The ‘i-men’ cometh

21st November 2008 by Denise

One of the best things about working for MOO is that we’re lucky enough to have incredibly creative customers. If we’re ever stuck for inspiration all we need to do is look at the beautiful cards whizzing by in the warehouse, or the amazing store of photographs in the MOO Flickr pool.

We’ve seen designers and photographers, crafters, makers and bakers all printing with MOO – but until now, we’d never seen a StickerBook of images quite like this:

or this:

or even this:

These are the ‘i-men’, created by the London-based designer, Gareth White. There’s a whole army of them, ranging from the slightly cute, to the oddly creepy.

After far too long spent wondering how these were made, I decided to get in touch with Gareth myself, and ask. He was kind enough to answer and this is what he said:

Gareth, how long have you been creating the ‘i-men’?

Oh that’s easy – exactly 3 years this month. I have hundreds of the critters, I only post the best of the beast, but there are loads more in the reserves.

There’s so many – do you make one every day?

Not every day because it’s so physically demanding, but I think about them most days. They form an orderly mental queue and then I have a flurry of creation. It’s a little bit like getting Gizmo wet.

So, what got you started?

When Apple launched the imac with the intergrated isight and photobooth. That day my mind split horizontally, it was like the big-bang. That is day zero for the ‘i-men’.

They all look so complex – what was the most difficult one to do?

I don’t have one beast in particular that was especially the most difficult, but the less elements I use the harder they are to create. All the best things are the most refined and simple – even beasts.

How do you decide what to use in the creation – or do you just use whatever is to hand?

Oh, well initially I just got whatever was close to hand, and to a certain extent that is still the case – but I have started seeing objects differently. For example, I’ll see a roll of gaffer tape and think ‘what a great pair of eyes that will make’ or something else hanging around and think ‘I’ll use that for a big long tongue!’

How do you actually do it? Don’t you need more than one pair of hands?

Well obviously they’re all mirror images. Some of the men may look pretty crazy – and I do get a little bit contortionist nowadays – but really it’s pretty simple to get going and start making wild creatures. After a while you get to know certain tricks – like holding objects at the correct angle will make your fingers into a mouth or nose. However, I think the eyes should always be an inanimate object, that’s where the beast’s soul is.

Have you got any photos of you actually making an ‘i-man’? I want to see!

Ha – it’s funny you should ask that – here’s some from the old days:

You can check the flickr set to see the results.

What was your inspiration? Where do your ideas come from?

I am genuinely inspired by not knowing what is going to come out of a session. I get so excited when the perfect monster arrives. It’s the same feeling I get when I walk through the doors of a jumble sale. You never know what’s inside.

How much can you plan your images? For each perfect picture, have you got loads that are just a bit off?

That’s just it – I have no idea initially. They evolve during a session and you can see that from my set on flickr – they are grouped inadvertingly by the materials and light that were to hand at the time.

So, Frankenstein by night… What’s your day job?

I am co-creative director of New Future Graphic. It’s okay though, everyone is well aware of this thing.

Gareth – you’re awesome!


So – anyone else fancy making one? It’s the weekend, c’mon, what else are you going to do?

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