Wonderland speaks to the Stone and Spear founder about how he made the jump from graphic design graduate to working for Givenchy.

Simon Cook, Stone and Spear designer (Image: Nicolo)

25-year-old illustrator and designer Simon Cook didn’t just want to graduate from university with a First – nope, the enterprising lad decided he wanted to set up a label from his student digs. Cue the creation of Stone and Spear, which has since been nominated for Best Creative Brand at the British Young Business Awards and caught the eye of brands like Givenchy and Sang Bleu, with whom he’s worked with on creative projects.

Tell us a little bit about your creative CV.

I come mainly from a Fine Art background. I decided to study Graphic Design, purely as I never wanted to be pigeon holed and labeled as one thing. This allowed me to merge a whole bunch of different techniques and skills to properly create my aesthetic. Soon after I graduated, I moved to London and just started to do my own thing. After working freelance on bits for i-D, having my first solo show in London and doing editorial illustration for Design Week and Wired, I was asked to move to Paris – which saw my first step into fashion at Givenchy. That was an amazing experience.

What was the original idea behind Stone & Spear it and what did you want to achieve?

The idea behind it was simple. I didn’t want to be just another graphic designer leaving uni, trying to get a job in a studio, you know. I really wanted to set up a something of my own – that actually meant something – hence creating Stone and Spear – the derived Greek meanings of my middle names, Peter and Frank.

What are the first stages of creating a piece of work? How does it go from an idea in your head to a finalised piece?

It normally starts with a loose concept inspired by memory or experience, then a thought about colour, which creates the mood, and then straight into experimentation. The worst part is putting too much pressure on yourself at the beginning. Things that are personal have flaws, they have vulnerabilities. That’s the best bit.

Stone and Spear brohamulous-web

Stone and Spear illustration

Your work seems almost fantasy-like. What do you think inspires you to use such bold shapes and bright colours?

I’m influenced by a lot of things but perhaps the sticking point is that my style references elements of both past and present popular culture – drawing on architecture, science and space, geometry and fantasy. Relating strongly to the Surrealism idea – exploring dreams, fears, the imagination, and the opposite of reality – fusing everything together is the key to creating this new world. The photographic elements within my work are what bring it to life, bridging the gap between our world and the world of Stone and Spear.

You’re not shy in collaborating with other creatives. Who have you been working with recently and if you could team up with anyone, who would be the dream team?

Collaboration really is the best. Seriously. I’ve worked with some great clients and collaborators like Novembre Magazine, Michael Mayren and Sang Bleu. It’s a great way to help evolve your work – both technically and aesthetically. I’d rather not mention a dream client because I don’t want to jinx it.

You’ve been nominated for Best Creative Brand at the British Young Business Awards. How did you celebrate when you heard of the nod?

It really came out of the blue. Very unexpected. It feels amazing to be have even been recognised but for Best Creative Brand, something I set up in my bedroom back at uni, genuinely feels pretty surreal.

You’ve relocated from London to work at a fashion house in Paris. How do the two cities compare and what do you miss most about London?

To be honest, they are so different. Daily life wise – I enjoy Paris. It’s easy, less stressful. UK is home though and I miss the people close to me. Things change though and the nicest part of working in this industry is having that freedom to move around.

What has been a career highlight thus far and what is there still left to achieve?

I’d have to say my move to Paris in 2011. That really put a new spin of everything and saw my style cross over into Fashion, something that was completely new to me. I’m in Paris full-time now and proper excited about what the future holds.

Stone and Spear illustration

Words: Shane Hawkins (Follow Shane on Twitter @piccadilly_boy)