Grime has always had a strong visual element.
Whether that's the cover of the latest mixtape or the logo for a pirate radio statement, grime's visual side has always run concurrently to its explosive musical growth.
Now, a young designer has stepped in to re-cast a series of grime releases as posters for Hollywood blockbusters - and they're pretty damn cool.
A social media sensation, everything from 'Boy In Da Corner' to 'Konnichiwa' gets re-worked, given a bold, brash re-contexualisation.
Clash tracked down the young designer responsible, and - as it turns out - her story is every bit as vital as the posters themselves.
Sophia Tassew is a 19 year old designer with no formal qualifications, who nonetheless hustled her way into a top London design company via an inventive scheme aimed to unearth talent in young women frequently overlooked by the creative industries.
Check the posters up top - there's a Q&A down below.
- - -
What’s your design background? Have you always been attracted to the way visuals can tell a story?
I’ve never formally studied graphic design or anything but I’ve always been a huge art head. I used to sell commissioned oil paintings, too. You don’t need any experience to understand or appreciate art. It resonates with everyone somehow which is the beautiful thing about it. I also gained all my design knowledge by staying up late and watching YouTube tutorials. How fun.
You dropped out of university because you felt it wasn’t right for a creative mindset, is that right? What led you to make that decision?
I made that decision because I’m not paying £9000 a year for crappy slide-shows And useless lectures. I knew that something wasn’t right and that there was more out there, you know? I always did my research on some of the top dogs in the creative industry and a lot of them didn’t attend university. Not to say that uni is absolutely pointless though. It just wasn’t for me.
Was gaining difficult to the creative industries difficult? Did you have to fight to open those doors?
It’s definitely a competitive industry. Being yourself and believing in your vision is the key to getting people to believe in you 100%. The industry has a huge problem with diversity, too, which is one of the reasons why I was determined to get my foot in the door and to hopefully inspire other young creatives that can relate to me.
You gained access to the design industry through The GirlHood, a project aimed at supporting new female talent. How did you get involved?
The scheme was founded by Kati Russell and Natalie Rodden – props go to them!
So after I left uni, I was back at home. I searched for opportunities every single day until I found one. I was applying for creative roles that required 10 years experience and I didn’t even have a portfolio yet alone any experience at all. I came across something called The GirlHood and got a ticket to their recruitment workshop.
Running 30 minutes late, I wasn’t even going to go. I turned up on the day anyway and was met with a room full of at least 50 other girls. After many stages of interviews, I was selected to be in the final nine. From there we were given five weeks of intense training on how to respond to briefs, plan ideas and develop our creative being. After five weeks of industry bootcamp – I got a placement at FCB Inferno as an art director – wohoo!
Where did the inspiration for these posters come from? Have you always been a fan of grime?
I listen to grime when I need inspiration or when I’m at work. It reminds me that I’m doing what I do not only for myself but for the culture too. Over the past few months I’ve learned that being proud of where you come from can do amazing things to your work. I’m also a big film nerd. I love looking at stills from iconic movies and their official posters. I wanted to merge the two together!
What is it about grime that inspires you? Is it the music, or the original visuals used with the releases… or both?
I think it’s just being able to really feel like you’re part of something. I see people like Skepta and Stormzy on TV and feel so proud. There’s definitely more to the grime aesthetic than council estates and chicken shops. It’s the feeling of belonging. It’s so amazing how we’re able to translate all of this into amazing music.
How did you decide which albums to focus on? Are these personal favourites?
I picked out some personal and general favourites like 'Boy In Da Corner' and 'Konnichiwa' because they’re easily recognizable. I thought they would make awesome movies too.
It’s been a huge success on social media – that must have been a huge thrill! What’s it like to see people interact with your art like that?
Yes! I honestly didn’t expect them to blow up like that. It’s an amazing feeling when you see people appreciate something that’s taken a long time to create. I’m truly thankful. I’ve received a lot of requests for prints too!
Have any of the artists been in touch?
Not yet but hopefully they will!
Do you plan to continue the series? They’d make great screenprints for the Clash office… just saying!
Haha! Of course! It has definitely inspired me to take it more seriously. I want to create a whole bunch of these now. I might even hook Clash Magazine up with some prints.
- - -
Follow Sophie Tassew on Twitter.