We recently teamed up with the very talented artist/designer Smartestgiant (aka Mick Watson) to launch some of our favorite hip hop records of all time, reinterpreted and abstracted, in minimal form.
Check out the print series and an interview we had with the man himself!


Your aka is “smartestgiant”, are you tall? 

I'm 6' so not really tall at all! The name actually came from when I had to choose a name to register my business and I was reading my daughter a bedtime story. It had a similarly named character so my studio become the Smart Giant Design Co. and, by proxy, I became smartestgiant.
You seem to find inspiration from music... What have you been listening to lately?
I'm always listening to stuff old and new. Stuff I've bought so far this year and am listening to a lot are Bowie's 'Blackstar', Anderson Paak's 'Malibu', Floating Points 'Elaenia' and Kanye's 'The Life Of Pablo' (on TIDAL). I've just had a big phase of listening to Nirvana's 'In Utero' and a load of brilliant Ethiopian jazz from the 70s. Kendrick Lamar's "To Pimp A Butterfly", Sufjan Steven's "Carrie & Lowell" and Lanterns On The Lake's "Beings" are still on heavy rotation from last year. I'm mostly listening to music from the moment I wake up until I fall asleep to Brian Eno's "Discreet Music" every night.

Your imagery is often abstract and minimal with a retro vibe. How did you hone your style?
I'm an abstract painter at heart and so I'm always looking to abstract when I can. I also like simple design so I gravitate toward that side of things. I love things that can be communicated with as few marks as possible so for the past few years that's been my goal: taking things away, thinking what are the fewest gestures I can make? However, recently I've been experimenting with more detail and textures so we'll see where that leads over the next 12 months.

 Color is an important element in your work. What’s your process for using it?
I like the abstract expressionist and colour-field painters so I've spent a lot of time staring at paintings and studying different palettes. I think that when you're using only using a few marks/shapes in a piece then color takes on a heightened role in the composition. I'm always taking photos and making notes on my phone. When it comes to making a piece, sometimes I have an idea of a palette and sometimes I go through several variations. I try to work on feeling more than anything but, like everyone, I have colors that I like to see together and I understand color theory - but I try to not let that stuff get in the way of making something that goes against the "rules". Basically, that's a long-winded way of saying sometimes I have colors I want to use so I build and idea around them and sometimes the idea comes first and I play around and try different things!

What was the motivation behind your 2016 “Every Week Something Happens" series?
Every Week Something Happens is just my way of responding to the world around us and a way of practicing doing quick topical illustrations. Apart from political cartoons I find that a lot of illustration can veer towards whimsy and I kind of want to see if I can spend a year reacting to news stories that resonate with me and visualize them in a slightly more biting way. I don't think I'm there yet but I'm enjoying the challenge. 
What interests you the most right now?
At the moment I'm consumed with working on some short animations (I started in animation and motion design and then moved to print which is the 'wrong' way!), I do The Graphic Dictionary of Interesting Words (instagram.com/graphicdictionary) everyday and so that's a constant in my life and I'm also working on some larger art installation projects which I'm pretty excited by.

Check out the limited print series, available as museum-quality, framed or unframed, giclee prints here.

February 24, 2016 — Vedette Lim