Issue 0 Online October 12, 2010

At long last, Issue 0 is up on the web reader

Open publication - Free publishing - More urbanism


Kevin Braddock (Manzine) On Copying August 31, 2010

Our final interview from issue 0 on copying is with editor of subversive men’s mag Manzine, Kevin Braddock. Manzine is a magazine for that want to escape the aspirational, archetypal, male stereotype of the typical men’s magazine. Published occasionally by a small group of writers who work on other men’s mags such as GQ and Esquire, Manzine is a sort of hobby project that talks about real experiences, whilst sending up the over-exaggerated lifestyle claims of glossy magazines. This makes it one of Article’s favourites.

In this issue, we’re looking at copying in creativity as something that’s useful. In dealing with the myriad influences you have, being subversive or indeed totally original might not be appropriate. How useful is imitation or copying to you as a way of communicating in the right way?

I don’t know how useful it is, but it is certainly inevitable in some ways. All creativity is a product of what it absorbs and reinterprets, it all exists in a lineage or tradition, so in that respect there is probably nothing truly original. What you do with the influences is what counts. Manzine combines a tradition of DIY publishing and the process and formats of established, mainstream magazine production. Those are our two key influences, and they way they react off each other is what makes Manzine unique.

Tracing paper, I imagine, is one of the greatest aids to creativity. Read more ⇒


The Designers Republic on Copying August 24, 2010

The Designers Republic are one of the world’s most influential graphic design studios. TDR was founded by Ian Anderson in 1986, with early clients such as Warp Records, for whom they designed a distinctive logo and numerous covers. Over the following twenty odd years they have produced work for clients including Playstation, Grand Theft Auto, Coca Cola, Gate Crasher, and many others.

Their graphic style is informed by a strongly subversive tendency in which corporate logos, legibility and the authority of design itself is undermined. Many works have employed an intense, maximalist style, where logos are layered and crushed together, adopting other images in the process. We spoke to Ian about copying for Issue 0.

In this issue, we think of copying as something that’s not a symptom of a lack of originality, but a way of using the work of other people in a genuine way, dealing with a whole world of distant influences that are out there. Being subversive and being totally original aren’t always appropriate - how useful is imitation to you in finding a solution, as your work has to have a certain degree of effectiveness if it’s selling something?

There is a sliding scale connecting the notions of inspiration, emulation, pastiche and copying, and generally it’s a question of perception and semantics which dictate where individuals draw the line as to what’s acceptable, both creatively – in terms of the validity of the designer’s auteur-ship and ownership of the IP, and contextually – in terms of the value of the work as a unique and valid solution to the (client’s) brief.

For me there’s a significant difference in using something ‘known’, deliberately and transparently, because it is the best way to communicate the message or solution most effectively – where the source being ‘known’ is key, versus using another person’s creatively to fill the vacuum of an individual’s inability to think for themselves, be it conceptually, creatively, or visually.

For me, ‘design’ presupposes an idea - if the use of existing work or ideas is integral to the communication or expression of that idea then the ‘copying’ is essentially surface detail to the big picture. It depends whether the issue is with the reproduction of the idea or the expression of it.

Read more ⇒


Some More Reviews of Issue 0 August 19, 2010

A few weeks ago we posted some of the nice reviews and things people have said about the last issue. Since then we’ve had a few more!

Linefeed Reading List 08/10 from Michael Bojkowski on Vimeo.

Line Feed
It was really flattering to make the Linefeed August Reading list with so many other great magazines. I think we’re in good company with Gym Class, Sup and Fire and Knives! The review is above in video form. We are at about 9:55

State of Independents
SoI is a blog/research-project/magazine about independent magazines. We posted them a copy and they gave us this lovely review. If you have a chance, fill in their survey about your magazine consumption habits. You have until August 20th.


Nous Vous on Copying August 17, 2010

Nous Vous are a design and illustration collective based in Leeds and Manchester. Their work is primarily illustration based, yet often contains sharp graphic elements combined with the more subtle hand drawn works. We interviewed them for issue 0 about copying.

We’re looking at copying as something that you might do to help you take on other influences and use a wide range of imagery. Without looking to subvert or patronise other people’s work, copying often seems like a solution for creative problems. Do you recognise this as a way of working that you have used?

In a sense yes, I guess every creative identifies certain methods and techniques that create a certain visual language that they like, by referencing others work, something in it that resonates with you. I think what is important if you’re doing this, which everyone does, is to find your own voice with it. I wouldn’t necessarily see copying as a good way of solving a problem, problems should be looked at individually and responded to in this manner as well.

With the internet in particular, images become much more anonymous and you get a lack of depth of context to them. How do you deal with a continuous stream of sources - do you draw from images that come to you from various sources like the internet?

As a collective, more recently we haven’t been using online sources as a rule, because there’s so much and at this point we’ve identified a language and a tone we like to use, as well as several techniques that we’re consistently practising and a repertoire of work we’ve created for exploratory and personal interests. This is just an attempt to make things simple for ourselves more than anything, it gets confusing the more visual research you do and the more images you look at and like, putting parameters on it really helps. Like you say about lack on context and and truth of form that the web presents - unless it’s a web specific image - it’s hard to get anything from it, going to a gallery or an exhibition or actually seeing things in the real world is always better. Even if it simply gives you an idea of scale, technique, what paper someone uses, where it is situated.

Does working as a collective help or allow you to steal ideas, imitate each other in a way that you otherwise couldn’t on your own?

Yes definitely, we reference each other alot but that’s part of what we do as a collective, we’re always attempting to find a unified visual language, but all of us have techniques that are different from one another, techniques that we’re individually more comfortable with. Using different techniques and attempting to master a craft always throws up different problems and solutions, so occasionally our practices will start to move away from one another every now and then.

Can you describe something that you have copied outright?

When looking at a brief we generally respond as organically as possible - to the problem - trying to solve it with ideas, before even thinking about it stylistically. After that point we start looking at our own work to start developing ideas - generally things one of us has done, more exploratory pieces we’ve created for exhibitions, etc. This is why it is good to keep producing work that isn’t necessarily for a commercial purposes, because you can look to your own work that you are familiar with to solve problems, rather than looking for a formula that you think works in that context. When you create an abundance of work you can decide what will solve a problem using a method you’re already capable of achieving and that has come from a place you are personally happy with.

Is there something you would like to copy / anything that absolutely shouldn’t be copied?

It’s not about copying a piece of work or an image for us, images are a fairly arbitrary thing anyway, I don’t really see the point in copying a stand alone image and can’t fathom why anyone would want to, there’s already an image that exists like that, you should just enjoy that one. That’s not why the majority of people I know make images, people are generally trying to find their own voice. I wouldn’t say that were was something that shouldn’t be copied, it depends what your practice is, some of my artist friends imitate and make homages to work, as a point, that’s what the work is about. In the context of what we do it’s just not necessary. I think maybe the only thing we’d like to imitate is someone’s technique, but then there’s alot of people’s techniques that we admire, but part of the fun of practising is working on your technique, when you do this your personal way of doing things is always going to be different to someone else and when you truly invest in your craft, you will learn and be directed by that and your personal limitations.

Have you been copied?

I’d say we’ve been referenced, but not copied. Although there has been times when we’ve seen things that reference a little too closely. Some people need a place to start, to start building a repertoire of methods, techniques, etc and it’s not always a bad thing to imitate something you like, when you don’t have many ideas but an urge to create and learn about how to make, it’s just not good when you present these things as your own work and just consider the lesson in creating it valuable enough. Luckily any one of us always have 2 other people we admire working with us that we can reference and discuss ideas with.


TADO Interview August 10, 2010

Tado are a graphic design and illustration duo made up of Sheffield based Mike and Katie. They work on prints, shirts, toys and even cars. Their work is inspired by Japanese characters and cartoons. For the Copy issue we decided to interview them about copying and being copied.

In terms of getting influences and seeing a wide range of always arriving images on the internet for example, do you often feel a pressure to adapt and try new things, to perhaps imitate? What are the consequences of this?

Of course we’re always trying to push ourselves to do new stuff - you have to really! thats all part of keeping yourself fresh and excited about work. it can be very hard to be totally original all the time. As long as you have a clear conciance and you’re fully aware of what else is going on around you we think its fine to just do your own thing. of course theres probably always going to be someone somewhere in the world who’s work will be similar in some ways - thats pretty inevitable.

Working for commercial clients, and on advertising campaigns for instance, is there a drive to create something that’s been done before because it ‘works’?

We often find the opposite to be honest! because most of our work is for commericial clients we always have to start from scratch with each new job. If its a high-profile piece then the clients usually have an idea of the kind of thing they’d like but theyre always keen that it should never be compared to anything previous.

A lot of your imagery is derived from a Japanese cartoon style of illustration. How do you develop these with or without imitating other work that you’ve seen?

Our work is certainly influenced by classic japanese characters, but also the whole aesthetic of asia - the whole continent is a visually crazy one! However, we’d say that our work is probably just as much influenced by watching supergran as kids, action figures, classic american advertising and british humour. The aesthetic may have traits of asia but the ideas behind it all come from a huge mash up of influences. We enjoy twisting things up a bit and injecting our own tweaks and humour which is what probably makes it our own.

Is there anything you would admit to having copied outright?

Hell No!

Some of your t shirt designs were found to be pirated and sold illegally. Who did it, how accurate were they and what was your response?

The t-shirts really are the least of our worries - we find it quite funny actually and tried to get hold of some of them for ourselves! They came from Bangkok as far as we know - along with a whole host of others which ripped off various friends of ours. There’s pretty much nothing that can be done!