At a certain age, a person has to take stock of his or her life, maybe tell a different story, tackle a project with a bit more weight. For Anthony Peters, the graphic designer behind Studio Imeus, that age is 38.
“As I’ve gotten older, I’ve wanted to do something with a bit more permanence, like film,” says Peters, sounding not a day over 30. Nor is his work what you’d call evanescent—like the infamous Alphaboobies poster, which has been sold out for ages at screen printing studio Print Club London and became AIGA’s most shared Instagram post ever. But during a rare lull at his studio on England’s south coast, he explains:
“When I go onto Pinterest or Tumblr I see artists’ work with no credit, taken entirely out of context.” He uses the example of Adrian Johnson, the graphic designer whose cycling posters for Transport for London are ubiquitous online. “Without the accuracy of chronology the scene—a part of is largely ignored. Putting it on film actually stamps it into history.”
Peters spent time pondering this when, two years ago, he was interviewed by Print Club London for a short film about his artistic process and the modern creative landscape. “There’s a scene here that popped up around 2000, post-YBA [the Young British Artist movement] by makers whose work you could actually own. You can’t own a Damien Hirst.” He references the 2008 documentary Beautiful Losers, which chronicled the lives of influential do-it-yourself artists like Mike Mills and Harmonie Korine. “It occurred to me that someone needed to tell this story about British artists in the digital age.”
In March Peters began screening “Made You Look,” a new short film he directed that takes a microscope to the illustration and graphic art boom in the UK over the past 15 years. In it, he interviews artists like Anthony Burrill, Ben the Illustrator, Helen Musselwhite, and Hattie Stewart about working in a hyper-digital age. He gets up close with the act of making while taking a step back from the whiz-bang of computer-assisted work.
“Frankly, I was tired of talking to people while they were staring at their phones,” says Peters, who says using programs like Illustrator “feels fraudulent—the perfection feels empty. People want handmade pieces that haven’t been through the filter of technology.”
The film is an interesting development from Alphaboobies and Peters’ wider body of work, much of which marries typeface and imagery. Alphaboobies itself was inspired partly by the work of designers like Stefan Sagmeister, “who build letters by repurposing objects.” While creating a bubble font in the studio a few years ago, another designer happened to remark on the breast-like shape of each letter. “At that point I slowly started building it,” says Peters, “and we chuckled at every letter I made, how absurd and brilliantly funny it was.” After it sold out, Print Club London asked for a part two, and Peters delivered Milkshake, “but you can’t beat an original idea.”
With some distance, Peters can see the recognition he got from that series was “on a small scale.” His Double Act work (above) earned him more views and followers. “But everything is temporary,” he says. “Everyone is on to newness.” Not even he is immune. “Maybe that’s why I made the film.”