Introducing: Luke Tonge
Luke and I go way back and it's a pleasure to feature this interview with him on the blog today. It's so fun seeing how friends from University have developed creatively and Luke is working on some really exciting projects. He has just updated his portfolio on a new website and blogs away on his own blog but also for FormFiftyFive.
Where do you live and how do you think it influences your work? I live in the UK, specifically in the West Midlands these days – and I work in the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham. I love exploring the city on foot – there's some beautiful vernacular type about and some lovely knackered old buildings – I'm not really sure how it affects my work to be honest but its a nice place to be!
How would you describe what you do? A bit of a mixed bag... Graphic Design is the 'catch-all' answer. By day I work at a big advertising & design agency, working mainly on global FMCG brands, doing a mixture of advertising, branding, packaging and digital. Anyone who works on household names knows the constraints of such work – so I scratch my remaining creative itches with side projects and selected freelance gigs, time allowing.
What are your tricks for getting inspired when you have a creative block? I don't believe in 'creative block'! Controversial I know. Let me explain… I totally believe we all get stumped sometimes in deciding on the right solution to a problem – but I believe there are always great connections to be made and routes to be explored, the difficulty should be in choosing. Designers get paid to sit around, think about problems, research territories, explore options, develop concepts, refine solutions etc… that is a massive privilege, so I don't really get behind the idea that ideas are elusive – it's just a question of landing on the right one. If you don't have ONE idea, you're probably in the wrong business. Knowing your design history is a huge help here so you'll never be caught empty handed. When I need some fresh inspiration I either read a book, chat with someone, go for a walk or if possible take a shower (not so easy whilst at work!) …letting my mind wander.
What is your favourite project/piece that you have worked on and why? Almost all of the work I've done during daylight hours over the past 6 years is protected by NDA's so frustratingly I can't show any of that, but outside of 'work' the piece I'm probably most proud of is the Detroit issue of Boat Magazine. The whole piece came together incredibly well – from the time we spent in the city living together meeting some amazing locals, to nailing details such as the colour palette and typography, it felt like a big step on from the previous issue and was a really rewarding experience.
If you could learn a new skill what would it be? Crochet? My wife Tash is supremely talented at making stuff and her current obsession is crochet… it blows my mind! Or maybe bread-making? I'd really love to have more time to work with my hands – I admire so much the skill of the hand-crafters (instilled in me by my wood-working father) and I miss the physicality of Uni days spent making books and packaging prototypes by hand. Maybe I should learn to waffle less? Haha I really admire brevity, I just struggle to edit myself.
What is your favourite song right now? Argh! Impossible question! On heavy rotation on my headphones this week: Polar Bear Club, Foy Vance, Jars of Clay, Search the City, Chuck Ragan, LeCrae, Hidden In Plain View... Actually, my favourite song right now is probably 'Always On My Mind' by Willie Nelson (my favourite song of all time is probably 'God Gave Rock and Roll To You' by Kiss). Tomorrow, a different answer. I also highly recommend everyone listen to 'Wrecking Ball' by Bruce Springsteen and pick up all the EPs by Luke Sital-Singh.
Which designers/artists/photographers get you super inspired and excited? Again with the toughie Liz! I believe in surrounding yourself with your heroes so I'm honoured to call some very talented folk friends – like Bobby Evans aka 'Telegramme', Michael C. Place of Build and Amanda Jane Jones of Kinfolk Magazine. As the next issue of Boat Magazine focusses on Reykjavik so I have to mention the insanely talented illustrator Siggi Eggertsson and other UK favourites Kate Alizadeh and Nick Deakin. I'm also in constant admiration of the AD skills of Richard Turley (Bloomberg Businessweek) and Matt Willey (PORT, RIBA etc) and I'm also big fan of the iconography/illos of Keenan Cummings. Artwise, I love the sculptural land art of J. Seward Johnson & Neil Dawson and the optical illusions of Felice Varini. That enough? I could keep going all day! Oh and I can't leave out my all-time favourite design duo Herb Lubalin & Lou Dorfsman! Masters.
How do you relax and unwind? Time away from work is vital, and I love to simply hang out with Tash watching some TV (West Wing, New Girl or anything ending with 'Hunters' – Auction, Salvage or Toy) – spending time with family, travelling and generally pottering around barefoot pretending i'm back in Cornwall (where I spent happy Uni years). Tash and I love to go collecting things for the house – from shops or nature.
What is your top tip for life? I've been asked this in an interview before and I went with my old favourite, the immortal words of Bill & Ted – 'Be Excellent To Each Other'. I'm tempted to just repeat the wise words of Bianca Cash – 'Be Kind' because I'm not sure it can be bettered, but since thats been covered off, i'd have to go with: 'Be Faithful In The Small Things'. It is such a fundamental key to happiness (and success) that we can all so easily overlook… it's how basically every big break or success story begins. Every exciting role or opportunity I've been offered has been off the back of something seemingly small or inconsequential. A favour for my friend Chez led to being invited to Art-direct Boat Mag. Regular personal blogging on my tumblr led to being invited to join FormFiftyFive.com, the examples go on and on… and whether it leads to more or not, the satisfaction that comes with knowing a job is done well is its own reward