Not Dead or Famous enough, Yet. DM chat with DR.ME talking about their 10th anniversary book.
We had a great DM session with the Manchester based duo, DR.ME (Ryan Doyle and Mark Edwards) to discuss about their recently released book compiling 84% (as they scientifically stated) of the work they’ve done during the last 10 years working as creative partners.
TWS: Welcome to the first Weird Show chat interview! I’m really glad to have you guys! How are you doing? How do you feel after launching your 10Y anniversary book?
DR: Great, yeah. I think we are both pleasantly surprised with how well it has been received. It was very scary putting that much information about ourselves out into the world. But it’s amazing seeing it appear all over the world and people really digging it.
ME: Yeah, all good. The sun is shining and it feels like spring is on its way! The book is selling steadily around the world, which is really cool to see.
TWS: What feedback have you got so far? Anything that has surprised you?
ME: Haha… Well. I was Skyping with my parents, who live in Bristol (about 3 hours away from Manchester), and got the *live* reaction from them as their book arrived while we were on the call so I got to see them open it and their first reaction, which was a pretty wild ride. My mum’s an artist and went straight into critique mode.
TWS: What did she say?
ME: It was terrifying! haha but the only negative was that the type was a little on the small side. But I’m going to put that down to her being 72. This aside, she loves it.
DR: I think the general feedback is: people love the mirror cover, and that it’s amazing to see a real timeline of DR.ME, from start to where we are now.
TWS: Both things are really amazing, indeed. I agree with both.I loved the book’s tittle, too… Please, tell me something about why choosing “Not Dead or Famous Enough, Yet” as title.
ME: Waaayyyyyy back, when we were creating our project 365 days of collage, we approached Thames & Hudson to see if they would be interested publishing it as a monograph. And Andrew Sanigar, who would later go on to be our editor for our compendium book ‘Cut That Out’, told us that we weren’t dead or famous enough to have a monograph. So we thought that this would be an apt name for our first monograph 🙂
DR: We had a few names in mind which referenced collage more. I think “Under the knives” was probably the second favorite. But our whole body of work isn’t just collage, so we wanted something a bit more global. And I think we were both into having quite a long name.
ME: My friend @vicky__car, who teaches at the university of Salford recently told me that the students there have lots of different ways of pronouncing the books’ acronym ‘NDOFEY’. Which I love, cos, well it’s not a word, so all answers are correct.
TWS: Never thought of using an acronym for the book’s title!
ME: I think it probably comes from initially when we were naming files for the book, the name was just too long
TWS: I feel also the title encapsules a lot of your attitude towards your work. Defying, fun, witty…
ME: That’s nice to hear that it comes across this way!
TWS: And what about the process of making the book?
There’s so much stuff there (images, texts, interviews, memories, collages, pictures, etc) that I can imagine that it must have been an intense experience for you both… How was the process of making NDOFEY?
DR:Yeah, it probably took about a year all together of back and forth talking about what the physical object of the book would look like. It changed a few times, it was actually going to be square initially. And it took about 4/5 months of going into hard-drives, emails, messages, drawers, under beds to gather everything together. The years from 2010 – 2012 were most difficult to get together haha. And the actual process of designing probably took about 2 months or the entirety of the first UK lockdown. It was a long process for sure. Trying to curate 10 years of work into 600 pages took its time
TWS: Was anything left out? Or is it pretty much all your work?
ME: yeah, loads got cut.
DR: Quite a lot of things that we cut out. Mostly posters or smaller record covers, or early work that we just couldn’t find. Or work that looking back at was actually shit… haha. I don’t think there was anything that we couldn’t find though off the top of my head. But the book definitely represents 85% of our output from last 10 years.
ME: Maybe 84%. Ry had to solder an old hard drive back together. But we found everything in the end.
TWS: I thought, from your FIN? zines that include all your rejected and unpublished work, that you’d try to have ALL in this 10Y compendium… But I see that you are VERY productive and you have tons of work.
DR: This is the work that we are most proud of from the last 10 years. And anything that’s missing wouldn’t really add anything to it.
TWS: what about the crowdsourcing campaign you made? How was the experience of doing it? And how do you feel it worked for your purposes?
ME: It was good, yeah. Certainly quite stressful before hand, but once is got rolling it was just very exciting to see people start backing it. Starting with lots of friends and then peers and then people we’ve never met from all over the world. It was nice to have fun with it as well… like running the 24 hours of collage which was a trip!
DR: I think because we were self funding the book. it also gave us a good insight to see if people were actually interested before we spent all our money on printing a book that no one wants. So from that point of view, it was great to gauge the appetite for it. And lucky for us, people were interested!
But, yes, it was very stressful because if we made just £1 under our target, we would not had any of funding at all.
TWS. I can Imagine the stress!!! But crowdfunding seems like a smart move. TWS 10th anniversary this year too and I’ve been wanting to make a book about it and your model was definitely an inspiration. But I’m not sure I’ll have the inner strength to go through all that process. Any advices to give me?
ME: A TWS book would be great, you should defo do that!
Like Ry said it’s a great way to go for gauging how many people are interested. So I’d say start off talking to your printer and get a few different models priced up for say 500, 1,000, 1500, 2000 etc. Then work out rewards that aren’t going to bankrupt you to ship to the other side of the world. We also had a calendar of activities throughout the Kickstarter to keep things interesting, both for the audience and for us so we didn’t lose pace with it.
DR: We sort of “stole” the idea from Zinetent, a small publisher in Manchester who published a collection of Simpsons collages by us. He did a crowdfunding campaign for the same reasons we did, to see how many people were interested. Because if you don’t hot your target (which I’m sure you would) then maybe shouldn’t go into production or print as many copies.
ME: One thing that’s worth keeping in mind with Kickstarter is that they hit you for 10% of what you make. Guess that’s why it’s a successful business for so long.
TWS: So, going back to the book. I have to say that, of course, I haven’t finished reading it all, and still need to digest a huge amount of the information…
But my feeling is that each time I open it in any moment, I find something that I like, a frase that makes me smile or small details that are great
DR: That’s exactly what we wanted!
TWS: Today I opened it randomly and found a guy asking you : “Collage is bullshit, prove me wrong”. It’s Genius.
ME: Yeah, that’s lovely to hear. We wanted it to be something for people that are starting out through, to people who are seasoned pros like yourself.
DR: Hahah, Yeah James from INTL. I think he genuinely meant it. He’s a great designer, but maybe not so much into collage.
TWS: And this feeling made me think of your book as a giant meta-collage. A collage made with little bits of your life and career
TWS: How do you feel about this? Is this bullshit too?
DR: No, I think the main objective for the book was shared knowledge. Always been a big fan of “Sharing is caring” attitude. That’s why we did FIN? and 365 days of collage in a way. We are blessed to be able to carve a career from art. That does sound bullshit! But it’s what we love and makes us want to wake up in the morning.
So, if only one person was to pick up our book and feel inspired or it brings a smile to they’re face or brightens up there day, I think it was successful.
TWS: And the idea of the book being some sort of meta-collage? Have you thought about it that way?
DR: The phrase meta-collage no, that’s genius. But definitely we were aware we were sort of making the ultimate DR.ME collage. Just the definition of collage – taking things and placing together to make a new. That was literally the process of making the book
TWS: I loved the text written by writer Emily Gosling. She talks about DR.ME’s “universe”… After 10 years, how would you describe this universe?
ME: It’s vast. hahaha. And ever evolving, constantly expanding as we both learn more.
DR: Yeah, it’s hard to think what defines our universe. But I think our work has always had a underlying feeling of humour or escapism. So maybe people relate with that…
ME: Yeah, to go with the universe metaphor, I guess humour and escapism, like Ry says, are the ‘rules’ of the universe, a bit like gravity on earth. It kind of informs and instructs what we do.
DR: And we have always tried to operate within the same visual universe, rather than hoping between galaxies…
ME: Then, there are stars that the work kind of orbits. Like collage, graphic design, music.
TWS: that’s a really cosmic vision of your work! Going through your projects, I’ve remembered that you worked for Mick Jagger. Anything cool you recall about that project (I had been a Rolling Stones fan during my teens!)?
DR: Awww, yeah! That was a wild one. I think the coolest thing was that during the whole project we never spoke to Mr Mick Jagger at all. But he was signing off the artwork then, at the very very very last stage, we were looped into an email thread where he was CC’ed and if you scrolled far enough he said: “that’s cool”.
TWS: that’s REALLY cool!
DR: But, yeah, that was a crazy project. I think that’s the first time my dad really appreciated what I do.
TWS: It takes Mick Jagger to say you’re cool for your parents realise you’re cool. That’s how hard life gets these days!
DR: hahaha, totally!
TWS: What’s the masterplan for the next 10 years of DR.ME?
ME: Same same but different!
TWS: sounds a solid plan.
ME: We talked about this a little just before Christmas, and we both like the direction everything is heading. But just want to do more of the things we love, like publishing our own books and zines, making apparel and getting to travel to amazing places.
DR: It’s a tough one, because we don’t just want to repeat the last 10 years, but I think just to get better at our craft. It’s interesting having the book now. To look back on it feels like a sort of ripping it up and start again moment.
We sort of played with the idea of the book being a tombstone at one point. But thought might feel too much like we were saying it was the end of DR.ME, when it was actually the end of the first 10 years.
ME: I think at some point we had 2010 — 2020, and it instantly looked like we’d died.
DR: But if you asked me 10 years ago what’s the plan for DR.ME in the next 10 years, I would had no idea or expected to work on half the stuff we did or get to travel as much as we did.
So just ready for the ride. So, yeah, same same but different!
ME: Yeah, certainly couldn’t have guessed at the weird and wonderful things we’ve had the pleasure of doing over the years.
ME: Got to say actually, as we’re here: thanks so much for having us in the Weird Show exhibition in London (2018), that you curated with James Springall. That led to so many different exhibitions in so many different countries that year!
TWS: Thanks, guys! Got to say that it was JS’s merit, because he introduced me to your work. And got to say that among all the weird and uncool things that happened in that show, getting to know you is among the great and positive things that I kept 🙂
Finally: Please tell the unfortunate people who haven’t bought your book yet, why they should buy it right now?
ME: Because Ryan has a new baby boy, and he will starve if they don’t! (joking!)
DR: It’s a book for everyone. if you love collage, buy the book. if you love design, buy the book. if you’re interested to know about the weird and wonderful sub culture of Manchester, buy the book. It’s not just a picture book
ME: Oh, and we’ve sold about 60%. So buy now or forever regret!
TWS: Prepare your remaining stock! They’ll fly in a matter of minutes!