Jonathan Ellery is a graphic designer and artist. He runs the London based design group Browns.
You exhibit your art work in galleries – what shows or exhibitions have you seen lately?
The one show that springs to mind was the Paul Graham retrospective at the Whitechapel this year. A very beautiful and poetic show that meandered it’s way through the gallery spaces. For so many years as a photographer he’d been quietly getting on with things, an outsider of sorts, so for him to finally be recognised, to be understood and celebrated was a big moment.
Another show I really enjoyed was joint affair by Scott King & Mathew Darbyshire at the Herald St Gallery. Two very different artists, two very different ways of working, coming together and it really worked. It was great. Herald St reminded me of what art should be all about. It took me half an hour to find the bloody place, the complete opposite of the Tate.
What are you reading?
Not much at the moment. I bought A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters by Taryn Simon a few weeks back which I’m dipping into every now and then. I read a lot, all day and every day, but I don’t read many books.
Have you been motivated to move your reading to iPad or Kindle?
Not really. I read the odd newspaper on my ipad but I would prefer one I can read in the bath.
What has caught your eye in the world of design?
The sheer pace of change at the moment is staggering with no one quite knowing what the hell is going on. If anyone tells you otherwise, they’re lying. So in that respect it’s perfect, no one is particularly comfortable and I don’t mean just financially. Every one is a little anxious which is where great stuff comes from. I’m really enjoying it. It’s a great time to be alive.
Do you watch TV? Listen to the radio?
I really love television. After a culturally stacked week I love nothing more than to sit down with the misses and watch two men beat the living daylights out of one another in The Ultimate Fighting Championships. Other favourites include When Sport Goes Bad, America’s Dumbest Criminals, Seconds From Disaster and When Women Kill. One of the most compelling documentaries I’ve seen recently was The Scheme which followed the lives and times of a handful of families from an estate in Kilmarnock, it was absolutely brilliant in it’s delivery. It reminded me of Ray’s a Laugh by Richard Billingham which is one of my favourite books of all time.
Does music play a part in your life? Records? Gigs? Making music?
We have music on all the time in the studio, so yes I guess it plays a big part in my life. I don’t go to too many gigs. The last three I’ve been to and really enjoyed were 2001: A Space Odyssey at the Royal Festival Hall with live score performed by Philharmonia Orchestra, Spiritualized at the Barbican which was pretty hardcore, and an altogether more soothing experience was Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto at the Roundhouse. All three were brilliant!
After a busy week running the Browns' studio, how do you relax?
At the end of most weeks I find I’m bloody knackered. I’ve got a great local boozer which I tend to go to for a few pints of Guinness on a Friday evening, not that I’m set in my ways or anything. At weekends, to have no plans is a luxury. I get on the bike and see where it takes us, have some good food, read the newspapers, meet up with chums, play with the cats, water the plants, have a swim, and if I’m lucky go on my mates boat down the Thames.
I love the newspapers. During the week it’s the Guardian. At weekends it’s as many as I can get my hands on, the good and the dreadful. The whole phone hacking thing happening at the moment is unbelievable; it’s all going to come tumbling down. I watched with great interest the body language of Rebekah Brooks whilst she sat in front of the House of Commons Select Committee and found myself really enjoying it. Fascinating.
Do you look at blogs? Are you a social media person?
I use the internet all the time but I vary rarely visit blogs. I’m not on Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter or any of them. I would rather stare at the sun than join the sewers of humanity.