Geoff McFetridge’s work captivates me, but at first – I found it quite difficult to articulate why. It’s quite easy to appreciate his style, even fall in love with the chunky monochrome line drawings mixed with flat blocks of vibrant colour. Geoff’s quirky use of perspective allows you to peer down on unsuspecting crowds of hugging characters, the tops of their heads flat with colour but round with life. There’s an easy abstraction going on – swimmers hover in waterless pools, held aloft by those shadows, heads blur with dots on dresses, hands make mouths and faces. Shadows become a second persona, characters formed from smooth, clever collections of shapes remain frozen in the moment.
It’s this captive moment, present in so much of his work, that helps explain why McFetridge’s work is so well loved. His super sharp drawn style, akin to the stunning colour and shape work of Saul Bass, creates characters that are abstract, formed through the associations our brains make between the shapes. It’s the movement and sense of space that these shapes create – arrested movement in a moment – that give the works so much latent energy. Sometimes this energy breaks out, with Geoff often animating his work in playful gifs, but the static pieces communicate just as much motion for me. They are all going somewhere, like a skater photographed in mid air (no wonder he’s worked for several skate magazines and Nike).
Primitive is the wrong word to describe his style– as with all effective design, any unnecessary elements to each image have been taken away or left out altogether. It’s this simplicity that transmits the idea or the captured moment so pleasingly, like an excited, gifted child tugging your coat to show you what they’ve just seen. Any more detail just isn’t required to get the exciting moment across – even walking down a set of grey stairs is made to look like fun – or is he walking up them? Such is the clever paradox between that quirky perspective and flat shapes that it’s hard to tell, which is teasing but not frustrating.
A look inside Geoff McFetridge’s studio
Geoff kindly spared some of his time to answer a few of my questions:
Could you give us a quick overview of how you go about creating a piece of work?
To be very specific: I sit at a table in my studio and draw in a large coil pad, it is around 18” x 20” and I write, and do small doodles, or complete drawings. I try to get out all the first ideas, the bad ideas, so I can get into a more wandering path… to actually go somewhere.
What or who have been your main influences?
I think my first exposure that was a sort of switch being turned on was to people like Neil Blender. He was a super creative pro skateboarder who also drew his own graphics was equal to say… Picasso or David Hockney. I am super influenced by all sorts of things, but it is more about amalgamation of the mass than anyone super specific. The artist I see most in my work is Saul Steinberg. I guess in that everything I do is rooted in drawing.
Your connection with music is well documented – what song or album has been on heavy rotation for you recently?
Jose Gonzales’ new album and Godspeed You Black Emperor
How do feel about commercial art right now? What direction do you think it will take in an increasingly digital future?
I am not much of a follower of commercial art, in the way maybe ITS NICE THAT follows it. When they post work I feel that commercial art is doing great… walking around my world (in Los Angeles) or looking in newspapers and magazines, commercial art seems really uninteresting.
If you could get lost anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
Well… lost with no food or water? I don’t want to die there, but it would be the upper elevations of the Sierras in Yosemite. For me the mountains are the greatest.
Studies catalogue, Geoff McFetridge 2015
And so to the giveaway! I have one copy of Geoff’s collection of drawings released earlier this year entitled Studies. Here’s the introduction to the collection in a few more of his own words:
‘These drawings are, mostly, studies for paintings. I have always been interested in creating work that lies between image and language: Imagery that your mind reads as language rather than being seen as spatial or physical things. These pictures are for me a way to induce a misfiring of our mind, to have something resonate with the viewer. What I am trying to capture is the moment of legibility. I would like these drawings to create a sense that the font with which you perceive the world has been changed.’
All you have to do to get your name in the prize draw is click the Twitter button below to re-tweet this article! I’ll be picking the winner at random in 2 weeks’ time, and then posting Studies to you wherever you are in the world.
If you’re not the lucky one who wins, you can purchase your own copy over at the Nieve store.
Today Google updated their logo and also several related icons and elements of their identity. My first impression was that removing the serifs left the logo looking cleaner, but that the overall feel was on the ‘childish’ side of ‘friendly’.
However, after reading about the main reason behind the change – bringing an identity designed for a single point of use (usually desktop) up to speed with today’s multi-device usage, the look makes more sense.
Interesting how a bit of background understanding can change your perspective about a piece of design! It’s often the images that grow on you instead of instantly striking you as great that have the longest lasting appeal.
Two books well worth a look this month: Earthquakes, Mudslides, Fires and Riots and Herb Lubalin, American Graphic Designer. from what I’m seen of them so far, both have a very strong thread of ’60s advertising and surf culture through them, So I’m really looking forward to firing up Pet Sounds and getting stuck in.
Both payday purchases are winging their way to me, so expect a full review soon!
Gilles Peterson’s shows on 6 music have always been a great way to discover old soul, jazz, funk and disco gems, and at the same time stay current on new hip hop, house and electronica. I’ve been listening to a fair bit of jazz lately, keen to learn more about the genre I probably (and maybe criminally) check for the least, and keen to discover modern acts as much as dig deep through the classics. The last modern act to blow my head off was probably Portico Quartet, who I saw play an amazing gig at the Manchester School of Music.
GP had a lot of good things to say about Jarrod Lawson on last Saturday’s show, and I could see why after just a few bars of ‘Gotta Keep’ – which has become my favourite track on Lawson’s self-titled debut LP. I’d been playing the album all week – his amazing voice and fantastic keys weaving together to create really hope-filled music, and then heard that Jarrod Lawson and his band were playing in Manchester at Band on the Wall as part of a short UK leg of the tour.
I don’t often stay with an album all the way through from start to finish, but this LP, amazingly Lawson’s first – grabs you from the beginning. The opening track ‘Music and it’s Magical Ways’ features Lawson’s voice introducing his band, The Good People, welcoming you along as he sets out to ‘change the world one song time’. This is a big statement, but the beautiful harmonies, conscious lyrics and brilliant musicianship weave together to make a kind of hammock for your mind, for your soul. Many have put Lawson’s music alongside the work of two artists he claims as key influences – Stevie Wonder and Donny Hathaway, and I agree, he certainly brings the same kind of healing and emotional intelligence. Many of the tracks, especially ‘He’s There’ and my personal favourite ‘Gotta Keep’, are prettyup-front in worshipping God, but not in a preachy, heavy way, such is the humility and encouragement in the lyrics and the abundant life in the music. Even people of no faith are talking about the vitality that resonates through this music, it’s that good.
Lawson‘s keys, backing band and vocalists were amazing enough, but having Farnell Newton blow the horn at the BotW gig was a massive bonus. That man can PLAY – no wonder he’s the go-to trumpet player for Jill Scott and Bootsy Collins. He’s a really friendly bloke as well – one of the bonuses at hearing an act play at a venue with such an open ethos (they were really kind in letting me take photos with a ‘proper’ camera without any kind of press pass – for the first 3 songs anyway!) is that you get to interact – Jarrod, Farnell and the rest of the band were really happy to talk with people before and after the show, and even went on to my friend Tolu’s jam session around the corner in Stevenson Square. I left just before all The Good People joined in the jam – gutted to have missed it but the video is pretty special! Sidenote – check Tolu’s outfit Pieces of a Man – they’re local, and top, so if you check for Manchester neo-soul, jazz and funk music, keep tabs on where they are next by giving them a follow
It was a bit of a shame that my favourite track of the album wasn’t on the set list, but they made up for it when, after a little coaxing from a man in the crowd, Lawson duetted with one of his backing singers for a cover of Hathaway’s ‘I love you more than you ever know’, which brought even more feeling to the night, and was pretty special for me, as Hathaway’s classic Live album has got me through a few soul-dip moments recently! A great night showcasing a great album. Listen out for more of this man and his Good People!
Here’s the first Local mix. Recorded on-the-fly at Local HQ, fellow resident Diesler brings the first 30mins, reflecting the jazz/funk/beats side of things, and I take over for the second 30 with a house-ier sound. We’ll be getting together each month to give you a taste of what we spin down at our sessions at Cord (1st Thursday of every month! Plug plug!)
We’ll be joining the dots between jazz, soul, hip-hop, funk, house and beyond – paying homage to dusty classics as well as the future sounds they inspired.
We hope you enjoy, and look forward to seeing you all down at our next one!
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