

You don't throw away books.

You don't throw away prints, you know?

They're something that you keep forever.

I guess this is a metaphor

for the way the world is now and, you know,

for the sort of digital revolution and the Internet,

you know, maybe we need to read more books.

Maybe we need to print more books and make more prints.

Fowler: Everything, you see whole lives on the cloud now,

and everything is seemingly invisible, I think.

It's just sort of data,

and I think it's kind of really interesting.

People are kind of harking back for a time

when they perhaps thought it was better, and it wasn't.

I mean, no time is better than any other time.

Musselwhite: Once you reach saturation point,

people look for something else,

and people always look to the past for things.

Maybe it's to do with recession as well,

and there's a nostalgic thing about being in a recession

and needing to kind of strip things back.

Burgerman: There's a million senses

that you have when you're painting.

It's not just you're holding a brush,

and paint is coming off the end of it or a pen or whatever.

You know, it's the thickness of the pen, the weight of it,

the paper, the roughness of the paper,

the friction of the nib on the paper, like,

how quickly the ink comes out, you know, what happens?

Does it sit on the surface?

Does it bleed into the paper?

You know, can I lick it and smudge it?

Can I tilt the paper? Can I rotate it around?

Can I fold it in half?

What does it smell like?

You know, certain materials smell amazing.

All these things add up, you know, how the light hits it,

whether it's warm, whether it's cold,

how it dries, a million things,

and I think these are all things that make, like,

working with real materials exciting and interesting.

What I love is when you get a screen print,

and it's done by the artist,

and you've got all their kind of inky fingers on the back.

It's one of those nice things that is...

Or like Bob Gill, where he had cake on it.

Yeah. So you have different things.

It's actually...

We were like, "What is this on this £850 print?"

And it was Bob eating his cake and having a cup of tea.

It's those kinds of things...

But no one cares.

People don't care. They don't care.

...that makes it a nice object

is when you've got those little private things

that you'll only get if an artist has been with it,

or you've got something that's actually

a physical person rather than a machine.

Which you never get from a digital...

Yeah. ...ever.

With all work being digital, how are you gonna stand out?

What's gonna be your thing?

How are you gonna push what you do further?

That's why you see a lot of, you know,

great screen printers popping up.

That's why Print Club London has been so good

because they saw, like, a niche or something

that could be unique to them, and you see

a lot of illustrators that do a lot of screen printing

or set up their own screen-printing things and zines

because people love that kind of stuff because it's more raw.

It's more organic.

Arthur: As a publishing company,

if we are going to print something,

it has to deserve to be printed

and that if we're going to make a book,

we have to make it for generations to come,

not just for, you know, to fall apart in 6 months.

The age of publishing as a... Purely as a, you know,

dissemination of information is over

because, you know, now, it's about creating a product

that people actually want to keep

and want to cherish and want to collect

and want to display perhaps, you know.

Rather than just have something perhaps more like,

you know, a magazine which is just going to end up

getting tossed in the bin.

So I think that's the difference with print now.

We have the digital.

We have the Internet for daily news

and transient kind of stories,

but we need something more permanent in our lives,

and I think print kind of provides that.

If I was going for a tactile object on recycled paper,

vegetable ink, square format, sort of...

It was essential.

That was the first motivation to create the magazine

to give children something tactile.

We do it for children, but we do it

for their parents, for their grandparents.

We want something that they're happy to share

because things become totally virtual.

Everything is possible with the digital.

We won't even know to feel the real production

like from food we eat to print and art.

Part of me thinks a lot of this sort of,

like, stuff is quite naff, like, "Oh, let's do sign-painting,

or let's make everything look really retro,"

or this sort of...

The aesthetic becoming retro is something

I'm not interested in at all, but the materials,

like, retro materials or analog materials

being used to push them to make things feel modern, I am into.

Some of this fad will pass, and some of it will stay behind,

but definitely access to tutorials online

helped to learn analog skills

like knitting and screen printing.

All this stuff just gives people more things to do, more ideas,

more ways of using their hands, become dexterous

so we don't all just become like penguins.

Fowler: I think it's really good that artists and illustrators

visualize working by hand because whatever I do,

everything starts with pencil sketch.

I mean, remove that from my creative process,

and I haven't got a creative process.

Rae: I got to the point where I felt like I was relying

on the computer too much, and it was around the same time

when I started doing heavy pencil nights.

We started doing live drawing, and I sort of realized

that I needed to retrain myself to draw.

Once I had to do it in front of people,

I suddenly realized

that I need to put a bit more effort into it again.

So I sort of retrained myself to just draw on a piece of paper

without a computer.

Fowler: You know, a pen, a brush, a pencil is technology.

There was a point where a brush didn't exist,

and look at painting.

I mean, the impressionists only were able to paint open-air

because of paint in tubes.

Before that, you were in your studio mixing up...

Or your assistant was mixing up linseed oil and raw pigment,

you know, and doing...

There's no way you could paint outdoors like that.

Everything was studio-based.

So, I mean, the technology of a paint tube

enabled people to make great leaps forward creatively.

You could ask people in caves,

"So people are starting to draw on parchment, you know,

instead of the wall of the cave. What do you think about that?"

It doesn't really matter.

A blank screen is just as bad or good as a blank page.

You've got to bring something to it either way.

It's just another format in which you can draw on,

which is great in a way,

but doesn't really help you if you have no ideas

or can't draw or don't know what to draw.

When something becomes quite popular,

there's always going to be a backlash.

There's always the positive-negative effect,

where suddenly, everyone is drawing in Photoshop

or in Illustrator doing vector illustration.

There's gonna be another group of people saying,

"Oh, we don't want to do that. We'll do the opposite."

And I think, like, a lot of people

after the kind of excitement

and the wonder of the computer die down,

people will remember art.

It's just so nice to make work with your hands.

It's so nice to, you know, cut paper with scalpel,

put pencil to card, you know, do anything with your hands

rather than just sat in front of a screen.

Stewart: Well, I think when there's gonna be

an extreme of something,

there's going to be a retaliation to it.

So when everything gets too digital,

everyone is gonna suddenly...

will want to do something that's more physical and tactile.

Johnson: You ask anyone to describe something,

they say, "Well, it's just easier

if I just take a pencil and paper out,"

and it's that kind of classic analogy, isn't there,

about, like, NASA spending, like,

you know, billions of dollars on a pen that works in space,

and the Russians just used a pencil.

The analog way of working --

It's the purest form of expression,

the easiest way to make a mark.

Kate: I guess in the last couple of years,

everyone has got, you know, the tablets.

The big, big ones that you draw one to one.

That's insane... Like for illustrators,

that speeds things up because it means

in terms of how quickly you can produce something.

Fred: I know it's become more technical,

and it's more advanced,

but is going back to the idea that they're holding,

in essence, a pencil in their hand.

A pencil, yeah.

So it's actually more the more the technology improves,

the more it potentially will go back to the old days

rather than having a mouse that's very kind of odd-shaped,

going back to that idea of a pencil.

Burgerman: But I don't think we should look at, like,

the digital tools as a replacement.

I think that's the wrong way to talk about them

because they just... They're a new tool rather than,

"Right, we're going to put these pens away,

and now, we're going to only work digitally."

Stewart: I think when more and more people

are able to do creative things,

I think it's good because it challenges

then yourself or others to think in different ways

and think of doing things that hasn't been done yet.

So in that sense it's a culture that, yeah, it's fast-paced,

but it enables for a lot of quick thinking,

and with anything, you have the good and the bad,

but, I mean, I get bored easily,

and I'm impatient, and I'm quite like a fidgety person.

So I like... I feel like I'm fortunate

to be a part of a time when things do go quickly.

Hudson: You can come in, discover something,

research it, write about it,

add the kind of context that we try and do

with everything that we publish and publish it and release it

and share it and talk about it all within,

not unrealistically, an hour.

We'll have posts that go up online

that are an hour from discovering to sharing.

Burrill: Maybe when I was starting out,

people had much stronger individual styles.

There wasn't that kind of crossover.

People didn't have access to so much visual information,

so they didn't kind of cut and paste,

and, you know, a lot of people around now, you see their work,

and it's kind of combinations of three or four people

kind of mixed together without that much originality.

Moross: There's an anonymity.

People don't even know who did the work anymore

because it's just been shared so much

that it doesn't have an owner.

When I started having a portfolio, website

was what set you apart from other people.

I'm sure there were even illustrators

that were successful that didn't have their own websites,

and now that every single second-year student

has a website,

how the hell do you stand out from the crowd?

Your work can be a lot more visible, I think,

but then you are shouting from an enormous crowd,

and it's quite difficult to be heard as well,

as well as being an easy platform to put yourself on,

you know, there's like a million other platforms

that are all vying for attention.

So I think it is a little bit of, like, millions of people

putting their hands up saying, "Look at me."

The pros of social media vastly outweigh the cons.

I think Twitter is probably the best way

of communicating with an audience that has been invented,

and since it's so instant and immediate,

and as a way of exchanging ideas very quickly,

we're having that kind of cultural conversation.

The digital zeitgeist is,

you know, far more powerful than its analog predecessor.

That's for sure. There is a danger

obviously that you lose that face-to-face stuff.

I think as long as they're in parallel, that's okay.

The people who are stuck in their bedrooms

with their devices, that would be my worry,

but, I mean... This might just be a cliche.

I don't think it necessarily exists,

and of course if you are really stuck in bedroom

in the middle of nowhere, you have this amazing ability

to be as up to date as someone who is living in Dalston.

It's hard to weigh out what it would be like

without social media, but I don't think I could work

the way I do without Twitter, to be honest.

It's having communication with people.

There probably was once a time

where you had to be in a city to be...

to communicate with people,

you know, the clients and your peers sort of thing,

but now I can communicate and collaborate

and create with people all over the world

from a small town in the country,

and this is where I want to live,

and this is where I want to be based,

but thankfully, you know, we have social media,

and I think it's just joined everyone together,

and I think there's illustrators all over the world,

and they might not know another illustrator.

They might not be best mates.

They might not be neighbors with another illustrator,

but with social media, they'll find someone,

and you can connect with people,

and you can start to build relationships,

and you can build businesses with people

without having to be in the same place.

When you read a magazine or a newspaper,

you don't have something going tweet,

e-mail, and all that stuff.

You go, "Right. I'm actually going to sit down

and engage with this,"

and that's why I think online content is sometimes

so difficult to kind of keep someone's attention.

It's not because it's not interesting.

It's because they've go so much other stuff

that's interrupting them.

Yeah, I used to get a lot more e-mails, you know?

People would look at your website,

and they'd e-mail you and say,

"Oh, I like your site," or something like that,

which was kind of nice, but now it's all gone on...

They just click "like"... Yeah, exactly.

...or "share."

You don't actually communicate anymore in a way.

You're communicating more but at the same time less in a way.

Because I've always thought Twitter is a little bit

like shouting into a cupboard or talking into a cupboard,

and you're like, "No one hears you.

No one cares,"

and you feel slightly disappointed

when no one retweets or something,

like, nothing happens,

and then you get a little bit depressed, but you just...

So I've gotten over that bit, and you go,

"Right, I'm just gonna"... It makes me generate more ideas.

So that's fine with me.

All right. It doesn't need a retweet.

If the Internet was turned off forever,

it would be amazing, wouldn't it?

I guess I'd just go to sleep for a bit because you'd feel

like the stage of showing stuff is closed down.

The way that I make work would probably be

exactly the same, you know?

I'd have to go the library more often to research images

and find information, I guess.

Promoting the work, sharing the work would be utterly different.

So we'd all go back to being a lot more local

and having been lucky enough to have started out

without the Internet being this all-encompassing thing

and seeing it move to that.

At least, yeah, I feel like I'd have one up

on all these little upstarts

that have just come along recently

because, you know, I remember how I used to have to do stuff

before the Internet was around, but my gut reaction

would be that it's a bit of a relief, I think.

Whew. Glad that came and went

because it's such an overwhelming entity

of everything, you know.

It would be quite nice to get away from it, I think.

Yeah, you wouldn't be able to engage with as many people,

and you would be doing an exhibition in the local café.

That would be a rubbish world.

That would be like the past.

That would be like where I grew up,

where people, "Oh, why don't you draw the local church?"

"My nan, she likes the church.

She would like a drawing of the church."

And you're like, "Why don't you f * k off?

Because I'm gonna draw this now,"

and then, like, be completely random,

and you put it up online.

I don't have to look at, like, the local village for, like,

people who are going to go like, "Oh, I quite like that."

It's gonna be...

I can get five people across the globe that might like it.

Johnson: I would be more than happy

if the Internet blew up right now.

For me, it's nothing but pure procrastination,

and not only that.

You know, if I start looking at design blogs,

then it just takes me into this tunnel of despair,

where I just start to feel this kind of self-doubt

that everyone is making this amazing artwork,

and why am I not doing that?

So if the Internet wasn't there,

I'd just start working in different ways.

It wouldn't be like a...

I wouldn't think of it as a negative thing,

and in many ways, I think it's probably a positive thing

because I'd actually have a chance to breathe through

and think through ideas

and actually really indulge in an idea

or a specific detail or style, rather than feeling like

I have to change it so quickly or so fast

because that's the one thing with the digital age

that I think is quite terrifying is that ideas are shared

so much quickly that more people start picking up on them.

So everything goes so fast.

You don't want your work to just disappear that quick,

or you don't want, like, an idea to be used so quickly.

You want to be able to develop it and work on it.

Turning the Internet off is the same thing for me

as turning the Internet on.

It's suddenly everyone is then given the kind

of same-level playing field.

You have big, kind of massive organization at Condé Nast

who are facing the same challenges

when it comes to publishing as It's Nice That,

and they've got more resources. They've got more experience.

They've got everything, but there's still a chance

that we can do something differently

and ignite a different thought process that leads to something

that you get big organizations kind of turning a head

and going, "Ah, s * t, hang on. Who are these guys?

What are they doing?" and I think it's that.

I think if you turn the Internet off, great,

because suddenly, everyone comes in and goes,

"Right, what are we doing? How do we tell stories again,

where it's not instant and shareable and all that?"

And you go back and go, "Right, if it's print, what is it?

If it's events, what is it?

What are those things that people haven't thought about?"

I'd love that.

I'd massively embrace the idea

of turning the Internet off for a bit.

I'd like to see the chaos that would ensue in the world

in the interim of people going,

"Hang on, perhaps you don't need it.

We did live without it at some point,"

but it's just changed the world

enormously in every single aspect, really,

and it's so hard to imagine a world without it.

I would love to see a world without it,

just to see what happens.

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

Just because there's more stuff

and we can see more stuff more quickly

doesn't mean necessarily you're going to become

as well-known or your style

will burn out as fast as any time before.

To get through is a bigger hurdle than it's ever been,

and then if you actually do that,

then you've shown some kind of resilience

and something about you that maybe other people don't have,

and that's actually going to put you in good stead,

and you might be around for longer.

Stewart: There's so many people wanting to do something,

but there's not as many platforms.

So let's try and make our own, and I feel like

that's what illustration has done,

and graphic arts has done recently is,

it's opened up, like, the floodgates,

and so now there are a lot more opportunities

and a lot more ways to create if you want to.

Hudson: I think if you exist in a world

where everyone operates in a very similar way,

it becomes stagnant.

It becomes kind of too familiar,

and I think you lose an element of excitement.

I think when you get that spark of someone

doing something a little bit differently

or just putting something out there in a different way

or the way in which they think or the way in which they behave,

that's what moves things forward.

That's what kind of... That's what keeps people on their toes.

O'Brien: It would be nice for the world

to recognize graphics

and illustration more than they do.

I think you have kind of rock stars

in the graphic-arts sphere,

and we all know who they are, and we all admire then,

but the public don't know who any of these people are,

and it's part of their lives.

You know, maybe they'd be interested

because people are interested in who fashion designers are

and people who are interested in sort of fine artists

to an extent, but the greats probably know

who Banksy is, but people don't...

probably couldn't name a single illustrator.

It is a growing industry, and I know there's lots

of artists, illustrations, photographers,

but I'm sure that there is room for everyone.

Kate: Illustrators and designers now are branding themselves.

I think that's the thing that's most interesting to me

is that when we started,

they were just illustrators and doing a job

whereas now, people like Kate Moross, Anthony Burrill,

Pure Evil, they are massive brands,

and so people not only buy their artwork,

but people want them to come and do lectures.

People want them to, like, be brand ambassadors of things

not even related to the creative field.

O'Brien: If you're passionate, and if you're exciting,

if you love what you do then you just do it,

people will respond to it.

To the young people coming up now, screen printing

and letter press -- That's new media.

I mean, the phone in their pocket is a 24/7 companion,

and for our generation, it's still quite exciting.

I think people pull the smartphone

out of their pocket and go, "Whoa. I can see where I am

on a map, and I'm in the middle of the street.

Oh, my God," but, you know, for any 15-year-olds,

that is normal and boring.

Much more exciting to have a squeegee in your hand

and pull it across the screen

and see how sway the red of an illustration

that you've drawn come out on a piece of paper.

My god, that's new technology.

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

STREAM ALL ARTS DOCUMENTARY SELECTS ON

  • ios
  • apple_tv
  • android
  • roku
  • firetv

FEATURED PROGRAMS

World Channel
Vienna Blood
Under a Minute
The Cardinal’s Files
Talking Pictures with Neil Rosen
Room Tone
Reel 13
Pioneers of Television
PBS Remixed
PBS Online Film Festival
PBS Indies
Open Studio with Jared Bowen
One Day in the American City
On Story
New York Documentaries