Ian Keltie began the new century as a long-distance commuter: he spent the working week in London at magazines and at the BBC, weekends in his hometown of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He returned to the north-east permanently in 2004 and co-founded his design practice, Keltie Cochrane, in 2008.
His client base is pretty hip considering he once asked his design team in earnest, “Who is Jay-Zed?” Rolling Stone, The New York Times, Time Out and Lucasfilm are on his books.
He counts fashion as a major influence on his work. “I can go into Topshop and see a shirt and think, ‘look at the colours on that,’ ” he says. His colour sensibility often comes into play with Photoshop’s Threshold and Posterize functions. “I also like Select > Similar; it’s great when you’re working in two-colour images,” he says.
His style, which he says evolved naturally, is a fine balance between paring down detail to make the correct impact, while leaving in enough to make figures recognisable, particularly with advertising campaigns involving celebrities.
“I’ll posterize, say, Mary J Blige so that she’s a black-and-white image,” he says. “I’ll extract the black and white onto two different layers. “Then I’ll mess around with different colourations on each layer and see which one fits the path best.”
He concludes: “I’m trying to create something cool that people will take some kind of pleasure from. I’m not into the idea that every image has to have a deep message that the artist wants to waffle about.”
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