Hi Kemar, could you tell us about what first got you into design?
The album cover Boy In Da Corner (Dizzee Rascal, 2003) was the first time that I looked at album covers and started asking “how was this done?”. It made me wonder what the entire process behind it was – everything from the styling to the final result. Even now, I love seeing the full thought process and execution behind something.
What made you choose to pursue graphic design as a career?
I’m an artistic person and I can’t go a day without thinking of a new idea. I like creating things by using textures and shapes to form something totally different. I also just love finding out how and why something has been designed, whether it’s for a specific purpose or if it’s just simply “because it looks nice”. Not that there’s anything wrong with something just looking nice though!
Are there any aspects of your life that are led by design?
I think the strongest thing would be the way I dress. Going shopping has given me such an appreciation for design. If you think about it, we only actually need a tshirt, a pair of jeans and some shoes, but great design makes you want to own more and more, it has the power to change everything.
Who are the main influences on your work?
– Ben Drury, He’s worked close with Dizzee Rascal over the past few years and his website is such a great archive of work. My favourite thing of his is the Autobiography of graffiti artist Futura that he designed.
– Peter Saville, I love the Umbro kit that he designed for England Football team! He actually started off designing album covers and widened his repertoire from there. That’s what is so great about design, it’s an endless platform – you can start doing something small then end up working on a huge billboard.
What attributes do you think constitutes quality design?
For me, a real driver for good design is a strong idea and a strong sense of taste. I personally think that a strong idea is often something simple. For example, the Nike logo – it’s simple but incredibly recognisable and effective.
What are some of your favourite pieces of merch you’ve seen over the years?
Eminem had an official urinal mat with his face on! Otherwise, the band Grateful Dead have some amazing merch, they completely created their own world and their own aesthetic based around little bear characters.
What would you class as your biggest career moment to date?
The “Cube” design that I did in collaboration with Carhartt. They’ve always championed NTS and always have us involved with in-store external events. The collaboration started with it just being NTS designs printed on Carhartt tee’s but they liked them so much that it grew into a huge collaboration that was stocked internationally and required promotional video concepts and graphics.
What have been your best design moments at NTS?
It’s honestly a great moment every day just having your work put out there to be shared to the masses. Specifically though, I did some work promoting a comedy show that Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) was working on. We sat together in his hotel room and created the artwork for the flyers. We used his handwriting on the flyers within the artwork which gave it a really nice personal touch.