Six Things

With the first two months of the year under our belts and the resolutions already forgotten, we’ve asked our Strategic Design Director, Gareth, to share what’s currently on his radar in the first of our new series, Six Things.

This is the start of what will be a semi-regular series where we thought it might be nice to find out what one of our team has been recently enjoying. Across, TV, art, music, books, podcasts and films, we’ve asked Gareth to fill us in on what he’s getting into.

TV – Hey Duggee

I didn’t know which way to go with what am I watching at the moment – because there is a lot! However, in a spirit of honesty and transparency, I thought I would start with a programme that I have watched (close to) everyday for the past four years: Hey Duggee. For those that don’t know, it’s the best animated, children’s cartoon you are ever likely to see. It’s on the BBC and each episode is 7 minutes long with the premise being a bit like Scouts, where the characters earn a badge each episode. Now I know if you don’t have children, you probably shouldn’t care but from a design, illustration and animation point of view, I’d argue, it’s perfect. As well as having episodes based on Apocalypse Now, nods to Steve Zissou and being able to delve into existential questions, I’d really recommend it.

Art – The Adventures of Tintin by Herge

Needless to say, Herge’s titular character has a problematic past and I fully understand why people would not want to go near the comics. However, just purely from an artistic point of view and in line with Instagram accounts like Scenic Simpsons, I’m really enjoying the whole “Ligne claire” aesthetic and specifically any landscape panels without any dialogue. (There are of course, whole Instagram accounts dedicated to the such things.) I’m pretty late to this and only just got into it recently, despite a nostalgic fondness for the cartoon from Saturday mornings a long time ago.

Music – Impalaville by Johnny Paychecks

I’ve been having a big clear out at home and trying to part with loads of old CDs I haven’t listened to in years. So in an effort to really get rid of them all, I’ve started to digitise anything that wasn’t available on Spotify, and in the process have rediscovered some amazing old mix CDs. The main one I keep going back to is Impalaville, set up as the best radio show you’ve never heard, full of relaxed, dreamy old soul music inspired by “L.A. Chicano summer anthems” for lowrider cruising round LA on a sunny day. Pure escapism that couldn’t be further from suburban Brum.

Book – Teach Yourself: Cultural Studies by Will Brooker

I’ve become semi-obsessed with the idea of cultural studies over the last two years and even more since I discovered Stuart Hall’s (a founding father of the discipline in some ways) link to Birmingham. Now that’s not to say I know a lot about it, so was very happy when I found this book in the Birmingham Library pre-pandemic. It’s a chronology of sorts, linking individuals and their thoughts together, in terms of order and themes. Since that Library find, I’ve since bought a very cheap copy on eBay and it’s a book I keep revisiting as I read more and try and remember who-thought-what-and-when.

Podcast – Drink Champs

The other end of the intelligentsia and academic spectrum is the podcast Drink Champs. Hosted by N.O.R.E., formerly Noreaga, and DJ EFN, each episode takes the format of a long, meandering conversation with rappers, new and old, inter-spliced with drinking expensive booze. I am not a podcast person but as I slowly realise there are a lot of podcasts out there which are just fun and don’t pretend to be high-brow, I think I might be becoming a podcast person.

Film – Dune

As big blockbusters go, this couldn’t be weirder and is easily the most “science fiction”, science fiction film, I’ve ever seen. With a reputation of being unfilmable, David Lynch’s version having a less than warm reputation as well as just being based super sci-fi weird books, I am surprised it has been as popular as it has. With a sequel on the way, now is the time to get into it right from the beginning. The actors involved are amazing, the soundtrack is incredible and the whole thing looks amazing. Nominated for oscars, this could be the start of a new wave of strange sci-fi going mainstream.

There you have it. We hope you enjoyed Gareth’s selection and there was something there for you to look up afterwards. You can expect more of these from the rest of the team in the future.