Dylan just gets you in the gut. And in the head. And in the heart. If aliens landed and needed to choose a body of work to understand the Earth’s inhabitants, they could sidestep Picasso and Shakespeare and head straight for Bob. No matter where you’re at, Dylan’s got it covered. Whether you’ve “been out in front of a dozen dead oceans,” or you’re feeling “like a slave in orbit beaten till he’s tamed,” Dylan can turn a phrase that will hunt you down and haunt you. However great the song writing though, it’s his transcendent performances that deliver boundless creative possibilities. If even a shadow of the exuberance, exasperation and beauty of Dylan’s voice could be translated as graphic design then we could be satisfied with our work.
Tender and monstrous. Listening to the Dirty Three while you work will enhance any creative endeavour by 247.6%.
Rosalie Gascoigne collected weathered junk and transformed it into a revelatory expression of the spirit of place. We even wrote a song about her. The last verse goes like this:
My man’s at the telescope / The Milky Way burning / All through the night / But the bones, wire and waste / Rusted red and bleached white / I can’t leave this place
One of the greatest reactionary victories has been to make Marx seem irrelevant or poisonous. Millions of ordinary people believe Marx’s ideas are hostile to our best interests – even as his legacy continues to temper our exploitation. Citing extraneous examples of murderous totalitarian autocrats like Stalin and Mao, the ideology of individualism is played against the ideal of collectivism, as if real individuality was opposed to real community. If you’re a designer, check out Marx’s writing on alienation and commodity fetishism... if you sleep well that night, just read it again closer in the morning. The revolutionary potential of the contemporary working class can be disputed, but the idea that humans have the ability to radically change their world for the better is about as inspiring as you can get.
Teaching in parable, paradox and metaphor, Jesus Christ had one of histories most influential creative imaginations. And while a powerful minority use him to wage war on the poor, he was conversely one of the greatest humanitarian socialists. Whether he is received as the Son of God, a mortal prophet, or an ambitious carpenter, he is a rare symbol of human potential.
The Saints were ‘Stranded’ in this town that was their home. Grant McLennan from the Go-Betweens sang “we found this town in a coma.” Into the 1970’s when other Australian cities were finally loosening up, Brisbane was locked down in a stifling cultural malaise. The long-ruling conservative government was a corrupt and violent vortex of regression. Today the city is open, edgy, epic and intimate all at once. The late afternoon sunlight is magical, and the scale and pace of the town is as easy as you want it. The music is as irrepressible as ever, and the arts community is vibrant and unpredictable. Of course there’s plenty of new problems (and those that linger), but it’s easy to forget there was a time when to leave this city was actually to escape. Now the dredged, muddy river that winds through its heart – some days, when the light is right – almost looks blue.
Art is mysterious and physical. It’s made and experienced in the material conditions of history. But the best stuff somehow transcends these strictures by confronting them. Berger was probably the most useful thing we took from Art College. Berger and semiotics – but it’s a bit harder to get excited about semiotics.
The redback is a tiny native Australian spider with a dangerous bite that thrives in urban areas. The thrill of seeing a Redback Graphix screen-print posted on a city wall was to feel the sting of a little dissenting venom puncture the badly clotted veins of compliant mainstream discourse. Question: If the unemployed are dole bludgers, what the fuck are the idle rich? Answer: [an image of] a chimpanzee sipping Puerto Rican rum under a parasol. Their rushed and raw images attacked a docile culture of conformity, and helped inspire the birth of Inkahoots. Creative political expression has been one of our aims ever since.
Within easy reach of our city-based studio is an incredible diversity of natural landscapes. A lot of time is spent here in the living geometry and disorder of these intense visual experiences. Vast beaches; densely layered tropical rainforests; ragged mountain ranges, gorges and waterfalls; empty red arid expanses; the world’s largest sand islands, with crashing surf and still freshwater lakes. The spirit of these places, as well as their aesthetics, will always have a deep impact.
It always comes down to this?
This list was originally compiled for a publication by Anja Lutz and Anna Gerber - Influences: A Lexicon of Contemporary Graphic Design Practice