What do Nottingham and outer space have in common? Well, if you’ve got the creative skills of Alex Traska, quite a bit. We had a chinwag with the Nottingham artist to find out how he managed to put together such a cracking cover and pull-out poster...
Tell us a bit about yourself…
I’m a proud Nottingham resident, and have been for 35 years. I’ve always kept my foot in the door of various music, arts and cultural goings-on, and as a freelance designer during my studies at NTU in the early 00s, a lot of my work came from designing posters and flyers for nightclubs and gigs. After studying, and a lot of faffing about running the now-closed Myhouseyourhouse radio, I set up a business by accident in 2011. Eight years later we’re now a team of six at Makermet - a brand consultancy, design and marketing agency in the Lace Market.
What was the inspiration behind this month’s cover and poster art?
“Would you be up for doing a cover for the space issue of LeftLion?” was the brief in its entirety - but who needs more? It’s space, and the imaginative possibilities are endless. There’s a photo trick where you take a 360-degree picture of a place (say, Market Square) and it looks like a planet - I think LeftLion featured some recently. I wanted to do that, but went with photo-collages making up Nottingham-related planets, sat amongst lots of other Notts references and hidden jokes.
How does it compare with other projects you’ve created?
It’s been great to have a ‘vanity project’, where you can dust off some old tools and techniques you can’t whip out on corporate projects we often work on through the agency. It harks back to the work I did for a series of club nights in London around 2009, which used this photo compositing technique. I’m a designer who can’t draw, so I’ve always had to find alternative ways of depicting what’s in my mind’s eye. Fortunately, eighteen years of late nights with Photoshop means I’ve not had to buy a pencil sharpener in years.
Tell us about some projects you’ve worked on in the past…
In terms of local work people may recognise, I used to do a lot of work for Dealmaker promoted events; a series of posters commissioned by Ste Allan for Quantic, Polar Bear, Portico Quartet, Zara McFarlane and Origami Biro gigs. I did the Dealmaker logo too, which until a few weeks ago was above their door opposite the Broadway Cinema. Now, working as Makermet, we maintain the websites and print work we’ve developed for Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature and the Creative Quarter, amongst lots of other local tourism projects and support for small businesses.
What do you think about Nottingham’s creative scene?
It’s as exciting as it’s been in my memory. The explosion of independent businesses in Hockley has given the community a great focal point, with plenty of bars and coffee shops to bump into everyone doing so much amazing creative work here. It doesn’t feel like we’re all in competition either - there’s enough work to go around for all the artists, photographers, agencies and freelance designers that I know - so we’re all keen to hang out, share ideas and beers. I think Dizzy Ink has been one of the most exciting additions to our creative scene here, and they deserve a massive shout out for all their hard work putting together workshops, talks and zine fairs as well as trying to run a business! That’s bloody hard work.
What have you got planned for the future?
More sleep. Less work. A natural wine pop-up. Basically, anything that gives me more time away from the glow of a computer screen. I don’t want to become trapped by a profession I love so much.
Have you got anything else to say to the LeftLion readers?
Go and do a workshop at Dizzy Ink. And - shameless self promo - come to The Angel on the first Sunday of every month where I DJ as one half of LOOSE JOINTS. We play all manner of good tunes whilst drinking more beer than you should on a school-night.