Ra Bear is the brainchild of Adam Griffiths; Designer and Graphic Artist. So why Ra Bear? Adam says the name came from an action figure he had as a child which he can only describe as an amalgamation of a grizzly bear and an ancient pharaoh. There is no deep conceptual meaning behind it according to Mr Ra Bear himself but throughout his work he is always interested in combining disparate elements and contrasting relationships so maybe it was a subconscious decision, who knows?

Adam has been working under the name Ra Bear for about 3 years work. The brand’s works have previously involved a varied balance of exciting, ambitious and forward thinking clients including Sony, Space & Time Records and a thriving array of cultural venues and individuals across Manchester and beyond.

Ra Bear

A little interview with Ra Bear:

What personal experiences led you to design as a career path?

I think skateboarding put me onto the design path. There’s always been a big link between a piece of wood with 4 wheels and the visual arts, whether it be through the graphics, magazines, videos or the overall culture in general. A Lot of the artists/designers that inspired me early on were skateboarders themselves like Ed Templeton or Mike Mills.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m currently working with a number of exciting and more importantly brave, open minded “clients”. First of which is Last Japan, I’ve been working on artwork for his forthcoming e.p ‘Darsk’ released through Sony. There’s been a lot of experimentation and twists and turns to get where we wanted to which has been an intriguing work process. The work suggests the idea of the unknown, of what’s behind the curtain and trying to peel away the fabricated layers we find ourselves burdened with in our day to day, twitter-mania lives.

Secondly, I’ve been working with London electro/pop 3 piece Strangers, embarking on an ambitious project with them to release 1 single each month till the end of the year. This has meant a steady monthly flow of fresh artwork and ideas which has been a busy but fulfilling way of working for all of us I think.

Finally I’ve just started working on a new music video for Manchester’s own G R E A T W A V E S for the track ‘You’ off their forthcoming e.p via Bella Union Records. The video is a collaboration between myself and filmmaker Liam Healy in which we embark on a journey through surreal landscapes and the rebirth of a new world. Myself and Liam have been collaborating on a number of multimedia projects recently, combining graphic art and video and bringing them to life through 3D mapping projections in gallery spaces around Manchester.

Who in the creative industry inspires you and what currently influences your work?

I think anyone who’s brave enough to push the envelope immediately gathers my attention. In todays industry I guess it’s creatives and studios like HORT, Justin Blyth and Radical Friend who really stand out to me and show that you can work creatively for larger clients and still be progressive in your ideas without selling your soul to the dark side and getting kicked in the face as a receipt.

How has studying Graphic Design at Manchester School of Art helped you on your journey?

The course really steered me into realising what I wanted to achieve and gave me the breathing space to do it. What did you do after graduation?I carried on working. Whether it was for freelance commissions or personal projects I found it was vital to keep on grafting away than fall into that trap of taking a few weeks holiday which turns into a year which turns into full time employment as something that you didn’t want to do then tell everyone about how much you hate doing it.

Ra Bear

Do you have any upcoming exhibitions? If so please tell.

I’m currently in the midst of planning a new show with Not Now which will be launching in September sometime at Joshua Brooks in Manchester.

What advice can you give to anyone who wants to get into Graphic Design or anyone who wants to start their own creative business?

Take your vitamins.

You are one fifth of the Design Studio, Not Now. How did the designers of Not Now come together? Who are Not Now?

NN is a Manchester based, award winning creative studio set up by myself and 4 other designers around 2 years ago. We met while on the design course and worked alot together on university projects and from there we just wanted to take things into our own hands and set up camp in a new studio in the centre of Manchester. We see Not Now almost as a lab or playground, experimenting and playing, with no rules or regulations and constantly evolving and adapting. A mutual group ethic that ran from the very beginning was that we plainly didn’t want to be just another 9 to 5 design studio. With that sort of mentality and creative freedom it enabled us to go from working on commercial projects with brands like JD Sports and Blacks Outdoors to highly experimental and explorative projects as last year’s ‘Means to an End’ in which we set fire to all our sketchbooks and created new “prints” with the ashes. Not Now acts almost as a free creative outlet to us, never knowing where we will go next or what might spark out of a 20 minute discussion in the studio.

Head on over to Ra Bear to see what Adam is working on and also make sure you check out the shop here!

Ra Bear

  AUTHOR  

Gemma Louise Kimpton

Gemma Louise Kimpton

Founder, A Place for Creation

Founder of A Place for Creation & Creator of 'My Creative Business Planner' + designer of awesome websites for creative businesses.

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