10 quick questions, 5 professional and 5 random, with people you should know.
Born in London, spending a generous five years at Chelsea School of Art from ’87-’92, graduating into Rob O’Connors ‘Stylorouge’, and a baptism of fire by way of the infamous Storm Thorgeson (Hipnosis/Pink Floyd), Woodstock impresario Alan Douglas’ and the Jimi Hendrix Estate, plus a surreal stint at Graceland for Elvis Presley Enterprises.
In ’96 Bull founded Yacht Associates, which quickly gained a wide a varied client base predominately within the UK and US music industries, clients ranging from Warner Bros to Def Soul and with a string of covers finding themselves in the top ten and a few at number one.
Early imprinted works included the Blag Magazine collaboration, which in turn lead to Blag the book in 1999, published by DGV, following quickly came the pictorial-biography ‘Yacht’ again commissioned by DGV. This lead in 2003 to the birth of imprint ‘Generation Yacht’ along with bespoke print house Generation Press and Bull heading the Creative and Editorial. Publishing esoteric photographic essays, titles which include David Robinsons applauded ‘Wonderland’ and ‘Lee Valley Leisure’, Carhartt sponsored ‘Reading Lines’ by Steve Harries, Mark Leary’s ‘Made In China’, ‘The Norwegian Way’ by Jørn Tomter, Rick Guests, Nike inspired ‘Eleven’, Andrew Holligans ‘Flag’and most recently Mark Leary’s return with ‘Salt & Wax’- The majority happily finding their way into the pages of the Creative Review and D&AD Annual’s.
Further works have been commissioned within the pages of 125 Magazine, Sampler (Intro), Discstyle (C&B),
SOON – Brands of Tomorrow (GettyStone), 100% Cotton (Laurence King), with Yacht Associates also showcased in Graphic Design for the 21st Century (Taschen),
Sonic (DGV), Contemporay Graphic Design (Taschen), The Great British Identity (Index) as well press/interviews in periodicals ranging from Arena, i-D, Creative Review, Design Week and Pictured in the UK, to Graphis in the USA, and +81, Selfish and iDee Co in Japan.
In 2010 Bull put Yacht Associates on idle, only taking on projects that were of creative and musical interest –
A return to the analogue world of paint vs canvas was required, away from the ‘digital’ and the easy tap of a ‘delete button’, to channel more than 20 years worth of conceptual musings into a structured and personal art school reprise and most importantly a heart worn back on a sleeve.
Work has been exhibited consecutively from 2011-2014 at the London Surf Film Festival held at Riverside Studios, Hammersmith, London.
In 2012 Bull created three eggs for the Fabergé Big Egg Hunt, held throughout central London by the late Mark Shands Elephant Family Charity.
Paintings have also been commissioned for several record covers and have enjoyed additional release on the
non-digital Analogue formats of 7” and 12” Vinyl.
Q. What about this profession attracted you? Did you have a mentor or an apprenticeship?
RB. I only ever wanted to create record covers, since at least age 13 – so ‘music’ attracted me. Working in a traditional design practice spins my head – annual reports and clean component guides etc – I may as well be in a factory (that’s just me of course – each to his own). I’ve been both lucky and driven – I didn’t see it any other way. It’s the folly and the persistence of youth, bravado if you will. As for a mentor, not really. I was lucky to position myself while at Chelsea (School of Art) to walk straight into my external accessors studio and probably the epicenter of the music industries creative talents in the ’90s in London. My music industry baptism of fire was to spend the summer of ’92 working in the company of the very enlightened, elightening and sadly late, Storm Thorgerson working on Pink Floyds ‘Shine On’… (maybe looking back Storm was actually a mentor even?). Next came the Estate of Jimi Hendrix, which lead to the Estate of Elvis Presley – On reflection these projects are weighty, at the time it was another day at the office (or Graceland). What I learnt from these epic but over-populated projects was that I needed autonomy, hence in the summer of ’96 I left and ‘Yacht Associate’ was born.
Q. Describe the moment when you first felt validated for your work?
RB. ‘Creative Review’ was the bible for what’s what and who’s who – if you were in those pages, you were something. I’d probably been coveting those column inches within since I started art school ten years earlier.
Today you self publish, the internet, social media it’s the over-used ‘the brand of me’, online magazines are hungry for digital content that’ll be juiced and turned to pith within half a day of hitting the news-feeds, but back then those printed pages were like getting backstage on a triple A pass, the editors were akin to nightclub svengali’s, you weren’t making it into print unless you’d excelled. The first work I sent to Creative Review in ’96 was the first record cover I’d created under Yacht Associates, underground techno with no budget – the art was honest and made it into the ‘What’s New’ pages of CR – That was validation straight out of the traps for me. Work was regularly featured and on one occasion I wrote for CR – which if had told the student me years prior I doubt I would have believed it.
Q. What about your work can’t you teach? What makes the work unique to you?
RB. Time, the passing of time, if you have your eyes open, will feed you with experiences, if you choose to see and embrace these then you will be unique. It’s hard not to absorb influences, the zeitgeists that populate our physical and digital are a huge distraction and can feed self doubt. One needs to almost be anti-art to nurture ones own sensibility. Experience can’t be taught. Your decades, your tribes and your culture are your own creative providence. This is the same for us all.
Personally, I lived and worked the at time of big budget, big ideas and big egos – so my creative experiences were journeys through continents alongside genius’, eccentrics and lunatics – I could lament the loss, but I celebrate the experience – it was without doubt unique.
Q. If you could be equally as happy in a different career, what would it be?
RB. Very simple… Custom Paint Shop… House of Kolor candy paints and spindrift sparkle. Instant gratification, if not a little carcinogenic.
Q. What do you want to accomplish in your lifetime/career? How do you think or want other people to feel about you/it?
RB. Regards career: It’d be nice for my painted work to exist beyond my time on earth and not end up in a dumpster – actual physical one-off art, is on the most part cherished, it’s one of the few earthly possessions that are passed on or sold on over and over, so I might get lucky. As for the record sleeves, I think they will become curiosities at best, not quite fodder for the trash can, but it’s 50/50 – If the artist (musician) was great, then the work will live on, if the artist (musician) was great but didn’t make any money, then only the diehards will care. This though, it must be pointed out, has no bearing on the quality of the artwork, if the artist was great and artwork sucked then the work will still be honored regardless. Let’s call it Fiscal Subjectivity. Regards Lifetime: Be the best Father I can be, the art doesn’t really matter.
Q. How did you meet your best friend?
RB. She came to show me her portfolio, I was full of myself, more ‘look at me’ than looking at her, like I was supposed to be. Her work was good, very good and probably in truth a little higher in the brow than I was ready for, so I pea-cocked around and she obviously didn’t suffer fools, we had a raleigh of minds – back and forth it went… I lost, but didn’t admit it or let on I knew it. A year or two later we worked together, a year or two after that we had kids.
Q. Last thing you took a photo of?
RB. Junk mail in my inbox – the bombardment needed capturing, I considered it briefly as possibly art, the intrusive global zeitgeist of the SpamBot.
Q. Most irrational fear?
RB. Success – I wouldn’t want the attention.
Q. What is the oldest technology device you own? Do you still use it?
RB. I’ll take the term ‘technology device’ to mean it has to have some-kind of business use (not a 1980’s Gameboy) Answer: Macintosh SE30, 40mb hard drive, maxed out to the full 8mb of RAM and a whole 16 Mhz of processor.
I don’t use it. But it works and I could… not sure for what.
Q. When did you first consider yourself an adult?
I thought it was when I became a Father, but I was only part way there I have since discovered. The absolute realization was the passing of my Mother, irrespective if ones own Father is still here – when the woman that carried you has gone, you’re on your own, no more words of comfort, no more words of wisdom and… You’re up next.