NOTICE is a very necessary project in the current climate we find ourselves in. The world is changing around us with each; day, conversation and ideas we express, the longer the pandemic seemingly takes over our lives. With that being said it is important for us to document these unprecedented times as it will be etched into the history book for decades after us to learn from and interpret.
Jack Harper and his partner Arabella Kemp are creative minds that understand the importance of creativity with purpose over aesthetics, therefore through the inconveniences, they have faced during this time, they took it upon themselves to document the way in which the virus has stripped us down to our rawest form of communication, ink to paper - through the vessel of notices placed on shop windows by high street businesses, explaining why they are closed. NOTICE is a capsule for how businesses are communicating with their consumers in a time of social distancing. Jack Harper is an interdisciplinary designer that is known for his work as Art Director and Designer with renowned Fashion Imprint A-Cold-Wall, now working freelance in various sectors. Arabella is a creative producer and graduated from the Glasgow Shoot of Art in Communication Design and an important member of the Kyra TV team.
It is no surprise that these two have cultivated a new design house that seeks for futuristic solutions in the creative industry, NOTICE, is a step in the right direction. Already almost SOLD OUT, the proceeds of the books, with hand made covers, will be contributed to the Vauxhall Foood Bank, supported by the Trussell Trust and more will be available on demand.
We spoke to Jack Harper in detail about the process of creating this capsule and
changes in his ideology post COVID-19
First of all, how has this period of isolation influenced your thoughts on society and the creative industry?
It's made me seriously reconsider the idea of responsible consumption. Defining the difference between ‘need’ and ‘want’. Reflecting on society itself... I don't know how else to put it but we were just running a bit too fast. The industry has an obsession to obtain an inflated amount of profit which then results in mass production and then mass consumption. Reflecting on the way I consume, I don't even use half of it now… this question could literally be a book within itself. I just think the world needs to slow down and focus on helping and providing for one another, not for profit but for wellbeing.. for all.
You have been an advocate for creative solutions that are not just self-serving during this time, is ‘NOTICE’ your way of taking matters into your own hands?
I mean its something that we felt are capable with the resources that we have available - I'm sure that differs from person to person. Our restrictions and our personal reflections on our own practice is the result of NOTICE being the outcome. We don't have the answer, and in fact, no one does. But to the people that have the privilege to do so, we can be doing our part for our communities. Myself and Bella were fortunate to not be hit so hard with COVID, however, we are not the kind of people to kick our feet up and relax about it.
Why did you and Arabella choose to document something so specific?
We both currently live in Peckham and to put it blunt go out to restaurants pretty often. For something we do on the regular, that's now a thing of the past. Just before lockdown started, all of these places are now closed - I think given both our professions we saw the repetition there. As the week progressed we kept on seeing the same thing which then developed out into the book.
From going through the process and seeing the different notices, what were your findings? Did you recognise any patterns or messages that stood out?
The irony was that nothing did stand out. If anything it was quite an obscure detail - Focus is naturally going to drive towards the closed storefront itself rather than the message they left behind. What did stand out however was fundamentally the same message being communicated in the same way, by local and big commercial businesses. Boiling it down that was the pattern. All the same problems, all the same outcome.
How did you document and compile the content for this project?
Just before lockdown guidelines were put in place we spent 2 days or so going to various locations in London capturing them just on our iPhones. Via photoshop we extracted the text. We removed all company logos and contact information through post-process as we didn't want to confine this documentation to London. This is happening worldwide.
As an interdisciplinary designer, in this day and age the computer is very important, is pen to paper still something vital in your process?
I find that they are coexisting mediums that both have equal significance. The computer allows information to spread whilst pen to paper legitimises information. The outcome of this would of been very different if it just ended up being an Instagram page...
In your experience, how has the pandemic affected creative minds around you, maybe even positively?
I think the initial feeling of restriction can be frustrating as it does hinder your day to day and your creative process. However, that initial pain caused by restriction generates new ideas you may have not explored initially. Myself and Bella actually put this into the book to help the design process. The rule of 2-metre social distancing appropriated into a book being a 20mm space between the letters on the spine and a 20mm margin around the book.
Why was it important for you to use upcycled paper for this project?
If there's ever an opportunity to use responsible materials I think that should be the way to go. Aesthetic is not an excuse. I hope responsible communication and function takes priority over aesthetics within other creatives practices.
Was this your first time creating a book cover by hand? What did you learn?
Independently yes. When i was at ACW*, embellishing items such as lookbooks with spray paint, ink, plastidip, and so on. I guess hand-finishing felt familiar - It makes the item feel a lot more personal for the owner. I like to build that intimate relationship with the consumer if there's ever a chance. That's something I’d like to continue to do in my work.
You and your partner Arabella have been isolating together during this time. How have you guys been supporting each other? As many that will benefit from the ‘NOTICE’ project may not have that support system.
Honestly just being in the same room as each other gets you through the day. We both have individual moments of madness and we always end up putting each other back in check. It's actually been very good for us… and resulting in a project together.
Please tell us about the charity that you will be working with to provide aid from the proceeds?
Vauxhall foodbank by the Trussell Trust is the main food bank in South London, we both are from South of the river. Seeing empty shelves in supermarkets and also knowing people in my community that uses food banks… it felt like the necessary thing to do and was closest to our hearts.
What can we expect from Aeliza and you in the future?
AELIZA is the future. This is something that has not been done before. We will be launching officially at the end of the year.
I encourage anyone that has the privilege to do good in a time of need please do! The world needs creativity more than ever.
Purchase your copy of the book below.