How Printed Goods created two bespoke pieces for World Water Day
Founded and based in Bristol, Printed Goods is run by twin brothers Raphael and George Greaves. From their studio space in the creative heart of the city, the brothers have honed in on a distinctively tangible aesthetic. Their focus is on quality – producing original works and creative commissions which capture a visual tone of clean, clear directness.
Having independently studied illustration at different universities, the brothers reunited to launch this creative endeavour two years ago. Their vibrant, polychrome palette has formed the basis of a catalogue of prints that blend angular experimentation with classical, pristine presentation.
Crack were approached to curate and document a special creative project with local artists who we admired. As they are located just down the road from our headquarters and their output had been on our radar for some time, Printed Goods were a natural fit.
Centred around Stella Artois’ Buy A Lady A Drink campaign with Water.org, Raphael and George conceptualised and produced two limited edition prints from their Bristol studio space. Over the past two years, Stella Artois’ partnership with Water.org has been raising awareness about the global water crisis, working together to help bring access to clean water to more than 3.5 million people in the developing world by 2020. Women walk for up to six hours a day just to get clean water, their journeys and the work of this initiative formed the basis for the project with Printed Goods.
From their studio space, to the printers, to their pop-up gallery – the process of bringing these works to life happened across one day in Bristol. To discuss the process, the initiative and their creative method, we spoke to Raphael and George once the project had wrapped up.
To be part of the generation that helps ends the global water crisis today, donate by purchasing a limited edition pack of Stella Artois*. (*For each limited edition pack sold, Stella Artois will donate £0.47 to Water.Org providing one person access to clean water for six months).
Tell us a little bit about your background as artists…
George: I started my art training after sixth form with a foundation course at Bristol School of Art. Then I went on to do illustration and visual communication at Westminster. I didn’t go straight into this field because I didn’t know what direction I wanted to take. I sort of dossed around doing other stuff – bar work, working at a factory – then decided to take it seriously and do something I wanted to do.
Raphael: We did the foundation course together. It’s a really great course. We were both quite unsure about what we wanted to do but the great thing about that course is you get to try everything – printmaking, photography, ceramics. It was a great introduction. I went on to do animation which was so wrong for me. It was 2D hand drawn animation which gave me a good grounding in technical drawing but I saw that George was having such a good time on his illustration course so I wanted to get involved in that! I went up to Bristol uni, got in four days before the course started and graduated there. Then we decided to get a studio together and start taking it seriously.
What do you think it is about Bristol that makes it so good for creatives?
G: We wouldn’t have been able to do this in London –
R: Without a dozen internships or having well-off parents!
G: I think the way we approach stuff is – we do exactly what we want to do. It sounds kind of arrogant but I think we both know what we like and Bristol has facilitated everything we need, it’s got a great creative scene. We’ve met loads of people who have helped us out along the way. I just think it’s such an inspirational place to live.
What was the initial plan for Printed Goods?
R: The very rough plan was to buy a Risograph printer and use it to make money then do design on the side. It didn’t really work out that way. We ended up doing a lot of printing for other people. That wasn’t really what we wanted to do, we enjoy just doing our own work. Since the start of this year it’s been going really well and it’s becoming more viable, so that’s the direction we are going in.
Do you think Risograph printing had a moment which sort of passed?
R: I think it’s still growing in popularity, particularly as more art schools are investing in them. It is a really good way of experimenting with printmaking.
G: And self-publishing. You can produce huge amounts of prints for really cheap. For us, it’s been a vehicle for our own work. There’s a whole community of people interested in Risograph who are then brought to our work.
R: I would almost say it’s similar to the fixed gear bike thing of 2010 – everyone became obsessed with it and it was really trendy. It’s a real community and scene.
To what extent to you think the mechanical process of printing in the physical sense has impacted your aesthetic?
G: We mainly work digitally now, which is so ephemeral – it’s there one moment then it’s gone. It doesn’t give the work the proper platform is deserves. For us it’s an ideological decision.
So calling yourselves Printed Goods is a way of defining your approach more than your product?
R: That’s it. Exactly. It’s nice to think there’s framed prints of ours hanging in people’s homes somewhere. That’s always in the back of our mind. We want people to treasure our works as physical items.
I’m interested in your focus on physicality which informs your work
R: I think for both of us, art is an intuitive thing.
G: Yeah, it’s more emotional than intellectual.
R: We don’t overplan it, we just do it. It’s about bringing that idea into something physical. What we do it about the final product. It’s about you experiencing the thing. It’s not about us telling you what it is.
G: We do title our work, but that’s as far as we’ll go. There’s never any guiding blurb or genre. I even hate the term illustration. Ultimately it’s about the work, thats the product – the printed good.
What was your creative direction for the work you have done to support the Stella Artois and Water.org campaign?
G: We both wanted it to be positive. The whole campaign seems to have a positive outlook – we wanted to create something that fitted in with the work we produce but maintained that optimism. These works came from our first responses which we find is the best way to work. It naturally fitted in.
R: We didn’t want to make light of the situation by just making something ‘nice’ – I hope that the image tells a little bit of a story. We wanted to celebrate the communities and the people which sometimes get overlooked in Western representations.
What would you two do with an extra six hours in your day?
R: Interesting question. We’d like to work on a publication that celebrates contemporary illustration and challenges the way it’s viewed.
G: Or watch episodes of Seinfeld on repeat…
Which other artists and creatives have influenced your overall approach?
R: We’re both inspired by what happened in art in the 20th century. Artists like Hockney, Matisse, Picasso, Kandinsky.
How about non-visual creatives?
G: We’re both inspired by the films of Andrei Tarkovsky. His work is really mystical and surreal.
R: He’s good at making you feel something without making you think about it. We also listen to a lot of jazz – Miles Davis and John Coltrane. Jazz isn’t on a structure. It’s kind of free. That’s definitely had an impact on us as we listen to it while we’re working.
What advice would you give to young creatives trying to start studios like yours?
G: It’s difficult for young people in a society that doesn’t value the arts. I would say learn how to promote yourself and learn basic business. That’s how we did it.
R: And be aware if you can make something commercial from your art and don’t be afraid of it. Focus on doing good work and learn how to promote yourself. And never be afraid to ask for help.