Interview: Mitch Beige Brown

Based out of Sydney Australia, Mitch Beige Brown is a young designer with a stunning portfolio of unusual and playful works under his belt. Ranging from ironic/iconic art direction and collaborations for record sleeves, Mitch’s perspective is a breath of fresh air. 

When you get a new project, can you talk a little bit about your brainstorming/creative process? How do you go about creating your works? 

For better or worse, the creative process can be quite fickle and unpredictable. Due to the fast turn-around nature of a lot of these projects, concepts (or at least visual directions) rely heavily on the things I encounter in everyday life. I know that’s cliché, but adapting a chosen reference to a new & innovative context (regardless of how obscure & unrecognizable the interpretation of this reference may end up) can often be one of the most rewarding solutions, for myself creatively, and for the client. 

On the other hand, having the good fortune of working with independent record labels like Banggang 12Inches, gives me the vehicle to experiment with concepts I may otherwise have no platform to explore. Be it through commissioning appropriate artists to create sleeve art, or doing it myself, the sleeves created with BG12” can be as conceptual or dumb as we want them to be. It’s all about whatever works with the music. 

I hope that answers the question… 

You’ve done a number of artwork for records- for example, you have some images from the Bang Gang Deejay’s release, ‘d is for disco, e is for dancing.” I read that you collaborated with an illustrator friend of yours, Hana Shimada. Can you describe a little bit more in depth the concept behind your design, and how you melded your high-contrast, iconic graphic elements with Hana’s more illustrational work? How do you think these visuals reflected the idea behind the music itself? 

The idea behind this project was always for Hana’s drawings to be the centerpiece of the package, so keeping graphic elements bold and simplistic felt like the best way to compliment these drawings. We’d already established a very bold/iconic aesthetic for the Bang Gang Deejays over the years, so Hana’s drawings seemed like a really interesting addition to this formula. It’s something we feel really paid off, as her illustrative style is completely unique and bizarre, and works well to convey the left-field sound that the guys make in their mixes. 

You also coordinated photoshoots in conjunction with doing the album layout, as with Like Whoa!’s clever “middle-eastern-gone-nu-rave-sock-people” album artwork. Can you talk about some of the other arenas of “creative direction” entails for you? 

It really depends on what is required. Working on smaller scale projects with tighter budgets, you get to have a pretty good involvement in every facet of the process. You do whatever you have to do to make the project as amazing as possible! On the occasion you get to work with the people you really admire, you do so with total trust in their creative input. It’s that trust that can make for a really successful collaboration. 

What are some of the considerations you take into account when designing graphics for record packaging? 

Dimensions! 

You also delve in to apparel design. In your series, “øde tø the ø” you created a series of t-shirts heralding the Scandinavian linguistic “o”/ the mathematical slashed zero. Either way your graphics seem to touch on fatality, maybe the symbolic inverse of the infinite sign? Can you talk a little bit about this project? 

Yes, definitely. Working with a label like Chrønicles Øf Never is really enjoyable because we share an appreciation for simple and iconic graphics. By nature the label has a darker aesthetic – each range is heavily conceptual. It’s inspired by the supernatural, paganism, and other ancient mythologies. 

The ‘Ø’ print, as well as being the key print for the range, was open to interpretation. The Ø symbol has many meanings, one of which is it being a core importance to the label itself, and it’s history. This combined with the idea of infiniteness, made for an interesting hybrid. 

Another great couple of series are the “inner gay” t-shirts the work you did for material boy’s winter collection, “abadigital”—a take on aboriginal wall paintings. What was your thought process behind creating these works? 

Material Boy has always been about fun and ironic graphics, with a focus on innovation in shape & form. The idea for the ‘Abadigital’ graphics was to be quite sympathetic & respectful to traditional forms of Aboriginal art, but try and manipulate this style to suit a modern context. 

You recently designed a t-shirt featuring an iconic and minimalist smiley face for Modular Records—and a diamond dazzle disco ball swallowing fetish vinyl model wearing it? 

Yes, but the art direction behind that campaign/look book was devised by an Australian designer, Jonathan Zawada, it was fun to see it worn in such a way though! 

I love the promotional booklet you did for Modular Records, illustrating a so-called “high-energy 90’s ‘live life!’ theme, loosely based on 1990s shape milk commercials.” What do you think about the resurgence of kitsch early 90’s back into popular culture—what are some of your favorite graphic concepts from that decade? 

I think the resurgence is largely due to the new generation of designers coming up, who grew up through that period. There’s a real novelty to the design and style of the era. You see it in a lot of new ‘designer art’, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. 

The vibrancy of the advertising, bold graphics, and prominent focus on body image was something I really enjoyed about the 80s and 90s. 

Your pamphlet for the modular records “pitch” sort of follows in a similar vein, though ironically re-contextualising hippie burn-outs- can you talk about this pamphlet? 

Exactly. It was simply illustrating the stereotypical “hippie burn-out” in a modern context; a beachside gone wrong, with the word ‘PITCH’ hidden amongst the illustration. The pamphlet was intended for the younger, surfing community, so there wasn’t any need to take things too seriously! 

I noticed you also did collage work in your series “pom poms,” is this something you regularly explore? What’s this process like for you creatively, as opposed to your graphic oriented work? 

That was purely an experimental project, to explore new mediums/textures. The nature of a lot of my work, being graphic based, makes you want to get away from a computer time to time. 

If you could create any project, or thing, graphic or otherwise regardless of scale or cost, what would you create? 

I don’t think too largely in terms of scale at the moment, as I’m really enjoying, and still discovering the print medium. I’d like to explore publication design further, as it’s something I haven’t really been able to delve into yet. 

I’d really like to experiment with new ways of communicating in print and web, incorporating physical and graphical elements, combining new and old technologies. Sculpture and set design is something I’d love to bring into my work, also. 

What are some of your upcoming projects? 

Apart from a few record sleeves, websites, and a personal project I’m hoping to finally bring to fruition, I’m looking forward to taking some time off! Happy holidays! 

 

To view more of Mitch’s works, visit: 

Mitch Beige Brown