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Stone and Spear

Circus prints and retro burlesque photographs characterise the work of up-and-coming illustrator and designer Simon Cook

Stone and Spear is illustrator and designer Simon Cook, who chose the pseudonym from his middle names, Peter and Frank. His bright, almost child-like designs have been featured in Wired, Anorak and used by Ikea to promote their latest catalogue. Having originally come from a Fine Arts background, he went on to study Illustration at Nottingham Trent university, where he got involved with making flyers for the club scene there.

This mix of Fine Art and contemporary youth culture shows itself in his work through his mixing of neon graphic shapes with retro photography and illustration. "I always like my designs and illustrations to look like little handcrafted pieces of art," he explains. In 2010, Cook was shortlisted for New Designer of the Year and named by Creative Review as ‘one of this years most promising graduates in visual communication’.

Dazed Digital: Tell us about the world of Stone and Spear?
Stone and Spear:
 Conceived through my middle names, Stone meaning Peter and Spear, meaning Frank, Stone and Spear has been my way of creating a fantasy land where anything is possible…a world in which I could escape the monotonous routine of day-to-day life. There’s a strong sense of magic and wonder within my work relating strongly to the Surrealism idea too - exploring dreams, the imagination, and the opposite of reality. Deep.

DD: Your work is very bright and graphic, what influences this?
Stone and Spear: From a young age, I was always drawing and doodling away as a child. My obsession with the circus has perhaps been my main influence. That’s how it all started. By constantly seeking inspiration through nostalgic memories and childhood experiences, the playful combination of wit and humour is something that continues to develop and excite within my work. I couldn’t ask for anything more. I love the Memphis movement from the early 80’s too and I’m greatly inspired by Mary Blair. A Disney design legend.

DD: You've been heavily involved with the club scene through flyers e.g. Your Mum's House, how did this come about?
Stone and Spear:
 Well, having moved down to London between my second and third year at university for internships, I made some great contacts. When I was approached by YMH I was drawn to the concept right away and instinctively had a look and feel already planned in my head. I always do this. Ha. The freedom to be playful and cheeky made it all worthwhile. Looking back, the Your Mum’s House artwork really did kick start where I am today.

DD: Talk us through the creative process of your work. Where do you get your ideas, how do you develop them etc?
Stone and Spear:
 I usually start by sketching ideas then thinking about colour pallets, which determines the mood and feel of the piece. I use a combination of techniques, firstly cutting shapes and images and then compiling on the computer. Having drawn on the recent wave of geometric design and removing it from its digital environment, I’ve been able to successfully introduce it into a collage context. Thus creating artwork that has depth and character via quirky imagery and handmade elements.

DD: A lot of your images are available as merchandise, is this all part of a plan for world domination?
Stone and Spear:
 How did you know? I’ve always been devoted to developing self-initiated work so creating an exclusive range of Stone and Spear merchandise seemed like the next logical step. Currently stocked in London based boutiques Lik+Neon and Concrete Hermit, I’ve also just set up my own online shop... Shop ‘til you drop.

DD: If you could say one thing to the world, what would it be?
Stone and Spear:
 Kowabunga dude.