If you’ve been around British nightlife and music any time in the last year, there’s a very good chance that some of the most arresting graphics and visuals you’ll have encountered were produced by a small London art and design practice, Studio Calm & Collected. Formed by Adam Bletchly and Donal Sturt the studio acts as an umbrella for the collaborative and experimental projects that the two work on together.
Both artists work in their own right, but in tandem they’ve produced work as disparate as visuals for Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Music label, along with record sleeves, a tropical-themed party to launch the S.A.D. book, along with flyers and promo videos. The pair are currently working on t-shirt designs for Dalston’s NTS Radio and creating the poster for Mexico’s NRMAL music festival.
‘The music/event/brief that I am working to create visuals for will always act as a starting point for the design,’ says Donal. ‘Sometimes this is evident in the final outcome and sometimes not.’
‘A lot of the time there is some sort of idea that the artwork/event is to be based on,’ adds Adam. ‘So usually, with some creative freedom, you can loosely create artwork around that. However depending on the relationship and trust that's been built up with the client or artist, you can sometimes be given complete freedom to develop a route that you see appropriate.’
Despite their relative youth, both comment on how the pace of digital change has already altered the landscape from when they started working. Despite their relative youth, both comment on how the pace of digital change has already altered the landscape from when they started working. ‘Back when I was studying there was definitely much less of an internet presence and fewer publications around to provide inspiration,’ explains Adam. ‘I used to go to a lot of old bookshops and car boot sales to find weird old printed stuff. I used to really love all of the old Bluenote jazz record sleeves, and advertising in old magazines, which gave me a lot of ideas for my work back then. I guess it was all the building blocks to what I do now.’
As a result of forming their ideas through this transition period, C&C’s work occupies an interesting place: technologically adventurous and pushing at the boundaries of design’s rules, but with a very human, hand-made and –manipulated feel. Outmoded characters and icons sit comfortably alongside clean, minimal photography and video loops. Pulling together a grab-bag of disparate influences, but showing how they logically join together the studio’s work feels perfectly aligned with the most interesting aspects of the UK’s music and nightlife right now. ‘London and the UK is renowned worldwide for its nightlife and music culture. London is a really culturally diverse city and has been associated with the birth of some really inspiring youth and music subcultures and associated nightclubs,’ says Donal. ‘Having lived in a few other countries we always find ourselves getting drawn back to London. It’s such an exciting place to live, work and party.’
Studio C&C are currently working on a new clothing collaboration which will be available in Dover Street Market later this year.