3 Degrees of Inspiration: Stuart Geddes, James Langdon & Gavin Wade

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Editor’s Note: This is the latest installment of Emily Potts’ inspirational series on design inspiration. Every other week she features three artists whose work offers fresh, fun, and stimulating creative inspiration. Each artist picks the next link—someone who personally inspires him/her. Check out the previous part in the series, featuring Santiago Carrasquilla, Wade Jeffree, and Sons & Co.

Sons & Co. is inspired by …

Stuart Geddes

Stuart lives in Australia, but has a connection with New Zealand through his magazine Head Full of Snakes. In person he is modest and eager-to-talk design—things we like very much. Stuart works alone and with like-minded collaborators, and there’s always something enduringly appealing about small studios producing big work.

This is crazy stuff—from both the client and designer. Made over three years, with over 1,600 pages, each with a unique design, Mongrel Rapture isn’t a coffee table book to dip in and out of. It’s a sustained effort, a considered rant about architecture in a kaleidoscope. There’s a solid case to suggest Stuart’s dedication to work is unhealthy, and Mongrel Rapture must be Exhibit A. The book is artistry, conviction, and madness. It’s a great title, too.

Before this, I’d never seen bill stickers that weren’t advertising. Is Not Magazine was a 2 x 1.5 meter magazine stuck up around Sydney and Melbourne. Every issue had a theme, but I can only remember one— “Beatles v Stones” —and the magazine had everything from long-form essays, to funnies, to crossword puzzles. Instead of page numbers, the poster had grid references at its edges, like a map, so you could say, “go to G7, there’s something puerile there you’ll like.” When I was living in Melbourne, sitting at my tram stop, I used to watch people leaning against lampposts reading the magazine intently. I once saw a bearded guy jump off his motorcycle, rip a poster off the wall, roll it up and slip back into traffic with it tucked under one arm. Stuart probably.

Stuart Geddes is inspired by …

James Langdon

Each time I see something that James has made, it takes me more time than I’d expect to figure out what it is I’m looking at. I’m usually left with the strangely disconcerting feeling of looking at something that’s conspicuously new, but that seems like it must have always existed. He often works collaboratively, with a range of surprising and brilliant people, including Gavin Wade from Eastside Projects.

This little book, by James and artist Uta Eisenreich, is part script, part documentation, part notation, for a series of works and performances by the artist and her collaborators (which includes James). A key starting point for the research for these works is a 1922 Gertrude Stein play called Objects Lie on a Table. Despite being such a slim book, and small (a pocketbook, really), it’s a virtuosic piece of typesetting, and a delightful work of color and printing.

As I’m someone who mostly designs books, James’s book about books is a key work for me, and one that I think about and go to often. It’s one of my key reference points when thinking about the idea that books don’t just have to be about something, they can also be busy doing that thing. Book, and its counterpart, an exhibition called Book Show at Eastside Projects in Birmingham, both refer to ‘The New Art of Making Books’ (1975) by Ulises Carrión.

Stuart is also inspired by …

Gavin Wade

James has just finished what looks like an excellent new book with artist and Eastside curator Gavin Wade, called Upcycle This Book. It explores a practice that Gavin refers to as ‘upcycling’ a process of stealing, copying, recycling, using other texts and artworks, and responding to existing conditions. Gavin conceived of and wrote the book, while James designed it. They did a Kickstarter campaign to get the backing to publish the book.

Tune in next time to see where the links take us!