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My Inspirations: Radio

Radio is the name of the creative collaboration between Byron Meiring and Gert Schoeman, and they are the illustrators behind this season’s London Luxury edition of SHOP magazine. Radio’s super-stylish and innovative artwork has a vintage elegance to it, and has previously been commissioned by AMC for the Mad Men television series, the Economist and Esquire, among others. We speak to Gert about their influences, their home – Cape Town – and their creative processes.

When did you know you wanted to be an illustrator?
The day my mum caught me drawing on her bedroom mirror and walls with her lipstick and my crayons. I just always had this interest in visually interpreting my everyday experiences, thoughts and perceptions.

Where do you get your inspiration? Music, art, films, your friends?
I always read about artists who get their inspiration from dead autumn leaves or the three-hour opera they watched last night. For me, not so much. I get inspired by a lot of unpredictable things – sometimes by people, other times by being alone in the forest. I guess the trick for me is to stay curious and open to any form that inspiration may come in and keep a notebook handy.

Which materials do you prefer to work with and why?
Only recently we’ve gone back to basics and invested some real effort into sketching and drawing, as our style progression asked for this, before we finish off our work in Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop. My personal favourite tools are a cheap, 0.5mm clutch pencil and a dot-grid sketch-book, but I have an old ‘space case’ with a bunch of old drawing tools I used in school – like stencils, rulers, compasses and other objects – that do come in very handy sometimes.

Where you live? Do you think your location has influenced your style?
We live at the foot of Table Mountain in Cape Town – sunny by summer, very windy by winter. It’s a tourist magnet, with a very diverse African nature; there is a colourful variety of lifestyles which meet here and it is hard not to get influenced by it. It is such a lively neighbourhood – but not too overwhelming, like a lot of other cities I’ve been to; it’s well balanced. Oh, and we have some of the best baristas in the world.

You recently illustrated the cover for the London Luxury edition of SHOP magazine. Do you have any good memories of travelling there?
I would say we are familiar with the streets of London, as this is where I met Byron, mybusiness associate, and where we worked together for another illustration studio. A year later we were both back in South Africa and started Radio. We were recently in London, to visit some clients and friends.

Where did you start when designing the cover for SHOP magazine’s London Luxury edition? How did you arrive at the final illustration?
For this cover illustration we drew a lot of inspiration from 1950s and 1960s advertising and illustration. I would say that the television series Mad Men was probably the main influence here, as we did a series of posters for this series in a similar style. So we sat down and watched a couple of episodes of Mad Men first. Then our colleague Stephan started to draw ideas and thoughts on a piece of paper, then we started shedding and sifting and adding until we got exactly what was needed. We took this to a more conservative, dot-grid book and sketched out some layout options. Then we go through the shed-and-sift-and-add process again and again, if needed.

Did it turn out as you expected?
We had a clear idea as to which direction we needed to head for this cover, but, as we went with the process, it changed. So, I don’t think our expectations were met, but I like it sometimes when the project just heads in another direction, when you start to explore the possibilities. The challenge was to get across as much of the feeling and idea of Savile Row, its fashion and physical surroundings, without cluttering the illustration.

What should SHOP readers not miss when they visit Cape Town?
I would definitely recommend any visitor to Cape Town to get to the Woodstock Exchange and the Old Biscuit Mill – these are revamped industrial buildings in Albert Road, just down the road from each other and they are stacked with independent design boutiques, shops and restaurants. For the more mainstream shopper, the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront is a perfect, high-end-brand shopping mall.

Which five items will you never travel without?
Bible, iPhone, notebook, pen, gum.

And finally, what would be your dream commission?
I love typography, so any typographic brief gets my attention.


Want to know more about SHOP magazine's cover art? Click here



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