Interview with Director & Designer – Graham Carter
BLIINK director and illustrator Graham Carter has an impressive body of work for a broad range of clients and subjects – yet always retaining that ‘Carter magic’ that makes his work so recognisable and coveted. We asked Graham what are the inspirational roots to his pieces.
What do you think are the qualities which make these projects remain distinctly your style despite the very different subjects?
A: I think whether or not it is a serious subject or something more light-hearted, I tend to approach it in the same way. Obviously the first objective is to answer the brief, but beyond that I always try to keep things quite simple and hopefully inject some warmth, humour and a strong design aesthetic into the final image. Coming from a screen printing perspective I also naturally tend to have a very considered and minimal colour palette which must also contribute to a recognisable style . Although I do like to experiment I think it’s important to maintain an illustrative identity, and that tends to always be in the back of my mind when working – but the more briefs you work on, the more subconscious this becomes.
What tools do you work with to make your illustrations and which is your preferred one?
A: Usually I work in a purely digital way and primarily in photoshop . It’s a quick way to experiment with compositions and colour too. Sometimes it comes down to mood too, as some days I might prefer to sit with a pad and pencil to creatively work a solution. If I’m designing a screen print or a 3D woodcut I tend to mock up things as accurately as I can in Photoshop but you can’t always anticipate everything! There’s always a few surprises along the way but this can keep things exciting. Constructing a 3d object from a 2d design is definitely my preferred way to work but not always ‘speedy’ enough to satisfy an urgent brief!
Which ads would appear on your top 3 ‘most creative’ campaigns and why?
A: Hmmm casting my mind back I think 2 of my favourites actually both come from Honda. One being the tv ad ‘The Cog‘ , using components of the car to build a Heath-Robinson style domino-type experiment. It’s just very beautiful and absorbing to watch, not to mention cleverly staged and relevant to the product. I’m assuming a lot of it is CGI but I’ll be even more impressed if it’s live action. Doesn’t really matter when the viewer is unsure. The other Honda ad being the ‘Hate something, change something’ whistling ad. I’m naturally drawn to illustrative ads for obvious reasons and I think this one handles the overload of imagery in a balanced and well-paced way. The gentle nature of the song and panning camera moves guide you effortlessly through the ad, making you feel all warm and fuzzy at the other end – despite essentially describing a dirty Diesel engine! Another creative favourite that sticks in my mind was Chipotle Cultivate Foundations’ ‘Back to the start‘ animated video with a stop-motion feel to it, highlighting Chipotle’s policy of dealing with farmers dedicated to humane farming methods. Quite simple in a way but I love the gradual change from colourful, round animals/features to grey , processed ‘blocks’ to show the factory-style farming. The wooden-toy feel to it is very engaging.
What’s the best way to overcome a creative slump?
A: I do struggle with this from time to time, and I guess it’s different for everyone and there is no set formula, but I would advocate not trying to ‘force it’. I tend to take myself away from the work environment for a bit and come back to it with fresh eyes. The less distractions the better, so book a train ticket to somewhere you don’t really need to go to and take a pad and pencil and window gaze for a bit. Or simply move your chair to the other side of the room and give yourself a different view. It sounds cliche but little things like this or a walk in the park can help tremendously.
What are some of your favourite projects you’re proud to have been a part of and why?
A: I’m proud of my early work with Studio aka / WCRS for Bupa . It was extremely satisfying to be given trust and free reign to develop characters and bring humour to a project, and to have studio AKA bring them to life exactly as I imagined them. A more recent example would be my ‘Me, Marionette’ solo show at ink-d gallery, Brighton. This was a culmination of many disciplines of my work coming together in one space, such as sculpture, paint, print, puppet-making and animation to form a cohesive exhibition.
Finally, what three words describe your work?
A: Imaginative, detailed, characterful.
To see more of Grahams work, then please visit our Directors page.