Scott Carthy

Grafik caught up with this recent Kingston graduate to hear more about hanging out with Sagmeister & Walsh in the Big Apple and making short films inspired by transatlantic stories.

How would you describe your practice?

I left university last summer, so I’m pretty unsure what I would call my practice right now. I studied graphic design, which is the area I’m interning in at the moment. That said I’ve only really started playing with film in the last year and feel it could be an area I become more involved in, so I’m jumping between the two. The film work I’m currently doing tends to be a pretty accurate account of the time I spend with the subjects. Over time I just construct into some sort of cohesive narrative. I wouldn’t call it documentary work as it’s not completely objective – that term’s thrown around too easily nowadays. I’m pretty much just hanging out with people with a camera in between us, and then presenting this experience back to people online.

What inspires you?

It’s a terrible answer but everything really. I think changing environments are important in changing the way I see things around me, and allow me to come back to where I’m based with a new pair of eyes. People have been the driving factor around a lot of my most recent work but I grab inspiration from everywhere. With regards to modern culture, it was a year ago when I started thinking to myself ‘imagine someone from 200 years ago could see this,’ whether that's an aspect of human nature which would not have been around then, a sport, a situation, anything really. It was just this little thing which made me see things and appreciate them differently. Like twerking, imagine people from 200 years ago just saw how casually everyone’s twerking now, they’d just crumble with what they were seeing, but it’s normal to us now! But on a serious level, it takes something like that to help me step out of our reality and see how fast and drastically things have changed. I also get from some of the great documentary and reportage photographers of the past, who have allowed me to see the power of recording something for future generations.

Your work has recently focused on street dance culture in New York, what initially drew you in to wanting to explore this world?

My maternal Grandad used to be a pilot. I remember her telling me how when he first started flying transatlantic to New York, he would arrive back in the airport in Dublin after a trip with a box of pizza from New York, a part of the world my Mum had never even seen, only heard about. Thinking about that idea and how little of the city people would have seen back then without media and internet is mindblowing. Similarly when my Mum started working for an airline she would come home, and tell me stories about the city. She told me about these dancers on the street who would just flip and flip and flip. They'd line six or so people up and jump over them. Had my mum not travelled there and told me these things, I would never had known about this crazy phenomenon. As an image in my head it was just mad. My next film is about this exact subculture of street performers. I can show this piece of New York to so many people who otherwise would never see it.

Since graduating you've been doing an internship with Sagmeister & Walsh, how has that been for you?

I’m coming into the final month of the internship now. It’s been great to explore the graphic design world in a professional sense, it’s completely different to the University environment you’re used to. It’s also been amazing to be in a studio that’s been so influential in the world of graphic design over the past decades. Stefan’s old notebooks are all well-organised and dated in the studio so it’s amazing to just sit down and look through the archives of where these incredible ideas were born, look up and think, ‘Fuck, he’s sat over there!’

What’s coming up in 2015 for you?

Nothing is really set in stone yet, I’m just going to see how it goes. I have a short film about breakdancers being released in March with Fact Magazine which I’m pretty excited about, and I have a few other film ideas which I’m going to push to get funded. Some friends and I have been developing an installation which we brought to our first festival last summer so we’re hoping to secure a few more this year.

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Scott Carthy, 2014