Young Pines

Laura Robertson talks to the aptly-named Young Pines, getting the skinny on rude drawings, internships and experimentation…

Young Pines are an eclectic bunch. Thrust together as part of creative agency Mercy’s new intern project, the group of designers, illustrators and writers only met this year and have already started to make their mark around the region. To date they have worked on campaigns for The Wombats, Liverpool’s bar of choice The Shipping Forecast, club night Chibuku, and Manchester based artzine ‘OWT.

The four we interview today – Greg Gibson, Jonathon Summers-Muir, Michael Cottage and Thom Isom – are a mixture of graduates and current students finding their way in an arts sector where jobs are hard to come by; unless it’s a volunteer job of course (thanks ‘Big Society’).  The word intern, almost inevitably, conjures an image of the over-experienced and over-skilled, sullenly making tea and loitering by the photocopier, dreaming of a proper full time job. Turns out this wasn’t the case, Jonathon and Thom explain.  “How Mercy have approached the intern project is a better way of doing things… giving us confidence and taking what they think is bad about internships and tailoring it to be the opposite.”

Encouraged to take creative lead on projects from a host of paying clients, and receiving mentoring from graduate creative champions Shellsuit Zombie and low-fi mag Feverzine, they also had to design and respond to their own brief. This was a chance, as Thom puts it, “to tailor the brief to individual talents and play around with media and not restrict ourselves… a chance to experiment. The drive isn’t money; it’s to get a good piece of work out there.”

“There’s a real idea that we could establish something”

And good work is exactly what they are doing. One of the exciting projects in fruition is The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife, an ambitious book and exhibition of sexually explicit prose, poetry and illustration which uses mythology and fairy tales as a starting point. The project’s contributors include poets Tim Wells and Rob Auton, and artists Matt Oxborrow and Emma Louise Scutt, creating an immersive experience through music, sound maps and QR codes. Our favourite has to be the beautiful recording An erotic re-imagining of Lucy’s first encounter with Mr Tumnus. Risqué ain’t the word…

Whilst we try not to get too flustered at the erotic subject matter, the topic turns to Liverpool. Why do these guys like working here, and are they tempted to respond to London’s siren song? Thom: “I respect places like Wolstenholme, The Royal Standard, and what A-Foundation and CUC were doing. I don’t see why artists and designers have to move to London, I think people should make the most of the North.”

Greg adds: “The BBC are sending people up to Media City (Greater Manchester), and the North is being seen as more creative. I personally can’t imagine living in London, can’t imagine living anywhere else apart from Liverpool. There’s always something on… Abandon Normal Devices Festival, Writing on the Wall, events that last months at a time.”

And what of Liverpool’s uncertain arts future, with so many places that we like and respect closing down? Thom: “You know that people have enough energy and drive to keep going. Everywhere is having trouble, but there’s a sense that Liverpool will pull through. The mentality especially in Liverpool is very gung ho. There’s a real idea that we could establish something.”

Michael: “Something exciting’s bound to happen with a group like the Young Pines that all have a similar goal. We are progressing to be something very good indeed.” Here at The Double Negative we couldn’t agree more.

Laura Robertson

Posted on 17/12/2011 by thedoublenegative