Jake Tilson Studio textsbiographicalbibliography
how is vernacular material re-contextulaized by appropriation?

From a Name magazine questionaire.

A few notes on the questions you asked....


 If I were a novelist this question would seem irrelevant.

2. ART

Being an artist this question is also irrelevant.

Certain artists consider wholesale appropriation of another artists' ideas as an original idea in itself. The lazy theft approach. I do love the work of Richard Prince whose "re-photographs" are haunting reflections rather than dumb theft. What I like about Richard Princes' work is the broadening of vernacular boundaries. Art that is only referential to extisting art is doomed. An art that refers to a broader visual culture is likely to encompass vernacular material. For an artist the re-contextualising of the found object leads to a pure form. For a graphic designer this is not always the case. If the Richard Prince photographs were trying to sell cigarettes they would lose their power.  People are talking about the blurring of art and graphic design as both camps plunder and steal ways of working from each other. In the end the actual objects that artists and designers produce are miles apart and fundamentally different.


As an artist/designer my work accesses a broad visual culture, or at least the facture of it. My design-work is content-led and so any use of vernacular is incorporated for another purpose beyond its' "look".


In arabic there are twenty nouns for the word "Lion". There are 200 cars on my street. We have names for all of them.  The result of appropriating an image is to give it another name. Shifting its' meaning. Designing or creating in such a way is a form of shifting language, applying codes. Codes of transmission and reception.

 Through the act of appropriation do you come to own or claim to own the images you use?

How can I claim to own anything that I use? This is being written on a programme from Microsoft on a machine made by Apple sitting on a chair designed by Eames. The font was designed by Linn Boyd Benton and Morris Fuller Benton - and on and on (to quote an advert).

Can design be the property of the creator?

yes, in-as-much as anything we perceive to "own" is actually ours. A collector of rare books in Montparnasse showed me his collection of first-editions. These varied publications all had new bindings, some quite bizarre, commissioned by the collector. He was aware that his "ownership" of these books was a fleeting moment in the books' long life from tree to dust. He wanted his ownership of these books to be noticed by future owners of these same books. Its an Ex-Libris taken to an extreme. For me, these books resembled a grotesque plastic surgery, losing any of the subtle traces of a previous owner.

London - 1996