The Play Is the Thing.
Anthon Beeke is a player. When so many graphic designers are more like accountants with color swatches, designing for business, unaware of their larger influence on the world, Anthon plays.
He plays to make himself happy and surprise himself. His work is not for a client or commission or lucre, it’s not even about work or design— it’s about him. And because it’s about him, it’s about us. The more authentic, the more personal Anthon becomes, the more resonant his designs become for us, his work takes on a deeper meaning and connection, we feel his giddy delight. He speaks directly to us because he gives us a piece of himself. Anthon plays.
Anthon plays with our perceptions, our senses, our morals and prejudice. He asks us to be open and tolerant and to widen our perspective about the world. He leads important conversations and keeps our prudishness about politics and sexuality in check. He urges us to be game for chance and change, for success and failure. He blazes a trail, and then gives us permission to follow our own path, and to take chances and fight for the freedom and creativity and room necessary for our play.
Visually, Anthon is like a groovy “Be Bop” horn player of the jazz world, his riffs pop and bounce from one visual language to the next. He has no commitment to fashion and is a master at photography, typography, collage, even the human form. Rearranging our bodies and features, one could say Anthon “plays well with others.” And he invites us to play along, to dance with him in his beautiful world of fat men and alphabetized women, mismatched colors, cocks and toys, of faces we’ve never seen and yet completely recall, of folk art and fantasy. Anthon’s is a world we would all love to live in if we just had the freedom, balls and bravery necessary to just play.
text James Victore
photo Anthon Beeke as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
2002, photographed by Anna Tiedink