Objects made during the group’s “A Watery Line” residency and exhibition at The Tetley in Leeds last August, where they also held open studios and a program of workshops around the various forms of making.

Nous Vous, Graphic Artists

PHOTOS BY KRISTY NOBLE

“It’s about making language visual,” respond the three members of Nous Vous when I ask them about their distinctly French name, which translates to We, You. “Well, it rolls off the tongue nicely, too,” laughs Jay Cover, who founded the London-based trio with William Edmonds and Nicolas Burrows back in 2007. “But aside from that, our external influences tend to be design manifestos where the process is conscious of the audience and collaboration.” We, You — there is a certain anonymity to their practice, reflected also in their European website domain (nousvous.eu), placing the group nowhere specific, perhaps in an effort to avoid defining their collective body of work.

As image-makers, drawing is the pivotal tool to their craft, and all three like to hand-render as much as possible. “We like to mix it up; we get bored quite easily so tend to borrow each others processes,” says William, pointing out his recent foray into ceramics, which was ignited after dropping in on a local pottery class at Hackney City Farm. His wares are manifestations of his drawings — graphic dimensions and trademark wavy lines that oscillate between sculptural and functional. While Nicolas is predominantly a print-maker, incorporating collage and assemblage, and Jay a self-confessed “tinkerer” (which currently includes toy-making, drawing and mark-making), there’s a common current that unifies and pulls their visual practice together.

To the viewer, this instantly resides in their use of color. William cites Memphis, 80s-inspired plastic-brights, and more sculptural ceramics like those of Peter Shire as references, whilst for Jay and Nicolas, it’s about taking a mental note of everyday, of odd and accidental color combinations. “Sometimes it’s about throwing yourself a curve ball and trying to work with it.” But it’s exhibitions that best serve as a test bed for their collective framework. Their recent Flim Flam Flum solo exhibition at London’s KK Outlet in January saw the brilliant interplay of their collective works — illustration, print design, animation, set design, and ceramics; individually distinct, yet witty in color, form, and play when combined.

In between regular commercial commissions for illustration and cultural clients — including Nike, Bloomberg, The New York Times, The Tate, and The Gourmand, to name but a few — the gang are happiest when making things for themselves. “I was drawing with a router and it accidentally moved and I like how it slipped,” says Jay of the logical progression born out of a new process that he’s recently been working with. It’s an intervention of process, sure to be one of many in the collective’s ever-evolving practice.