STSQ: From Student to Publisher in 4 Years
Central Saint Martin’s graduates Stina Gromark and Louise Naunton Morgan founded the design studio STSQ – Stinsensqueeze in 2012. With offices in Paris and London, they have already worked on an impressive number of projects ranging from fashion to urban design. Their most ambitious project to date maybe the publication of the first book entirely dedicated to the work of Howard Tangye. Howard studied at CSM under Gladys Perint-Palmer and Elizabeth Suter who he often mentioned alongside Barbara Pearlman at Parsons, for their strong influence on his artistic development.
In addition to being a unique artist, Howard Tangye has worked for 32 years at Central Saint Martin’s where as head of the Womenswear Fashion BA course, he has taught generations of designers from John Galliano to Zac Posen and Christopher Kane. With much respect for his work in both the fashion and art worlds, Howard Tangye is surprisingly little known of the wider public. Before STSQ approached him, Howard regularly turned down offers by publishers to have his work reproduced.
Like most artists Howard has a very intimate relationship with his work and the process of its creation. On his website he explains: I draw for myself, and if I am not doing it physically I am mentally creating a line. Howard’s studio eventually took over his home; its walls transformed into canvas for his drawing; his drawings, mainly portraits, turned into conversations with his sitters; his sitters became close friends. With the aim of sharing his world with the public, Howard, Louise and Stina worked together over many months to create a unique book: WITHIN – Howard Tangye.
It exists today as a prototype and STSQ – Stinsensqueeze is trying to raise the £30,000 cost of its production via Kickstarter; it must do so before July 5 2013. Printed on a variety of papers this tactile book includes 52 artworks, photographs of Howard’s home by Kasia Bobula, texts by Marie McLoughlin and an introduction by Abraham Thomas, who curated a series of drawings Howard donated to the Victoria & Albert Museum. Contributions to this project start at £12 for a series of 5 postcards featuring Howard’s work.
With Stina Gromark currently in Paris, busy trying to raise the fund for WITHIN, Louise Naunton Morgan was kind enough to spend some time meeting with Modeconnect. We discussed how, four years only after graduating, STSQ took on such an ambitious project.
Louise, could you explain what STSQ is?
STSQ is Stina and myself; we are a Graphic Design company… or more accurately a design company; we do not like to limit ourselves but our main focus is on books and typography. We do a mix of things; a fashion label for example, for which we have created the branding identity, recently asked us to design the prints for their next collection. We have also been shortlisted to design a wall in Walthamstow.
How did you and Stina meet?
We met at Central Saint Martin’s where we attended together the Graphic Design BA course between 2006 and 2009.
The course has almost 100 students but through projects and critics we came to know and admire each other’s work and decided to collaborate on some projects. One of them was, at the end of our second year, to design the exhibition for the graduating show of the school’s Womenswear BA course. The following year we designed its catalogue. This is really how we got to know Howard Tangye.
When did you recognise that you and Stina worked well together and why do you think you work well together?
We are both very systematic in the way we approach design; from an initial concept we like to create a system, with its own logic and set of rules to which things have to obey. You do not realise these kinds of things about your work until you are about to graduate but we recognised it in each other.
We started to think about what we shared and what was different in our approaches. We do not pay attention to the same detail, for example. This reflective work helped us grow as creatives.
Did you always think you will be doing your own thing so soon after university?
A lot of my friends from University are doing their own things, or have a job and are doing their own things at the same time. Often they are the students who really engaged with the course and where at school every day.
Personally I never really considered working for some else. My graduating project, The Human Printer got quite a lot of interest which really helped me pick up freelance work after graduation. I have had no experience working as part as an existing studio; maybe it is taking longer for me to learn the profession…you have to learn fast! I think I knew I wanted to do my own things, I did not want to do what some else want.
But you have clients and still need to satisfy their demands?
Yes this is true. Working for clients and working on personal projects feed from each other; it help to think more creatively. I see working with clients as being collaborative…
A good illustration of this is the work we are doing with Howard Tangye. Many publishers approached him before us and Howard always refused. The reason Howard accepted to work with us is because we offered to put his point of view across rather than fit him into a working formula as a typical publisher would do; he felt we were ready to fight for what he wanted. It is quite a disruptive approach to publishing.
In most jobs you have this financial link, eventually the person paying has the last word; this does not apply at all, in the relationship between Howard, Stina and me.
When and how did you decide to work with Stina?
Well in fact after college we went our separate ways. We were both working; Stina also did an MA later at the Royal College of Art. One day I got an email from her saying: I have been sitting here thinking about what I’d like to do after my MA and I think I would like to set up my own studio and you are the person I’d like to do it with. I was interested. Then we approached things very practically; we found a few projects on which we worked together to see how it would work and a few months later we set up STSQ.
How did you approach the crowd funding of publishing Howard’s book?
We looked at the costs of producing the book. You have 30 days on Kickstarter to raise your target. We worked with a company called Sidekick Creatives, started by guys we knew from our students’ days; their aim is to help strategize Kickstarter’s campaigns, they made our film and helped us present the project. They suggested for example that we include the Printers into the film; Stina and I would not have thought about it but it is very good because now the Printers are involved more fully in the project and help us promote it.
Thanks again Louise and the best of luck for the funding and production of WITHIN – Howard Tangye