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@referencebank on Instagram
Art direction for The 1975 by Samuel Burgess Johnson@referencebank

The Instagram collecting creative inspirations

@dazedfashion’s Instagram of the week is @referencebank, an account sourcing references from the best artistic minds

Described as ‘a tool to widen your creative references and expand your practice’, @referencebank is the Instagram account gathering the best in visual inspiration from a host of creative minds. The creation of art director and lecturer Anna Rhodes, who has worked on projects for the likes of Kanye West, the Tate Modern, and Net-A-Porter, the informative account sees various insiders from the worlds of film, art and fashion take over to post the references behind their work. Rhodes tells us more about the project, @dazedfashion’s Instagram of the week.  

Who are you?

Anna Rhodes: I am a production designer and art director working in film, music video, commercials, and stills. I also work as Studio Lecturer on the Graphic Design Communication BA at Chelsea College of Art about one day a week, the same course I studied on many years ago.

What motivated you to start the account?

Anna Rhodes: I found that the students often did not have a great pool of references from art or film to help inform their design work. Their primary research mainly consisted of trawling through contemporary design blogs, which serves the purpose of showing us great work in design that’s happening now, without necessarily showing which older work might have informed the new. It’s like referencing “Hotline Bling” when you could reference James Turrell.  

How do you source images? 

Anna Rhodes: I try and scrape the depths of my memory and my personal inspiration points as much as possible. In my professional practice, (production design), I have to make moodboards and reference work from film, photography, art, and also Tumblr or Pinterest in every job I do, so stuff constantly comes up that I know would be good for the feed.

What makes a good reference?

Anna Rhodes: Something that feels timeless, but at the same time has a sense of the ‘now’ or ‘wow’... A great composition, interesting colour. Something that broke boundaries when it was first made. Crossing a wide range of different mediums and disciplines is important, so painting, choreography, sound art, film, TV etc. I’m just as interested and impressed if a student references Acorn Antiques or John Baldessari. It’s a question of breadth. 

Do you think people are too lazy with their references during a time when everything is at their fingertips?

Anna Rhodes: I do, unfortunately. While design blogs are brilliant, I do think they can be quite stunting at the same time if viewed obsessively.

“(Students often) trawl through contemporary design blogs, which show us great work that’s happening now, without necessarily showing which older work might have informed it. It’s like referencing Hotline Bling when you could reference James Turrell”

What do you notice about the references your students tend to look at?

Anna Rhodes: Often I feel as though there’s not enough digging. Perhaps someone would reference some choreography in a music video, I would expect them to then know or find out what has informed that particular choreographic style – was it Bausch and Expressionism? Akram Khan and Kathak? Dig Deeper.

How do you choose who to collaborate with?

Anna Rhodes: Because my professional practice means I’m collaborating with great filmmakers and creatives all the time I’m always finding people who would be good to feature. I’m also very lucky in that I find my friendship group (most of whom I went to art school with a long time ago) inspiring creatively and stylistically. I’ve reached out to people I don’t know as well, for example the illustrator John Booth who is going to guest on @referencebank soon. I was introduced to his work by my friends who recently had their portraits done in ceramic for their wedding. I just messaged him on Instagram and asked if he’d be up for it, and luckily he said yes. People tend to react quite positively about the project and want to be involved.

What makes a great submission?

Anna Rhodes: Something that’s not been wildly seen before, or perhaps not for a while. It’s always nice to be reminded that a great piece of work exists when maybe you’d forgotten it had.

Who are your favourite designers, photographers, artists? (now and then)

Anna Rhodes: Donald Judd, Pina Bausch, Stephen Shore, Tracey Emin, John Baldessari, Tarkovsky, Jenny Holzer, Wim Wenders, Terrence Malick, Janet Cardiff, Aoife McArdle, George Shaw, Morandi, Leo Todd, Annie Leibovitz, Emmanuel Lubezki, Mike Mills, Jacqueline Rabun, Four Corners Books… the list goes on. 

Favourite fellow Instagrammers?

Anna Rhodes: @raven__smith,, @davidjameswhite_,, @jessicafrankland, @hansulrichobrist amongst many, many others.