Editor’s note: Red Lemon Club, thanks to the help of Philip Dennis, now do interview features to reveal insight into the success of various creative individuals and brands around the world.
Beach London is a gallery that has evolved various facets as a creative outlet, becoming much more than clean, white walls adorned with contemporary graphic art.
They have established themselves as a welcome meeting place within the art and design community; hosting events, working on collaborations, and even starting to take on commissions as a multidisciplinary agency.
Since it’s inception 5 years ago, the team has continued to cultivate a network of creative talent that they now regularly work with on project-specific teams for well-know brands such as Converse, MTV, and Red Bull.
We talk to Charlie Hood about what it’s like to open the doors to a new arts space and how they have handled the way in which it has developed.
Can you tell us about Beach London as a space, agency, and self-described ‘creative laboratory’ and your involvement?
Well, we’ve always worked with commercial creatives. When we opened, there weren’t many places that allowed those kind of artists to make artwork for artworks space—or offered them a space to exhibit.
I suppose the ‘Creative Laboratory’ thing came from that—we’d allow those artists—who’d spend their days working for brands, or companies—to work and develop their practice in a formal fine art environment.
What kind of creative backgrounds were members of the initial team coming from?
I studied sculpture, and was sculpture technician for Fine Art at Essex Uni (very badly). Rob (Flowers) who works here is a very good/well-established illustrator.
What were some of the more challenging aspects of getting a new gallery off the ground?
Of course—the footfall on the street was a BIG shocker. I remember opening the doors on the first day and thinking ‘oh fuck’. But we sold coffee and stuff; we’ve always been pretty good at following where the money’s at.
You describe Beach London as a place for the ‘most exciting illustrators, designers and more’. What do you look for when selecting new artists to bring into the fold?
Hmm, this is the second time I’ve been asked this today and I don’t really know: we are looking for people who are passionate about drawing, making work and don’t take it too seriously: having a real fun/DIY influence is important.
We love graphics based on character design, old comics, skateboard graphics and I think that kinda covers what we like aesthetically: but we’ve shown designers, sculptors, and photographers so I think it’s having a sort of flair.
If an artist is looking to get their work into a space like yours, what would you suggest as the best approach?
Just be cool, be nice, and be interested in what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. Don’t take offence if we don’t consider something to be right, it’s not personal.
What are some mistakes you think people make when they are trying to get their work out there?
The classic is spam e-mails. It’s not easy and I don’t envy people doing it, it’s very hard. But you have to stand out in some way.
The best way, of course, is to be doing a lot of really good work, showing good work, working with cool people—and get noticed organically. I guess that’s why Instagram’s pretty good because some people you’ll see and be like ‘How have I missed this person?’
The projects that you undertake are varied and exciting—you even say that it’s a place to ‘test the creative boundaries’.What do you mean by that and why is that another element you wanted to explore?
Ha, we like to do some stupid shit and try to get paid for it: Stuff we’d like to see out there, and hope that we’re not the only ones…! We like drinking beer, having fun, messing about—that’s what it’s all about innit?
How did the idea of developing Beach London as an agency come about?
Well, lots of people/brands/companies were getting in touch about doing this and that with artist X who’d be showing at the space, so it just seemed logical.
What have been some of the more interesting things for you about going from showcasing work to creating it yourselves?
I dunno, it doesn’t seem too far off it to be honest: we’ve learnt how to organise stuff really well from organising the shows. Beach is brand, the work we do is for brands: and liaising with artists, so it’s a very simple progression!
It’s something I wish I was taught more of at art school, and what I like to talk about when I teach. Studying an arts subject can help you to be very organised—it’s very self initiated, and you have to get off your arse to do stuff: an important trait, I think, for most employers in any industry. Lots of young art school grads don’t have much confidence in their ability to do this.
How do you handle the promotional side of getting the Beach London name out there and bringing attention to the projects you work on?
Unfortunately, we don’t do a lot. Only mainly social. Which seems to do the job. But we work with lots of different people of course, and they’re all helping push it too—we push them, they push us.
That’s always been the general plan. VERY briefly we took on a PR company. That didn’t really work for us….
What advice would you give to someone interested in opening a creative space?
Enjoy it and don’t let it ruin your life. Be adaptable and be flexible!
With an already large amount of evolution in the first few years, do you have plans to expand into new areas in the future? Where do you see Beach London going from here?
Our lease runs out in the current space in May. My new year’s resolution is to worry about this; I don’t have a clue at the moment. One’s to do satellite shows; another’s to develop the agency; another’s to go full throttle and open a bigger, concept store.
My friend Chiara (who runs a jazzy calligraphy studio called Lamplighter London) and I had an idea to open ‘Charlie and Chiara’s Concept Chain for cool collectibles beginning with C: Calligraphy, Craft Beer, Cacti, Cocktails and other crap’.
Above: Charlie Hood
All images © Beach London, 2016