Al White

Edinburgh / Glasgow

“Al’s work speaks it’s own language - offering frenetic landscapes born from hours of responsive and intuitive visual play these seemingly chaotic compositions portray the cognitive impulses that he feeds into them. As your eyes devour the entanglements of letter form and texture his images reveal a skilful balance and measured energy that come from a master of instinctual mark-making. These surreal combinations of organic matter and brutally architectural graphics hint at the developed Scottish environments that surround it’s major cities.” - b r u ï

What are the links between your tastes in music and taste in art/design?

Atmosphere is probably the main thing. I like music and visual art that leads you into another zone, usually a pretty hazy space but I’m easy. Even a poster can do this. I like art (including music) that doesn’t communicate a clear message, that isn’t polished and overly complete. It should all be well constructed though and have a delicate balance, for my tastes.

How do you approach designing for bands/artists/events, and how does the sound of each project effect the visual outcome?

Again, atmosphere is the starting point and I go with a gut reaction initially. I’d usually start with the music itself and then fill a quick sketchbook page with ideas, thumbnails, notes etc until the thing started to make sense to me in visual terms, to some degree. After that I would tend to go off on a tangent and get lost in making whatever it is, then return to the music at the end to see how it sits together. Most of the time this would help me fine tune things, occasionally it would prompt me to start again. I definitely try to avoid any interpretation that is too literal and also believe that the sonic and visual to not have to be in perfect logical harmony. Sometimes a bit of conflict between the two can help paint a more interesting image overall. Of course it varies hugely depending on the project and the client. If the brief is to restrictive though I’m generally not interested.

Do you treat type as image and how do you balance the two in your compositions?

Yes, I don’t really see them separately, which could have a lot to do with the fact that I am not a graphic designer by trade. Aesthetically the type is just a shape of texture like anything else on the page. Of course, there is a balance needed between the functional and purely aesthetic. There’s no real logic here for me, I just experiment with the type and imagery until it feels right. If I am doing a piece with hand drawn type then the line between the image and text can be more difficult to define. Drawing letters is a huge simple pleasure for me but there isn’t always time.

Could you explain the idea of ‘crud’ and where your influences come from in terms of designing busy textured landscapes?

Crud is mostly just a stupid name but it is also lots of different forms of matter from various origins, both organic and synthetic, compacted into a small crumbly brick universe that you wouldn’t want in your home. Related to this would be my interest in how manmade structures and nature intertwine and the idea of them becoming indistinguishable in a parallel world where huge concrete weeds grow out of fluorescent ecky swamps.