Ryan Doyle and Mark Edwards, Perth and Portsmouth respectively. Growing up almost 500 miles apart, the two now spend their days facing each other in a former Victorian mill that sits pretty much slap-dab in the middle: Salford. The Manchester-based creative force are no strangers to the pages of this very website, do your homework: here, here, and here. Last year I described their work as “chemical freebase”. It’s true – my name is James Davidson, and I’m a DR.ME addict. And when it rains, you’re shining down for me. And I just can’t get enough, I just can’t get enough. And today it rains, I’m in Salford, that’s what it’s supposed to do.
If DR.ME’s psychedelic visual playgrounds are my fix, Islington Mills is my meth lab. Here the duo spew forth ideas with delightful vehemence; Red Bull Music Academy, Tri Angle Records, Young Turks just three of the brands who are welcome recipients of Doyle and Edwards’ ocular mischievousness. I broach the oft-asked question posed to those doing their business north of Watford: “As a first year student I was keen to speak with one of my heroes, especially as he’d launched his career in Manchester, and ask him if he had any advice for me as a young designer” Mark ‘Eddy’ Edwards begins. The duo met after being paired up at Manchester School of Art where they were studying, local design icon Peter Saville was in town for Reification – 24 hours of ‘binge thinking’ and ‘chain chatting’ that would celebrate the life of recently-passed Factory bossman, Tony Wilson. “You have to move to London” was the surprising response from the then Creative Director of the City of Manchester.
“I guess it might have been these words in part that really lit a fire under both of us to stay in Manchester, which is kind of a good thing – but still, selling short the city that made him was pretty cheap. He lost my respect that day.” You needn’t spend too long browsing the DR.ME archives to fathom that Eddy and Ryan hail from the ‘do this’, ‘no! I’m gonna do this instead’ school of thought. A short time spent working for New York-based illustrator Mike Perry and a minor obsession with uncompromising design activist James Victore meant that this odd couple were never destined for a straightforward career path. It’s with the latter’s words in their heads that the duo continued to create, even when potential clients were far from beating a path to their door. Resoluteness and an unflinching approach to aesthetics won the day. DR.ME’s deluge of conceptualism, commitment to hands-on craft, and freedom of thought found its natural bedfellows. Record labels, festivals, club nights: Doyle and Edwards’ relentless creativity is on the rise. Who needs London?
Primarily working on new projects individually, the twosome present separate rough ideas to clients before refining the chosen concepts together. I’m mildly disappointed to find that the hallucinatory, optical dementia that I’ve so long lusted over is fuelled not by Timothy Leary-prescribed psychoactives, but by Irn-Bru. Doyle was made in Scotland, after all. From girders? I’m not sure. I digress, the duo’s days may be stimulated by indescribable orange carbonated substance, but there is nothing soft about their output. Pens, crayons, self-initiated projects, paints, screen-prints and scraps of paper surround a couplet of MacBooks. Doyle’s is of particular vintage. Point is: here are two contemporary art-led designers who see the digital medium as a way to refine raw ideas. There is a distinct shortage of modern creatives willing to get their hands dirty, and the fruits of such tangible labour are apparent for all to see. Fortune favours the brave. Oh, the boxing gloves? Don’t ask.