You probably won’t recognise his name but if you’ve walked around the city centre over the past five years, chances are you’ll have noticed his handiwork. As the talent behind the darkly humorous and twisted designs for Circus, his creations can be found on hoardings and flyers throughout Liverpool. His surreal, cut’n’paste aesthetic and vivid, punchy graphics are bold, direct and instantly identifiable – the mark of any top drawer graphic designer.

The artwork’s signature style quickly became synonymous with the club night promoters and, thanks to their public support, the graphic wonderkid responsible for it all, Russell Reid, decided to go one step further and turn his hobby into one of the most in-demand brands around town.

Since setting up clothing company Wasted Heroes in 2009, Russell has built up a steady fanbase, with his designs being sported by club kids and hipsters as well as gaining notoriety amongst those behind the turntables with Yousef, Anton Powers, Lonsdale Boys Club and Klubfiller all fans of the look, eagerly snapping up his latest lines.

We love a local success story so we caught up with Russell to ask him all about his experiences working with Circus, why he decided to move from print into clothing and exactly where does he get his influences for those unusual designs…

Circus has been running for nearly 9 years this September, how did you get involved with designing for them?

I’ve been designing the Circus flyers since 2005 and it all came about by chance. I was a regular at Circus and Chibuku in my student days and then became involved with the clubby running their guest list on a Saturday night. At the end of my first night I was talking to promoters Rich and Yousef who mentioned they were looking for a new designer and if I was interested I could give it a go. I designed the first flyer and the rest is history!

The graphics you create are slightly more eye-catching than the usual club flyer. Where do you get your inspiration for your design work?

The brief for my first Circus flyer was that they didn’t want any images linked to the word circus such as tents or clowns and wanted the outcome to be twisted and surreal. It was quite an open brief and so I started experimenting with combining images of humans, animals and random objects until they looked twisted and often quite disturbing. This style of graphics can still been seen in the 2011 flyers and is what the clubs regulars expect from a Circus flyer.

What made you take the leap from working with Circus and designing their flyers tosetting up your own t-shirt company?

My background is graphic arts and I guess getting my designs on to t-shirts is something I’ve always want to do. I toyed about with the idea of setting up a t-shirt label for a few years and finally just decided to go for it, order all the equipment I needed to screen print and get things started. I love playing with inks and paints, so by doing everything myself in-house I can bereally hands on and experiment with imagery and printing techniques.

What’s the most rewarding part of running your own clothing label?

I love it when I see someone in the street wearing one of my t-shirts or I’m told that a DJ or band member has been seen wearing one at a gig. I never grow tired of printing a new t-shirt design and the sense of satisfaction when seeing the finished product for the first time.

Where do you see Wasted Heroes going in the future?

At the moment I only sell my products through the Wasted Heroes online store so over the next year I would like to see them available in a few shops. I know some people still get nervous when ordering clothes online and I would like it if they had a place to go and try them on before making their purchase. It’s taken a few years but I now feel Wasted Heroes has its own identity and I’m happy to regularly receive positive reviews in the graphic t-shirt community.

3 Responses to “Elegantly Wasted”

  1. onthefarm

    “[his] punchy graphics are bold, direct and instantly identifiable – the mark of any top drawer graphic designer”.

    Stephanie, bold, direct and instantly identifiable might indeed be good for t-shirt design. I would question whether they are how you know if a graphic designer is good. You seem to suggest that there is not way more to design than bold, direct and instantly identifiable, which there is.

  2. Hi OnTheFarm,

    The graphics I’m referring to are the ones on the Circus promotional material; Russ has done a great job of creating a consistent yet unusual series of designs for them which ARE bold, direct and instantly identifiable. This fits in perfectly with the ethos of the club and a lesser designer may not have captured this.

    As this is a profile piece on a local talent, rather than me decreeing what all design should entail, I do wonder why you’ve taken one fragment out of a sentence and commented in such a negative fashion? Nay-saying is SO last season.

  3. There’s no need to reverse engineer that statement. . It’s perfectly fair to say a top drawer graphic designer, working in the medium we’re specifically talking about, can be measured by his stand-out style.

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