Take just one look at the logos, typefaces, and typographic illustrations by Seb Lester and you’ll be able instantly to tell that his passion lies in letterforms. The London-based designer, whose clients include Apple, Nike, Intel, The New York Times, and The 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, gave us a peek inside his playlist while working on pieces for a possible solo show in London in 2011.
What do you listen to while you work? There aren’t really many genres of music I won’t listen to and I listen to music all the time. Looking through my “Recently Played” list in iTunes there’s The Smiths, Grieg, The Sixteen, some Medieval music, Gorillaz, Dean Martin, and lots of electronica by people like Noisia, Broken Note, Klute, and Calibre.
How do you listen? I work long hours, so I listen on headphones when it’s late but mostly via computer speakers via iTunes.
Does music influence your work? Music does inspire me and fuel my work. I find myself listening to different music depending on what I’m designing. If I’m designing a book jacket for a book of medieval poetry, I find listening to Anthrax doesn’t really help me get inside the head of what a 15th-century monk might be thinking. Some aspects of my work are somewhat drawn out, repetitive, and technical—though Anthrax might be more appropriate listening in terms of keeping me awake late at night as I battle a deadline. Letterforms are like music in that they can be very expressive and convey moods and emotions, albeit in a more muted way.
Where do you find music recommendations? Who influences your musical taste? I guess friends and specific DJs on stations like Radio 1 and Classic FM. Obviously websites are clever now with their “People who bought this also bought this” trickery, so I have been known to find out about other artists that way.
If your work was a song or a musician, what or who would it be? Very difficult because I try to keep my work as diverse as my taste in music. Whether it happens or not, the musician I’d like to best represent my work one day would be someone who could turn his hand to any style and do it at the highest level.
Swing Me a Swing Song, Benny Goodman
Split the Atom, Noisia
Danse Royale, St George’s Canzona
Officium Defunctorum, The Sixteen
On Melancholy Hill, Gorillaz
When You’re Smiling, Dean Martin
Less Los Ablos, Calibre
Penny Serenade, Guy Lombardo
Smokin’ Mountain, Alex Dolby
Reason to Believe, Bobby Darin
Images: Seb Lester