Lee Douglas and Chris Kennedy talk about those creative moments that sparked inspiration.
Raygun Magazine 1992/95
As an 18yr old, back in the days when the internet didn’t exist(!), creative inspiration was to be found in places like the bookshelves of libraries, the inlays of bootleg albums, or Easons. Ah, Easons. You gave me the opportunity to standand leaf through run-of-the-mill music, art and design magazines. But then, in 1992, you introduced a new title.Something a little more hedonistic, irreverent, and super cool.
Raygun Magazine burst onto the scene, with all the energy and wild creativity found in alternative rock music of the 90s, and everything that was needed to reaffirm my desire for art college. It delivered a highly deconstructivist style, that threw out the conventions of editorial design and ushered in a new, unconventional and experimental approach, to create something fresh and invigorating. It raised a proud middle finger to normal. Mashed California Cool, with aspects of Swiss design, nodes of punk, and the energy of youth. All at the hands of a not-so-young David Carson,who had already excelled at being a surfer and teacher, and now answering a new calling, had already blazed a trailthrough a number of surf and skate magazines. The photographer, Albert Watson, commented that Carson’s work in Raygun, particularly the ‘disorganized use of typography’ was akin to that of a painter, whose brush strokes conveyedemotion, imagery and idea.
Carson’s introduction to Raygun had immediate effect. It had been running for a short period before his arrival, and once in place, his experiments on the pages saw circulation triple in no time.
He took a liberal approach to the tedium of boring interviews, like the one with Bryan Ferry, set entirely in Zapf Dingbats. Spreads felt less restricted by the need to read the stories, as the creative expression of the words cameringing through in the cut-up, photocopied, scribbled. taped together, abstract spread of type, colour and imagery. The very nature of the music and culture Raygun was published for, all came alive in a way that gave me ultimate joy. Thiswasn’t a ‘sit down and read’ magazine. This was an experience. It changed the way I saw graphic design, andcreativity. It was the ultimate shot in the arm.
Murphy’s Last Orders.
At the tail end of 1995, the seminal anime movie Ghost in the Shell was given it’s UK release. The neo-noir cyberpunk thriller is set in 2029 Japan and follows public security agents hunting a nefarious hacker.
Murphy’s Irish Stout has a similar setting: Cork.
These two entities should not overlap in any way. But, in 1997 the 60-second tv spot for Murphy’s titled “Last Orders” aired and featured Tokugawa era samurai racing through a cyberpunk megacity filled with scenes that would make Blade Runner blush. At the end of this mad dash? The samurai drink a bottle of Murphy’s each and leave, having just narrowly made last orders before the pub closes.
This project was commissioned by the British agency Nexus productions, who must have been so inspired by Ghost in the Shell that they directly contacted the Japanese studio who made it: Production I.G.
The studio wrangled together the biggest names in anime feature production at the time to create this masterpiece and was the first anime-style ad ever aired in the UK. Presumably others had been aired in Ireland.
What makes this ad so amazing is that it all should just be impossible. How do you get the biggest anime production house to make a minute long ad for a stout predominantly consumed in Cork? Why do you get the biggest anime production house to make a minute long ad for a stout predominantly consumed in Cork? The stout itself doesn’t even feature for 43 seconds. Up until then, we are engrossed in a setting and a style. For 7 full seconds, we watch a one-eyed, one-legged man ring a bell using an 1850’s cannon.
And then, as dramatically as it had started, it’s over. A whole world created in the time it takes a pint to settle.