Josie Tucker talks design, cat calls and floating eyeballs

Lover of all things crass and bright, Josie Tucker has been on the Brainchild team since day one. She has had a huge influence on the aesthetic of the festival; starting off by designing the original logo and posters in year one; illustrating live at events in year two; making giant installations and paintings in year three; and finally entirely re-branding the festival this year.

I’m currently living with Josie, and it’s been a privilege to watch her bring beauty and an alternative viewpoint to everything she does. Likewise, everything she creates is inexplicably ‘her’, from her hand drawn tattoos, to the digital collages and animations made for her Visual Communication MA at the RCA this year.

Meet the little lady conquering the design world, one ‘.ai’ file at a time…

Facial features for the tree at Brainchild 2015


What themes run through your work?

Humour and the abstract are really prominent in my work. Sometimes humour can even be involved in the process and the research for a very serious piece. It’s always a big factor. I love abstraction and pushing things to the limit of recognition whilst still being communicative.

Tell us about the ideas behind your branding for this years festival.

The branding for this year was based on our visual history as a festival. We’ve always been colourful, playful, and used themes from nature, however historically our ‘look’ has been very figurative with an emphasis on hand drawing. We wanted to maintain the hand drawn elements as we love them, however I’ve used them in a different way, alongside hand collage, bright colours, and more than anything trying to visualise what the festival actually feels like (which is obviously the happiest vibes ever!).

Various visual components designed for Brainchild’s social media posts


Who’s work inspires you?

I like stuff that’s ridiculous or that doesn’t really make much sense, which tends not to be artwork but just bits of stuff that I find or see around. I really love Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared, because I love the thought process and humour, but also the crazy attention to detail and hand craft is really amazing. I also love bigger budget work like Toiletpaper Magazine because it’s nice to see fine art and publishing/design mixing. Historically they’ve been very separate but I don’t think they should be.



You’re quite the bookworm – which books from your collection would you say are must reads for other designers?

I recently picked up a set of two books called Trade Marks and Symbols (1973) by Yasaburo Kuwayama – doesn’t sound riveting but its just pages of monochrome symbols and logos from an era when everything was hand drawn and slaved over by designers. Every page is beautiful! There’s also a Taschen book called Psychedelic Sex which looks at porn, mainly from independent publishers from the 60’s and 70’s. All the photographs are naturalistic and un-retouched, and the spreads are unbelievably creative – all hand collaged, and really artistic and psychedelic, which is something you never see now.

Illustration for Volt Magazine’s A-Z of festivals. This one’s B for ‘Brainchild’


Do you have any advice for other graduates on how to stay creative whilst earning a living?

It’s a really difficult one because no matter what you do there’s always going to be stuff that you don’t want to do. I think that there’s very little experience that is of no use. Even if you end up working as a photoshop monkey (or similar) for a little while, at least you’ve learnt that skill. Almost all of the time it’ll come back as a positive for yourself. (That’s my advice to myself after lots of photoshop monkeying, haha!)

What has been your most ambitious project to date?

My most ambitious project to date probably wouldn’t seem it to a lot of people, but for me it was a big leap in a totally new direction. I had under two weeks to make a moving image project, and as I am not massively confident with a film camera I decided to make a stop motion. I think I made just over 2,000 frames and a 1:30min animation with a soundtrack, which isn’t a lot but given the time and the complete lack of experience, I really felt I achieved something.

Tell us about some of your weirder pieces…

I recently made an animatic about Cat Calling on the street. I was walking home when a group of men started shouting the usual things, until (I was wearing a bright yellow fluffy jacket) one of them shouted – ‘YOU LOOK LIKE A CHICKEN!’ before they all started laughing hysterically. Most girls/women get cat called, which is obviously not a good thing, but I think the way to deal with it is to laugh about it. I wrote down the most memorable cat calls I had received, and decontextualized them to the point of word associated pictures and a robotised voice over. It’s pretty weird.

What were the best things you discovered at Brainchild 2015?

Tank and The Bangas were amazing, they were such a welcome relief from our hangovers and bought more energy than I even thought was possible. Emily Motto’s piece was awesome – it was totally her style but she allowed the collaboration of the visitors in order to complete it, which was a really nice touch. Pecs – made of some of Brainchild’s very own – were my favourite from the theatre tent – genuinely hilarious and touching at the same time to see women taking such strong ownership of male characters in a satirical but non-patronising way. It’s really stayed with me! Also Maria Ferguson’s dance/spoken word piece Fat Girls Don’t Dance, about battling eating disorders as a dancer, was really amazing – I kept hearing people talking about it all around the festival.

What are you looking forward to for this year?

I am looking forward to everything, but mainly seeing what progression we have made from last year. I think from year to year we improve so much that it always comes as a bit of a shock when we see it come together!



See Josie’s creations in the flesh at Brainchild Festival this year, from 8 – 10 July at Bentley in East Sussex. Read some more of Lily’s pieces here

Brainchild Festival tickets available here


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