Words Kazeem Kuteyi, Photography Wize
As I’m writing this, I’m switching in between windows on my laptop, watching tweets pop up on timeline and at this time it’s mostly commentary about the recent twitter update. Instead of favouriting a tweet, you can now like a tweet just like Facebook and Instagram. Geo has also tweeted a few of his opinions on it, “who comes up with these things, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” just like he does on a variety of topics. And not that he’s forcing you to agree with what he’s saying but I think his resume might. Geo’s has worked for Donda, Kanye West’s design agency where he worked on album covers, the Yeezus tour merch and a host of other projects. He also runs his own company; it’s described as “a multidisciplinary international media house”. In other words, it’s a company that basically makes cool shit. For example, take a look at his interactive website that’s playing his latest mix.
We had our first conversation with Geo awhile back in London in a coffee shop close to Oxford Street. I remember Kahlil and Nef running late because of the London tube problems and I had breakfast with a friend before we met with him. We talked about his design influences where we spoke about design, his influences, travel and what makes him tick. But since then, his perspectives had changed making our past conversation obsolete. I decided to ask him to shed some light of some of his tweets alongside some questions over a Skype call towards the end of summer.
First of all, the fashion that you’re gonna get into – I’m curious to know what’s going on with that.
Yeah, I mean it’s been in the works for a few years. Going back and forth, working with people and the projects I’ve done has given me an insight into how to do certain things. It comes at a time where things have formed naturally. It comes at a time where I feel I can do something culturally relevant. I’m trying to stay away from the normal, sort of “oh, he bought a t-shirt and he slapped a print on it”. We’re making this shit from scratch, we’re making the t-shirts, and we’re doing these things to make sure it’s at a higher standard.
When is it coming?
Well, most likely next year, I was aiming for this year but it’s so much work. You can’t rush these things.
Going onto your tweets, you have a tweet here, “be more impulsive”- what do you mean by that?
I say ‘be more impulsive’ in the sense of just fucking do what you have to do. Whatever’s on your mind – just plan, execute and put it out there. Too many people get bogged down by, “oh I have an idea” and not doing it. Then they seeing someone else do it and succeed and they’re like, “oh that was my idea”- which makes me want to say “okay so, why didn’t you do it in the first place?”
“Everything expires within a time period so if you make something and you come back to it in a few months, you might not want to use it anymore because you have new ideas.”
Why do you think people are afraid to ‘be more impulsive’?
It’s just embedded in human nature to be scared of the unknown. Once you break that barrier, you can do anything. Most of the people you see who are relevant from twenty years ago, and even new people, are not scared to be themselves. For instance, Lady Gaga – she doesn’t give a F about what people think about her.
“Working on so much at any one time, puts everything into perspective along side the disappointment of the current state of the scene.”
What I mean by that is, say for instance, I’ve got five to ten client projects and they all kind of want something similar. They don’t require new ideas so it’s a disappointment to be like “oh I’m working on so many projects” because they’re all very similar.
It’s funny because I seen your Vic Mensa work and your Tyga work. Vic Mensa was in Toronto and I couldn’t go but I seen people uploading images of the VIP cards and I’m like Oh, Geo did this shit and then I seen Tyga’s mixtape cover- and it’s so different. How do you get these new perspectives?
Again, it’s not giving a F and being more impulsive and making something that’s new and fresh but still resonates with the culture. It comes down to colour palettes and the way stuff is laid out. Larry Bell inspired that Tyga mixtape cover. He creates a lot with reflections and glass and since Tyga is very money oriented, the print of his face was in a hundred dollar bill in its raw format. I’m trying to merge different elements and see what works.
“Ok, everybody meet Mr. Me Too”
Oh yeah, that’s from the song by Pharrell and the Clipse, ’Mr. Me too’. Yeah, you go to an event someone says, what do you do? “Oh, I’m a graphic designer”, and the next person is like, “Oh, me too!” And my own little twist on a cliché statement is meet Mr Not You because I’m not like everyone else.
“Ideas have expiration dates”
100 percent. Let’s use the clothing thing as an example. You have an idea and it could take long to produce, source the materials, find the people to do it and once you finally got it – one: you don’t even like it, two: people don’t like it or it’s already been done. Everything expires within a time period so if you make something and you come back to it in a few months, you might not want to use it anymore because you have new ideas.
“We need more people that create but not for the ego”
Yeah, that’s also background for “Mr Me too”. Everyone’s doing everything to impress everyone and people are doing minimal things with maximum applaud. People make stuff for their ego and are ready to chitchat about a small accomplishment, which isn’t much these days.
And I’m curious to know how people collaborate in London. Here in Toronto, I’ve witnessed people who want to come together and want to do projects but when it’s time to work, they disappear.
There are different types of people. There are people who do it for the love of what they do and there are people who do it strictly for the cheque. It really does depend. I’ve come across people who don’t really wanna help. With me, I’d rather just say fuck it, learn and do it myself. And sometimes people wanna overcharge you because of the people you’ve worked with or worked for. I come from the streets, I know how to hustle and I understand these small elements of “oh let’s overcharge this dude because he’s done work for so and so, he must have cash to blow”. Sometimes you gotta put that cheque aside for a second and look at what is created.
“The issue is, without formal education in the area, these corporate companies don’t wanna give us a chance”
There are different types of corporations. You have the ones that are culturally relevant and wanna stay in that flow – they don’t care about any type of formal education. I’m talking Beats by Dre and Adidas. If you want to take on corporate work and actually get paid good money, they want to see some sort of document that states that this is what you have and this is what you can do. Sometimes you might get the corporate stuff without formal education but I feel like a lot of walls are being put up. When you work with these cultural influencers, you working with them as opposed to corporations where you’re working for them.
“Thinking outside the box is such an inside the box thing to say”
I’ve had that saying for a few years now. It just came to me when everyone saying think outside the box, think outside the box. Everyone’s inside the box. You’re in the box and you can’t get out. You need to open your mind to new things. Fuck the box.
“Everything needs to be natural or fucking forget it”
Yeah, too many people do too many forced projects. It just needs to be naturally formed. I need to have a feeling before I do something.
The worst thing that can ever happen to your product is for it to become a hypebeast-commercialized product.
To prevent it is to give it a higher price point; it’s to have it exclusive and limited. To keep it off of that hypebeast market is to do those sorts of things. In hindsight, it might stop you from making more money or getting your product out but you still keep your branding intact. Look at supreme – supreme limited drops are enough for most people but you still get a lot of people who can’t get a hold it which is good thing. It keeps everything balanced. Imagine everyone wearing Yeezy Boosts – how boring would that be.
“People are so impressed by the smallest of things, up the levels man.”
Let’s take it further. Small things….a small wave in a big ocean. Let’s take it further than is asked for. Across the board.
What contributes to your evolving taste?
My taste level sort of goes up every month. I’m surrounded by too many nice things. It’s also having a clear outlook on life and friends. I think taste just evolves by knowing yourself, knowing your worth, travelling and being isolated in place where you have nothing like no Wi-Fi.
“Perception is perception”
It’s just the amount of people I’ve met through social media that are not the same in real life. People who live and breathe social media but they can’t have a conversation in real life. You can be perceived as one thing and be someone totally different.
“Yeah, too many people do too many forced projects. It just needs to be naturally formed. I need to have a feeling before I do something.”
Yeah and I feel that’s the problem with a lot of people or kids that I meet. You know they’re like so and so have these amount of followers and I’m like yo, I met the same person- that person isn’t popping like you think- that person has followers maybe because of that, that, and that – don’t base your life decisions on what you think that person does.
I mean I wouldn’t even mind if I didn’t have any followers. I actually encourage people to unfollow me because a lot of people just sit there and look at what I do. They don’t even like or comment on the stuff and that’s cool. But when I’ve got like four to five thousand followers and I get two hundred likes – what does that say? I’d rather you unfollow me. I’d rather have ten meaningful people follow me. At the end of the day, it’s not about the amount of people but who.
“I take my time; I work on me – no time limit for my greatness”
It’s pretty self-explanatory – do you until you feel it’s right. For years, I was caught up doing work for other people which is cool- I learnt so much and that’s how I built the capital to move around and have money. At the same time, you’ve got to fall back; this year, I fell back on a lot of projects whether be it on Donda or something else. I felt like I had to work on me because at the end of the day, shit don’t last forever.
Like, yeah, when you told me things have changed I kinda felt it. I feel things are more Geo branded.
Yeah. I’m about to take it to a new level – album covers and mixtape covers are cool but they’re boring to me. That’s just another Gucci belt – we can have all those belts all day but that stuff keeps me relevant while I’m working on my other projects. Come the new stuff, the new mixes for the music these are all experiences – all these things have to be well thought out, they’re things you can look at and replay – it’s not a scrolling moment.
What’s your general opinion on culture today?
It’s good where it’s at but it could be better. There are too many people who are clones. That said there are a lot of good points like, the cross over and merge of UK culture with the rest of the world, more black creatives, and everything else in-between.