The psychedelic design artist takes us through his 20 years of output, now being showcased at east London’s Idea Generation Gallery
Filled with nostalgia for the golden age of the 60s, Leo Zero channels hypnotic psychedelic vibes in his design work fronting a generation of musicians, clubs and brands. Drawn together through this common interest, like moths to a kaleidoscopic flame of cosmic colours, giant eyeballs, intergalactic robots and lollipop sticks, Luke Insect and Dave Little join Leo to make-up the Golden Sun Movement art collective. Acclaimed as three of the UK’s most influential graphic artists, their 20 years of work has been harvested for an exhibition at Idea Generation Gallery. Leo Zero guides Dazed Digital through the 20 years…
Dazed Digital: How did you come together to form the Golden Sun Movement?
Leo Zero: I’d been admiring Luke insect’s work for a while so when we meet up through Adrian Darby my manager and I immediately began hatching plans for a show and started the arm twisting to get him on board. Dave Little is someone I’ve been a massive fan of for years and I contacted him to design me a logo for my music project ‘Rat Salad Edits’ - Dave is also managed by Adrian. We struck up a friendship and together have organised an archive of his work for the show from our joint collections – I’ve been collecting Dave Little club flyers & fanzines since I was 15, and have pulled out loads of stuff even he’d forgot about!
DD: What was the filtering process like for the exhibition? Did going through your work bring back a lot of memories? What pieces stand out and why?
Leo Zero: My archive for the show stretches back 20 years through a misspent youth of early acid house parties, Ibiza trips, and various parties in fields, stately homes, railways tunnels, and even cow sheds - in and around the infamous M25 orbital rave zone. All the flyers and posters are a great memory jogger back to those incredible times. I was fresh out of art school and a wet behind the ears freelance designer working for all sorts of unscrupulous promoters and DJ types. I learnt on the job and managed like loads of people at the time to fully circumnavigate ever having a ‘proper job’ again! Acid house got a lot of people into the creative world who might not have done so otherwise, that’s it’s big legacy.
DD: What draws you to the psychedelic?
Leo Zero: I’ve always had a taste for the psychedelic, and as I’ve got older I’ve become more and more Cosmically inclined with every year. By the time I reach my 80th birthday I hope to dress exclusively in kaftans and live on a diet of Ayuascha and pink lemonade…
DD: Who/what are your inspirations?
Leo Zero: Malcolm McClaren & Trevor Horn making Duck Rock together and most of what they’ve done individually too, things Bill Drummond writes and the art he makes, Six colour 60’s Scando fabric prints, custard creams, and Balearic Beats.
DD: What do you think design gives to music?
Leo Zero: Design makes music much sexier – I remember seeing those classic New order sleeves for the first time and being seduced in an instant – it’s very powerful when someone gets it right.
DD: What has been your favourite project to work on and why?
Leo Zero: I’ve just done my first mix compilation on Strut Records and that was a dream come true. I managed to licence amazing tracks by Can and Brian Eno and I got to design the artwork too, and of course Golden Sun Movement.
DD: How has your work changed over time?
Leo Zero: I’m still finding loads of new techniques all the time and that’s what keeps evolving – but other than that my core style is pretty set – rough round the edges - old meets new, lo-if meets hi-tech, photoshop vs. scissors and glue – all mashed up in a great big mess – same thing goes for my musical output and remix work.
'ON' runs until the 8 May at the Idea Generation Gallery, 11 Chance Street, London, E2 7JB