CR Bursary: Tom Darracott

Designer and imagemaker Tom Darracott is the first recipient of a CR Bursary, our new initiative supported by Blurb which will provide funding for personal projects by promising creatives

Designer and imagemaker Tom Darracott is the first recipient of a CR Bursary, our new initiative supported by Blurb, which will provide funding for personal projects by promising creatives.

Each CR Bursary will provide £1000 to a designer, art director, illustrator, photographer, filmmaker or similar creative artist to complete a personal project in any medium. We will feature the project on the CR website and Blurb will produce a book designed by the artist to document the work.

Our first CR Bursary goes to Tom Darracott.

A graduate of Leeds Met and St Martins, Darracott first came to prominence with his work for the Fabric nightclub. After finishing his MA at St Martins some ten years ago, Darracott attempted to set up a studio with his friend and long-term collaborator Carl Burgess (profiled by CR in 2008 here). Things didn’t work out (Darracott blames their naïvety) and, after a period of freelancing, Darracott was asked to join Jonathon Cooke’s Love studio.

One of Cooke’s major clients was the Fabric nightclub for whom Love produced regular mailers featuring imagery that was determinedly different to the regular flyer fayre of the times. “It was a pretty open brief really but it had to sit in that less obvious, surreal or twisted area,” Darracott explains, “basically anything that was as far as it could possibly be from nightclub visuals.”

In 2007 Cooke joined forces with Blue Source’s Seb Marling to form Village Green (profiled by CR in September 2008 with cover by Darracott).

Darracott came too and continued to produce striking imagery for Fabric that balanced surrealism with a certain Englishness that drew on folk traditions.

He also worked on projects such as the 2008 identity for music and arts enterprise, The Vinyl Factory, in which a variety of abstract marks form the backdrop for a classic logotype

while probably his biggest project was for the 2007 Mark Ronson Cover Version album where posters were designed, printed, pasted and ripped before being re-photographed to make the cover artwork

“It was at the tail end of when the music industry was still putting some money into artwork,” Darracott says of the campaign that featured multiple torn images of Ronson as if from a wall of flyposters. “It was a really enjoyable project to work on, and it made me realise you can’t be too fussy about the product you are working on. It’s far from being my type of music – at university I had this idea in my head that you should only work on ‘cool’ things – but that project taught me to be not so precious about things and realise it’s a job of work. There’s no shame in that at all.”

The idea came from the record label, weirdly, which might have come down from Mark Ronson as well. Then I worked closely with Seb [Marling] on it, researching artists who did work on ripped posters in the past. What helped was that the timeline was short so it meant that various people at label didn’t have days on end to agonise over every tiny detail.”

Earlier this year, Darracott decided to leave Village Green to set up on his own. As yet, there’s no fancy studio, just a shared space in East London. “It’s an age thing I suppose,” he says of his reasons for the move (Darracott is 32). “I couldn’t imagine I’d be working at Village Green when I’m 50 so, whilst I don’t have any big commitments in the rest of my life, now seemed a good time to throw myself totally into my work.”

And what characterises that work? “I’d like to think my work has a sense of urgency to it, that it’s not too polite I hope, I like to try to get some energy into it. That English, surreal look was more of a Village Green thing than me and it’s something I would like to move away from because it feels like it’s quite on-trend at moment – the whole oldy-worldy thing is not for me really.

“I’m more into work which is super polished I guess. There’s been a real fetishisation of craft in recent years which is self-indulgent I find. I’m interested in the techniques but find it all too backwards-looking, slightly unhealthy I think. I can see why people like those things, but we should be looking into the future a bit more,” he argues.

“I’m not sure it’s right that graphics work should be timeless as such, it should be tailor-made for current times and then who cares if it looks dated ten years later?”

For his CR Bursary project Darracott is working on a moving image piece which will be featured here on the CR website at the end of June.

Thanks to Blurb for their support of the CR Bursaries.

Related Content

Read Mark Sinclair’s profile of Village Green here


CR in Print

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