Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy Super Duper Nova New Year

This morning I finished my collage for a secret club's upcoming collage show Super Duper Nova using the materials sent to me by Garudio Youth. Garudio Youth is the intern "wing" of Garudio Studiage so what they sent was a collection of Peckham placemats, plasters and plastic coated stuff - all hideous, but good fun to try to turn it around.

The Super Duper Nova show opens on 18th January at the cinema Øst for Paradis in Aarhus, Denmark and runs until 29th January. We got more than 25 artists and designers to send random bits of paper to each other and then create a collage from what they received. For the show we're publishing a limited edition catalogue/zine (32 pages) which can be pre-ordered from the new schhhop of a secret club.

Here's a mock-up preview, not at all final layout:

Monday, December 05, 2011

offline online advent calender

Last year around this time a secret club created a little online experience or activity every day for our advent calender playing with the idea of taking an online activity and method of delivery out of the computer, there were paper kits, collage challenges and so on.

This year, our advent calendar is running on the four Sundays leading up to Christmas - this is major thing in continental Northern Europe and this time, it's even more removed from the internet that hosts it: It's a geographical game (we love geographical games) and by following the instructions posted on the website, you will find a creation of ours in the landscape in and around Aarhus.

This was the first one, now taken offline, so the directions to it are gone, but the little house is still out there for passers by to see.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

on the bus with the drunks
A cool thing about having moved to Denmark is that the drunks often are harmless and genuinely kind people, so on the bus yesterday, we needed a space for Mio's now Danish ship like pram. (if you're not familiar with Danish perambulator design: They are huge beasts.) The following exhange took place:

Very drunk drunk whispering woman: "What's his name."
Me, sober: "Mio."
Woman: "Mio, eh. Sometimes people give their children strange names. My eldest granddaughter is called Naninja."
Me: "Oh." I fought hard not to speak of deathly silent killers.

Long pause

Woman, staring at the green buttons on Mr Mio's jacket: "Little amphibians jumping around."
Me, thinking she's halucinating: "Sorry, where?"
Woman, still staring: "Aren't Naninjas little green amphibiams jumping around the sewer and a giant rat is their boss?"
Me: "Oh! No, they're Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but I see what you're getting at."


Me: "That could be a cool, modern name."
Woman: "Yes, the name of the child is...da-da-da da-da-da da-da-da"
And then we came to the place where the drunks hang out and she got off.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

I Am Legion - For We Are Many

Quick and dirty post to let you Son Franciscans (Daughters too) to get yourself over to 1AM gallery on 4th November as the A3 custom show I Am Legion - For We Are Many opens.

As mentioned before, my last custom toy will be on display, seeing the mad skills of the other artists, quitting seems a good idea, some of this work is astounding.

My little scene, showing the museum of dismantled warheads is called "Lemonade" for a number of reason that you no doubt will have figured out before reading this.

Huge thanks to J Brown/Anubis2night for making me do this.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Last Job

you, know. The one that goes wrong in movies, the one were people get hurt. All of this might still happen, but so far it hasn't been too bad.

in 2004 I entered a design competition to design the graphics for a designer toy, so did my wife - whom I hadn't met then. We both won and we didn't meet until years later, but that's another story. In this story, entering that competition was just another way to use graphic design, but through it I discovered the world of designer toys, I quickly decided to produce my own toy, this became the Antlor paper kits but that's also another story, because the real story is that it got me started making "customs" - existing toys you cut up, subtracted from, added to, painted and exhibited. I had a blast, I worked with techniques of my childhood, but better, wiser, faster. I learned a lot about materials and methods through this. I met many a good guy or girl and some not quite so good, as you do no matter what you do.

a few years on, I started to tire of the whole thing, during a talk with Matthias Hübner we discussed how narrow the scope of these toys is, how they're all based on cartoons, how it's a stagnant art form. I decided to quit - every now and again I'd make a custom because a friend asked. Once you quit the scene, you're fast forgotten.

I wasn't aware of it, but my creations lived a quiet, but appreciated, life on an online discussion board. Through this, I was invited to create work for the exhibition "I Am Legion - For We Are Many" and I lurked the board and the stuff people wrote put a smile of my face. "They like you." My wife said. "I think you need to do this." she said. I knew. I had to do it, but it also had to be the last job and doing a last job feels very good. The aerosols are empty, the old model kit parts are all gone and this is what's left.

There's a very pleasant interview up on Spanky Stokes

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

the streets of Aarhus
It's no secret that I miss the art, design and inspiration of London and that Aarhus is lacking edge. I've ranted about crap galleries before and it made me very happy that Art Snob has now shut. On Sunday, however, Aarhus showed itself from its good side and gave me this:

First is a page from a porn mag, made harmless with plasters. This made me smile, the porn is disarmed but in a slight off putting way.

Second is a couple of Lego 19s added to already too many, turning it into a Paul Hardcastle song. I read about the guy doing these and the article mentioned that he repaired buildings with Lego, i figured it was just another rip-off artist, ripping off Jan Vormann but his house numbers are good. Why do so many Danes think we don't google the same stuff they do or look in the same Die Gestalten books?

Anyway, last image is an ornamental Jack White, I do love this model kit urge to accurize your house's ornaments, crap as it may look.

Actually, that's not all we found, we found one of these little unmanned shops you usually only find in the countryside too, we bought a metal fish-mould and an old tin that used to be the home of some ice cream that went under the name Tripoli, but more about them later.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Jam sessions
Summer is truly over and one of the studio/family's autumn activities is foraging, well, foraging and scavenging is an all year activity, but autumn is more foraging for foods that scavenging for building materials and each progressive year we gather more and more food.

Making jam, jellies and syrup may have little to do with art and design, but the more varied stuff you do, the more varied thinking you will be capable of.

also, the better the stuff you smear on your bread in the morning, the happier you are. So far this year we have made rosehip jam, rosehip syrup, apple/rosehip jelly (quite stiff due to high pectine content in the apples), pear syrup, elderberry syrup (and elderflower cordial in spring) and chunky, cardemommy apple jam and finally these ten jars of blackberry jam, they need to last until next year:

It's funny how you get national differences in jam making, traditional Danish way is to rinse the glasses in some stuff with amazing packaging called Atamon but there's really no need for this chemical if you just sterilise your jars well.

Annabelle will have a more substantial blog post on this including the great labels she makes for all these goodies at some point.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

24 hours in Svendborg, Denmark

About a month ago I spent exactly 24 hours in the small harbour town of Svendborg for a course development meeting for one of the places I teach, I say course development meeting, but it was way more than that, good food, good jokes and a lovely hotel room that was stripy:

When I looked out the window I could see a stripy building and when I took a walk on the harbourside, I saw a star surrounded by stripes. This town is all about sailing and shipping and the building of ships and it's all over town. This place is filled with drunk ghosts brawling and Gods trying to save their souls, its workmanship and its tall tales and sights you wouldn't believe.

This place holds its history dear, there's a part of the harbour reserved for tall ships, but they move on too - it's not a tacky tourist trick, this maritime back story, it's just part of what this place is, many a Danish town, including the one that's currently my home, could learn from this.

Something I've found in several of the smaller towns I've been to, is that developers are beautifully absent - developers are currently destroying the soul of my town, everything is made slick and pretty, so most things that are left alone gains a certain interestingness here - merely because there's so little of it. (Which is sad from a creative point of view.) I walked around the next morning to explore before heading home, chatted to the amazingly friendly people of this town and stumbled across this old-shop-turned-subconscious-artwork:

Two drunks approached me and told me that the guy who owns it made the door our of an old fireplace, but that he'd never really done any more work on it.

There are good shops too, possibly the most interesting bookstore I've seen in Denmark is here, it's called "Troels"and the geeky staff was throwing pop-cultural references at me as if they were Kevin Smith characters, there's heaps of ornamental architecture everywhere and there's a bakery with no less than three signs out for reasons that escape me.

From this place you can sail to a number of small Islands and I'm very tempted to take a secret club around them, but we'll need a bigger boat, or just any boat.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

make medals - fake medals - part II

We are breaking out the old medal faking kit that last saw action about a year ago at Port Eliot Festival but this time in Aarhus, Denmark as part of Aarhus Festuge.

We'll be in Tivoli Friheden on Sunday 4th September from 12.00 and the last fake medal will be started at 17.00 so drop by to get the honour and glory you deserve!

We'll be bringing a lie generator this time and new and improved medal faking materials, so drop by and brings your wits, the lie generator feeds of wits.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Tale of the severed head

Today I picked up a parcel from the post office, they'd sent me a letter that I had to pay some import fees - the danish postal service like their fees, this one broke down like this: Customs: 33 dkr, handling fee (that is, determining that I had to pay 33 dkr): 128 dkr VAT on handling fee: 32 dkr. A customs declaration was on the package so determining the value was not a 160 dkr job but when I saw the box, I couldn't really blame them for wanting to open it:

Despite the typo it's still a disturbing box to get your paws on, I should mention that the box was roughly head sized too. I'm not sure people who mail severed heads to people get boxes printed for them, though.

Once opened the contents were less disturbing:

More as it happens. I will be customizing vinyl again for the first time in a while, this head is a bit daunting.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Studio tour: The stuff around us
We have finished (well, we still need to make a movie) our "Spirits of the Forest" project, school's out, so no more teaching and most clients are away on holiday so let me use the time to show you round the place, you see, we moved about 4-5 months ago and sadly the new place didn't allow for a separate studio so we've engaged in a strict Not-too-much-stuff regime as the boundary between work and living has been blurred. This doesn't mean minimalist Scandinavian living like in the mags - objects feed our brains, so here are some objects that made the cut:

Don't be fooled, the clipboard look neat here, but the truth is that the photo was taken RIGHT after they got up in that old magazine rack. Also, we have more than one magazine but one is allowed in the rack at a time - at the time it was an issue of the always mind blowing Raw Vision. Right now, there are two issues of It's Nice That (3+4), Latest issue of CUT, an old Lodown, a print sample of a parenting mag and The Guardian from June 11th (We miss The Guardian so Chris of Garudio Studiage with whom I used to teach at Central Saint Martins sent us a copy back in June - If you want to send us a copy of The Guardian in exchange for anything bar our souls, please get in touch.

The candle was Mr. Mio's christening candle - a German tradition. The standard ones were pretty awful in that religious way so we made our own.

The glasses were from an optician that closed shop, they're carved in wood and the hands are from an old glove factory, someone I shared studio with once got them for a project.

Ah, the odd mix of light switches and plug sockets from different eras , the fake Pikachu one and the feather one are pretty random, the tache one was in our old studio too.

Art we like.
Some from friends, some from former students, some from former versions of ourselves, some are just nice, like the Letraset sheet there are a few things that ought to be there that aren't.

Wallpaper archeology.
I stripped of some of the newer layers of wallpaper - probably in impulse stemming from my childhood. On that wall are a couple of jumping jacks Annabelle made and a big green F that I found in a town called Ebeltoft which sounds a bit like someone the Moomins might know.

A mirror that still hasn't been put up reflects Annabelle working on something by the window that hosted The Sage, The Basil, The Rosemaries, Helen's Tomato, Pale Dill, Father Thyme, Dead Hot Chili Papas and a toner cartridge waiting to be sent to the recycling place.

That's it, I need to design some stickers for a secret club now. And you need to scoot over to that same club to join the mailing list, we have good things coming. Including stickers.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

stadig et par pladser til Skovens Ånder

Der er stadig et par pladser til vores "Skovens Ånder" eventyr på lørdag.
AOA har et lille stykke om det her.

De rå masker er landet fra trykkeriet og siden billedet blev taget er de blevet maskificeret.
The raw masks have arrived from the printers and since the taking of this picture, they have been maskified further."

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

- kommer gratis i biografen

Den 16. juli inviterer en hemmelig klub alle børn over 7 år til at blive forvandlet til skov-ånder og gå på et magisk eventyr. Samtidig rydder ånderne, iført masker og nysgerrighed, lidt op efter menneskene og møder nogle af de andre åndevæsener der bor i skoven. Dagen efter er alle ånderne inviteret i biografen til at se den Japanske tegnefilm Chihiro og heksene.

Det er gratis at være med, men man skal tilmelde sig på og der er kun begrænsede pladser.

English translation:

The forest spirits go to the cinema for free

On 16th July, a secret club invites all children over the age of 7 to be transformed into forest spirits and embark on a magical adventure.
At the same time the spirits, showing masked faces and curiosity, clean up a little after the humans and meet some of the other spirits of the forest. The day after, all are invited to the cinema to watch the beautiful Japanese animation 'Spirited Away'.

It is free to take part, but you must sign up early at as there are only limited spaces available.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Shane Brox at Den Gamle By

Let me introduce you to a man that may have turned thousands of kids to scouring the streets for trash - or what other people call trash. His name is Shane Brox and I first came across him a few years back around Christmas when I was visiting my family in Denmark. In Danish TV Mr. Brox had a show where he told stories with an eclectic mix of mismatched toys and sets + characters made using his trusty hot glue gun and found objects.

It's no surprise that I like anyone working with reclaimed materials on national TV, but this guy is good - not just with the glue gun, but with his stories too.

Now I'm living in Denmark and Shane Brox happens to have a show at Den Gamle By in Aarhus.
There are slight critiques of society in this show, little snidey remarks - mostly about paranoia - that add another layer, but also just that kind of weirdness that sits well with my brain.

According to what I've heard, he's been given free access to a huge archive of toys owned by the museum, this might not be the case, but if so, that's a major and interesting step for a museum that usually insists on historical accuracy in it's displays. (Except a few - I don't think a 1864 bakers mostly sold cake for instance.) This kind of stuff is the way to get people interested: Show them wonder, not facts. If it strikes a chord, they will look for/at facts themselves.

If you're anywhere near, I recommend this, it's one of the few little ways to get your mind blown in Aarhus.

Friday, June 03, 2011

A secret clubhouse opens

We've been working hard in a secret club and our pop-up opens tomorrow in Aarhus, Denmark. Let's hope the kids here like our games as much as the London kids did.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Subconscious art at Aros Art museum - a rant

Since moving to Aarhus, I've been baffled by the dumbed down attitude towards art here. First off, theres the shop at the art museum Aros. What they mainly sell is cook books, nick-nacks and babba-pappa toys. Not that there's anything wrong with either cook books or babba-pappa toys, there's just no connection to the art - it's like any other slightly out of it "design" shop, catering to slightly out of it customers. You could argue that a shop isn't an important part of the museum, but why not use this amazing opportunity to continue the vision you have for the museum in the shop Like they brilliantly do at Design Museum in London? You learn about design in their shop - at Aros, you learn about cooking with a Weber grill.

In town, the galleries aren't helping either. Far too near to my home a gallery called "Art Snob" has opened, here's a few of their paintings

And there's a gallery that advertises: "design your own painting" - send them a holiday snapshot and they get their band of Chinese craftsmen to copy it onto canvas - I'm tempted to use this service to see what they'd do with a broken jpeg or a gif animation.

So, on to the good stuff:
Tomorrow at the smaller and edgier art museum Aarhus Kunstbygning the graduation show of the art academy opens, including work by Ea Borre whom we'd very much like to work with for a secret club, but until then, I recommend going back to Aros where they currently are having an interesting exhibition of subconscious art. (a notion nicked from Matt McCormick's brilliant film "The Subconscious Art of Graffiti Removal".)

some of the work on display at Aros a few days ago

The piece sits somewhere between perfomance and sculpture, and that's an interesting place to sit. I've been back to see it a couple of times and it is ever changing, but the magic of it is that you rarely see anyone changing it.

Trust me. Start looking at subconscious art - and be honest about it, don't do it wih a snidey, ironic twinkle in your eye - and your world will become a lot more agreeable.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

a secret clubhouse pop up/et hemmeligt klubhus pop up

It's with great joy I can announce that a secret club have its very own popup (work)shop in Aarhus, Denmark in June. We'll be playing games, building things and telling stories and when I say "we" I mean both you and us.
Spread the word, more info on

Det er min udsøgte og håndplukkede glæde at fortælle at en hemmelig klub har sin helt egen popup (work)shop i Aarhus i juni. Vi vil lege lege, bygge ting og fortælle historier og med "vi" mener jeg både jer og os.
Spred ordet, der er flere oplysninger på

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Storm in your Hand

Things are really slow here as you may have noticed - due to a certain little fella arriving with winter, but now spring is here and it's high time I got to work. Most of the work at the moment is for a secret club as that is what I enjoy mostly at the moment for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it feels good to be part of a collective, to rid myself of "my" personallity and don the gelled personallity of a secret club. It also feels good to design in a way where I haven't got the full control, where I am not meant to have the answers, but instead we must find them together, but lastly - and probably most importantly - it pushes the work in new directions, and the method of working in new directions.

Well, enough soul searching, on to the work.
We recently designed a whirligig for the children's at and science magazine OKIDO and it ended up like this

The vigilant reader will notice some conceptual recycling from an old collage:

but it was a long way to get to that - first thoughts were on a tornado tearing up a house Wizard of Oz/Twister style, we also thought of wind gods and cloud surfers but in the end, we created our own little story of ships that are fish and the weather being considered "good" or "bad". A mostly did the illustration and I made the mechanism work and squeezed it all in to on page in the mag.

it's been a fun little project, making a a paper mechanism that actually worked. I am aware that we may have overcomplicated things - kids will need help form their parents to build this, but designing a piece of communication that takes collaboration to use is very close to what we're all about.

Now, go buy OKIDO and support their and our mission to make this place magic.

I'll be back soon with exciting news for those living in or visiting Aarhus...

Thursday, April 07, 2011

You wouldn't believe the things I've seen...

I've been teaching font design the last couple of weeks - this is a returning gig that I got back when I was really into font design, but I have rarely repeated the projects from year to year, both because that would bore me and leave me stuck with something that isn't nessecarily the best way to run the project, but also because there are some important skills I feel I need to teach these students, including the simple skill of looking - or rather seeing.

Since my own student day I have been convinced that there is inspiration to be found everywhere and that we have seen and learned so much that even the most isolated and boring place will somehow spark ideas, but that doesn't mean you should stop looking.

Here are a few of the things I've seen during my time here:

17th century wood carving graffiti inside the cathedral and a 17th century lenticular painting

Severed leg as a communication in the Cathedral, I'd love to know the meaning behind this.
Also, an old sales exhibition of tiles to frame your stove, now a place where bicycles are parked.

a fishmonger's logo - a drawing of a happy fish. There's something disturbing about animals we consider food to be absolutely fine with that. On the roads of Denmark you sometimes see pig transports with an illustration of two happy piggies playing football and the strapline "another batch of pigs on their way to the goal."

A hairdressers sign. In Forest Hill, London I once saw a handwritten sign saying "entrance next to the hairstressers" or similar, this one is showing, not telling. Also the sign of a saddlemaker. There's also a book printers here, not just a printer, a book printer.

Oh my God, it's full of stars.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Ah, the wonders of childhood. Let me show you the intro for "Kikkassen" and no, it's has nothing to do with kicking ass.

I grew up with this and I loved it. This is possibly one the earliest typographic input that I consciously loved. I loved every bit of it and only by revisiting it I understand that part of its awesomeness is due to the fact that you get three title sequences in one:

First this one where the K's are dancing their dance with the I and finally presenting us with "Kassen". That would have been enough for a title sequence, we'd gotten the title of the show in a catchy way, type with eyes, man! I loved those eyes and that dance. Well, this was followed by the second sequence:

Even more letters, each with their own personality going crazy in their ever changing grid, Every week my eyes were peeled to take in as many as possible of these, the overlapping S's at the bottom had a special place in my heart. After this craziness it all calms down a bit:

And the sequence is almost over, but not before an electric shudder shoots through the type and all but one eye disappears.

I do not remember much of the contents of the show, but this sequence has been with me my entire life, it may even have formed my interest in graphic design.

One time, my sister and I were ill, we probably had fever and we'd been given 1970'ies/80'ies cough medicine and I remember watching this in a couch syrup stupor, it didn't get less crazy, but I soon fell asleep.

Now, sit back and allow you mind to be blown:

Friday, February 18, 2011

Repotting without tearing too many roots
As our move to Denmark gets closer a very Scandinavian melancholy is creeping in and mixes with hopes, so I figured it would be sobering to write these thoughts down, you see, wherever you are, there are things that bug you - here it's stuff like the quality of bread, housing standards, the government and rush hour travel, it's watching people letting crisp bags fall from their hands when they're done and the realisation that you might get knifed if you say something. In Denmark, it's the selfishness of people, the quality of art, the government and people littering, but I want to focus on the good stuff, because going away from your native culture for a bit is the best thing you can do to your brain, I have learned so much in these few London years and what I will miss from London is:

The edge. There is so much of it here, it's a hard place sometimes, but accept that and London opens up.
Victorian/Edwardian/bodged aesthetics. I cannot yet full explain this. I've sometimes tried to tell students that "Things decay differently here." and gotten blank stares. Fretwork is a part of it, handwriting a sign instead of printing it in Comic Sans and laminating it is another.
Connectivity. Whatever you do here, there's someone who will understand

What I will appreciate more than I used to in Denmark will be stuff like:
Roots/Tradition There is some crazy stuff there that I've taken for granted.
The sea I'm baffled by the fact that we have all this sea and very few of us seem to use it.
Quality of life. It's the little things, heating that works, a fridge that can hold more than 4 pints of milk, a small town where you can walk anywhere in 30 minutes.

So there you have it. It looks like I'm giving up on inspiration for comfort, maybe a bit, but in doing that I am forcing myself to bring some London to the table, I must be the edge, I must be a driving force of an interesting aesthetic, I must connect.

The cool thing about these two lists, is that it wouldn't work the other way around, I couldn't bring the sea, a Scandinavian quality of life and folk traditions here to the same extent.

a secret club badges, if you'd like one, it's yours.

A secret club will be a major part of this, we will continue and expand our work with playful communication, collaborative play, memory and alternative teaching and this will have to happen in whichever way possible, both on an official level but also in more guerrilla ways.

We will not sever our roots in London, Aarhus is not far away and we have some brilliant projects lined up, so I will be seeing you.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Our friends over at The House of Fairy Tales a hosting an exhibition this coming weekend. and we have a couple of things there as well: Our Sea Signaling System and Antlor will be for sale as will artwork from an impressive list of artist including Fiona Banner, Sir Peter Blake, Adam Dant, Simon English, Georgie Hopton, Cornelia Parker, Bob & Roberta Smith, Gavin Turk and Rachel Whiteread.

The thing goes down in good old Clerkenwell, 68 St. John Street, to be exact from the 18th to the 20th - private view is Friday from 6PM to 8PM, if you want to see it at any other time, call 07957 138 354 or email for viewing appointments.

This will be a good chance for some behind the scenes stuff and an equally good chance to meet some wonderful folks.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

The studio is moving to Denmark for a while and before the move, the studio needs clearing out so head to ebay for some very limited edition The See prints, starting price is 14 squid - normal price is 150 that's more than a 90 percent discount (unless there are more of you that really want this.)

Until 15th February you can get your paws on some misprinted screenprints + rare extras at the bigcartel store. After that date they'll be recycled. (except I might want to keep a few, some of them are pretty amazing mistakes.)

Lighten my load and get some good stuff on your walls.