If you’ve walked past our Oxford Circus store recently you might have spotted our new window display, featuring lots of fun LED lights. The artists behind them? Duo Gus & Stella, who have previously art directed our AW13 in store magazine and merge photography, film and collaging to create their beautiful and unique imagery. We caught up with both to find out what inspires them, their latest designs and how to make it in the arts…
How did you get into the arts? What was your big break?
We both studied Photography at KASK School of Arts in Ghent Belgium, and after graduating in 2010 moved straight to London where we started our own company. Our big break was actually a collaboration with Topshop in 2013! We art directed, shot and designed the AW13 Magazine alongside the online app, in store graphics and window designs. It was an amazing project and kicked off lots of cool projects for us.
How did your style develop – it’s such an interesting mix of photography, film and collaging?
Whilst studying Photography we had access to all these great classes like Painting, Film & Art History that gave us a wide spectrum of inspiration and creativity. And Stella has been doing collage ever since she knew how to use scissors, so our style developed very organically into this mix of photography, film and collage.
How do you kick off a creative project? And how does your partnership work – who does what?
We start off with taking a walk, followed by a coffee and a long chat with paper and pen as our tools. The next step is going through our tiny but well considered library of books and gather inspiration. From there on we start creating a mood board, reflect on it again and then the idea takes shape. We’re a couple and partners in crime so we live and breathe what we create. We love working on a project from A to Z and it’s great to be able to bounce ideas back and forth like a game of Ping-Pong. In terms of who does what, that comes very organic as well. We both take photographs or film simultaneous so we shoot from different angles, which creates different views. We love catching an off guard moment! The collage or reworking of the images is thought out by both of us and carried out by Stella.
Was this your first time working on a store window?
The first window we worked on was the AW13 Topshop one and last year we designed the January windows for Liberty London, which was a celebration of their all time fabric designs. We designed 2D collaged life-size figures for each window, which were a combination of fabrics, 2D and 3D objects and animatronics.
Have you worked with LED lights before?
This was the first time we’ve used the neon effect and it was super exciting. It’s been on our wish list for a long time as there are so many references that are linked to the usages of neon. We were inspired by movies like ‘Broadway by Light’ by the photographer William Klein, memories of walks trough Soho in London and New York or a gas station along the road. We love it and it’s very exciting to see something hand drawn or handwritten come to live again as a 3D light installation.
What was the idea behind the Neon design windows?
Together with the team at Topshop, we came up with the idea of creating lots of cool little drawings and handwritten words around the new Topshop campaign with Lily Jean. Line drawn illustrations that reference road trip holidays, spring, melting ice cream, a hot day in Brooklyn, music festivals, … basically the perfect quirky line drawn tattoo. As Neon was always part of the idea, we created the neon mess installation so everything feels linked together. It’s like a life-size collage of neon signs.
What’s your relationship to fashion?
Fashion is a contemporary pop culture to us. It’s a platform where we’re able to express our creative outputs. We love observing people and get inspired by their style and mannerism. Those observations are what shape the ideas for our fashion shoots, which is a perfect way to express our lively realistic style of photography.
What inspires you?
LIFE in all its glory and keeping your eyes open every day. That said, we draw inspiration from anything and everything. It could be the haze of a hot cup of coffee, the gorgeous colours on a street corner or an unexpected exhibition. We also like to travel a lot, discover new places and cultures to add that layer into our ideas and style.
Do you have any advice for young people wanting to make it in the arts?
Go for it! Don’t hesitate too much, sometimes it’s better to try and end up somewhere new, than stay and regret you haven’t given it a shot. Find what you really love and keep doing it. Life is too short so go and explore!