To kick things off, could you tell us about what you do at The Beautiful Meme?
Prosaically – brand identities, advertising campaigns, physical environments and digital experiences.
Poetically – we’re helping organisations create little pieces of culture.
How many people make up your team now, and how has the studio evolved since you started?
We launched in London in 2015 and there are eight of us in the studio. It’s taken a while to get the team right and the biggest evolution was Ross Fordham joining as a third Creative Director. The studio was founded by CD team Tom Sharp and Ben Haworth. Tom and Ben’s creative chemistry is at the heart of our work so for them to meet a third partner who is just the right amount of similar and different is unexpected but very exciting for the agency.
“We’re helping organisations create little pieces of culture.”
How important do you think personal projects are, alongside client work?
More than just important, vital. They are the laboratory in which we try out ways of thinking, new aesthetics and the fringe ideas which will eventually become mainstream. They force us into new places. They let us make mistakes, and mistakes are never really mistakes.
Can you tell us about some you have been working on recently?
Interestingly three current projects all involve print. We’re developing a series of poetry pamphlets, taking a traditional and relatively rigid-in-form art and seeing how it’s changed through typography, print and illustration. We’ve just created a set of typographic experiments through the page, objects and the environment for a European book release later in the year. We’re art directing a 600 page book for The New British.
“We’re art directing a 600 page book for The New British.”
There’s more to TBM’s Instagram feed than just showing finished work. Can you give some insight into how you approach curating it?
It’s a hint at the design experiments that are taking place in the studio. Generally the study of type or moving forms. It’s a petri dish of our current graphical culture.
Where do you look for references and inspiration beyond graphic design?
Everywhere. In fact we probably look outside of graphic design more than we look at graphic design. Currently – the positive death movement, what LIGO is doing with gravitational wave studies, fashion designers from Raf Simons to Jack Irving (see On|Off already featured on The Brand Identity), Mark Borthwick’s latest words and imagery, Japanese photographers Daisuke Yokota and Yoshinori Mizutani, Mark Flood’s paintings, Broomberg & Chanarin concepts.
“In fact we probably look outside of graphic design more than we look at graphic design.”
How important in design do you feel London is at the moment?
Let’s not be parochial. There are great and important things happening everywhere.
Can you name any pieces of art or design that have excited you recently?
Michael Heizer’s ‘City’ in the Nevada desert which has taken him fifty years is too vast to contain by the word ‘exciting’ but it makes me feel something I can’t put into words, which is what art should do.