The idea for the ARTOMATIC shop was triggered by the space. Mat Bickley joined us to bring the whole Clerkenwell project to life and after looking for first floor office space, came back with three floors in Great Sutton Street in Clerkenwell, including a shop front. The landlord wouldn't split it, so we took the whole thing and expanded the vision to match–if we had to meet-and-greet people, we might as well sell them some stuff at the same time. So, why not have a shop?
My vision for Clerkenwell wasn't entirely clear at its inception. The idea was simple–real things have a new value in a physical world–but I little idea what that might look like in reality. My skill was in finding people who did have an idea and giving them the opportunity. It may have looked haphazard, there was a lot of planning went into it. The peculiar junction of printing, design, pop-culture, street culture, Graffiti and Japanese graphic figures was anything but accidental. Mat, Daniel and Niki were way ahead of the game and could see a connection to my vision of meaningful physcial objects and brought both their own interests and contacts together to light the fuse on a number of global trends from one small shop in Clerkenwell.
The ARTOMATIC store still puzzles me. What might have been a ridiculous brand-stretch: commercial printer to cutting-edge retailer–was in fact, effortless. And, without doubt, we anticipated a fascination with ephemeral physical objects that's still growing now. It wasn't a commercial success–and that's what puzzles me. Was it because people don't actually buy this stuff–they can take the ideas out of the store without buying them–"I saw this great blah blah today" or was it because it was new and needed patience and financing? I'll never know, all I can do is see if it's still relevant today.
Anyway, I'd forgotten quite how good it looked and these pictures make me smile.