Somewhere out in East London, a man is meticulously working endless hours, pouring every molecule of himself into creating the next wave of design. Designs that could alter the course of creative culture and visually impact fields like music, film, and fashion. He is known as GEO.
Though GEO is young in age, he’s collaborated with some of the most important figureheads in modern culture. As a designer for DONDA, he has creative cohorts in Kanye West and Virgil Abloh, and has collaborated with the legendary Wes Lang. His most notable pieces come by way of album cover and merchandise design, where he's helped birth looks for the likes of Pusha T, Big K.R.I.T., and Travis Scott. But his story is much bigger than that.
For GEO, this is just the beginning.
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The Wild Midwest: You’ve alluded to GEO becoming more than just album cover design in the near future. Where would you like to take your powers as a designer?
GEO: I've always done more than album covers, the recognition from the album packaging has put me in a good space, especially my own space where people draw information and inspiration from them. In my studio with my crew (Apostle, Kwame, Samuel, Ace, Wize, Jeremy, Mike, Shadez) we have been working on sound presentations, short movies, clothing, apps and the rest of it. I will be taking my power and the knowledge I've learnt over the years and applying that same aesthetic across the board.
WMW: How would you describe your design philosophy?
GEO: From the mind to paper to digital canvas. I normally have an end goal and work backwards; I feel it gives me more scope on what I want to create. Still I don't give a fuck about what people think, I do what I want, that’s the beauty of the process. To mix that seriousness with a fuck you vibe, it works.
WMW: Dieter Rams says that good design makes a product understandable. How important is increasing the level of understanding in the consumer for album cover design?
GEO: It's important to increase the level of understanding on everything. I always say, this is visual communication, people often forget the communication part. It's so easy for a kid to get hold of Adobe and title themselves with no formal eduction, because it's exactly what I did. But with that comes a break in the water for longevity and it shows when you don't push your knowledge beyond what is needed.
WMW: You recently got back from a trip to Japan, is travel a part of your design process?
GEO: Japan, what an amazing place. I have never been to the Far East so it was an eye opener for me. The fashion out there is flawless, I think I was the worse dressed (haha). Yes, travel is important to refresh the mind, to almost extinguish yourself from being burnt out. In this digital age, we are very visual based, almost everyone is a small child, flicking through picture books. Everyone has a short attention span. So traveling, taking photos, and converting that into design is vital.
WMW: One of your collaborators, Samuel Ross, has a unique take on British street culture with the narrative behind his brand A-Cold-Wall, creating streetwear that’s rooted in the story of the British working class. Though you’re not a streetwear brand, it made me curious, what is GEO’s narrative? What stories are you hoping to tell with your designs? Is there a people or place you want to represent?
GEO: Samuel Ross, the homie. ACW, is not to be overlooked. I had seen the process and walked in his mind to the narrative behind the brand. As a crew we all inspire each other and help each other, at this point we can't lose. Like Samuel, my narrative is stemming from British culture, mixing in my travels from around the world. My next ventures will show this narrative clearly. When it comes, it comes. The visuals are strong.
WMW: In the past two years or so, you’ve been one of the visual players in rap’s answer to the post punk moment of Peter Saville’s Factory Records work. As a designer, how important is it to contribute to or create a cultural zeitgeist?
GEO: Damn. Thank you. Peter Saville is a god. Initially and to this day I didn't intend to create and form any sort of cultural zeitgeist. I saw earlier design and thought I could do better, I went on my mission to work with my idols, to form something better than the previous output and if some say I've done such, that's an honour. I rarely look back but I've done a few things and if it's helped move culture along, my mission is partly completed.
WMW: You’ve achieved a great deal of success and collaborated with a slew of great artists very early in your career, what were the most important stepping stones to getting where you are today?
GEO: Thank you. I feel like I'm still new, freshman. I was just locked in for years, I wouldn't go out, I'd just be creating night after night over and over again. Then in 2012 I joined a crew and my mentors showed me new ways to create. Priceless. I am thankful for where I am at right now. It being very early on in my career, I don't want my earlier work to be overlooked.