Loop Living Almanac: Unearthing fresh talent

[Tom Biederbeck] When Tomorrow Partners created a promotion to launch Mohawk’s Loop line of sustainable papers, the designers understandably focused on longevity — practical content makes a promo worth hanging on to, they reasoned. Their solution, Mohawk Loop: A Living Almanac, offers work and lifestyle advice on every spread. That much was expected. The surprise was the two startlingly young artists the designers found to visualize the project.

There are 13 artists featured in the Living Almanac; the two “discoveries,” Kane Longden and Paul Tebbott, are both from the U.K. and both under 21. I spoke with Gaby Brink of Tomorrow Partners about these new talents and the why and how of getting them involved.

Kane Longden, younger of the two at 17 and a student at Aquinas College in Stockport, England, contributed an atmospheric photo of a girl in swirling snow (as it turns out, the girl is Longden’s sister). Brink relates the following story about tracking the photographer down:

“We thought there was something magical about this photo we found on Flickr. We sent a note to the artist, saying, ‘We’d like to use this image in the promotion. Can we get your permission?’ He wrote back that he wasn’t interested. We said, ‘It’s going to be a pretty big deal, we’re going to print 40,000 copies, and it will go to all these designers around the world.’ Again he said, ‘No, I’m not interested.’ We couldn’t make sense of this, so we asked him why. Kane wrote back and let us know his mother said he couldn’t let us use the photo for free. ‘Of course not,’ we told him, ‘We’re going to pay you for using it!’”

Longden is not only precociously gifted but articulate and well versed in his discipline. I asked him about his interests and influences.

“Last year I did a lot of painting and drawing for my art course,” he says. “I did some large-scale portraits of my sister that were featured in a local art gallery. The photographers I admire the most are people such as Tim Walker, Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison, Paolo Roversi, etc. I really like portraiture, so any photographer that produces edgy portraits I’m bound to be a fan of. I also love surrealism, which is why I love the work of Tim Walker and the ParkeHarrisons.

“I have never been to a photography class. Although I went to art classes, I basically learned by myself — just going out on walks, on my own with a camera. I think the key to photography is practice. Even if you have a natural eye for it, you need to practice the technical bit to perfect your style.” Longden is aiming at a photography degree and a career as a photographer; he has a good start on his ambitions, having already been featured in two Chinese magazines. You can see more of his work here.

The second young artist featured in the Loop Almanac, Paul Tebbott, provided a remarkable series of illustrations and diagrams, each portraying a different ecological system or loop. The project was, amazingly, was his first real assignment. A 20-year-old designer/musician living near Manchester, England, Tebbott became interested in graphics when he discovered the work of another artist/musician, Scott Hansen of San Francisco. From that point of inspiration, Tebbott’s ambitions began to grow.

“Through Scott’s blog and various other design sites, I started to discover more about design and began experimenting creating my own work,” Tebbott says. “It wasn’t until [later] that I really started to pursue graphic design as a career.

“It was great to hear that Tomorrow Partners wanted to work with me on the Loop project,” he says. “They gave me a lot of freedom when it came to the concepts for the illustrations, which really allowed me to apply my creativity to the artwork. The illustrations in the Mohawk book were original pieces created for the project. For the most part, the artwork for each loop was intended to show the process of that loop, but not in an obvious scientific style.”

Tebbott’s influences include Modernism and mid-century design; in addition to Hansen, he mentions American artists Jason Munn (The Small Stakes) and Frank Chimero, and the work of U.K. designers Build and Universal Everything. You can see more of Tebbott’s work here.

See all the images by Kane Longden and Paul Tebbott and 11 other artists in your own copy of the Loop Almanac. Order online or request a copy from your local Mohawk rep.

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