I’ve been admiring the work of Paul Williams (who works under the name Halftones & Headphones) for far longer than I realised. I’d been spotting his poster for “Rocket Science” at Bungalows and Bears, one of my favourite Sheffield music venues, for a good year before I applied to be part of the Born in Britain campaign, and when I began browsing the net for interesting local artists, it cropped up again in my search, so I took the opportunity to find out a little more about the artist behind it.
Originally hailing from Liverpool, Williams studied graphic design at Sheffield Hallam University and now resides permanently here in Steel City as a freelance designer. On his website, he describes himself as “obsessed” with print and poster design, and for good reason – his designs are incredibly striking, complex and yet clean too, full of bold colours and sharp lines.
Williams has had numerous commissions both in Sheffield and beyond; as well as being designer in residence for Bungalows & Bears, he numbers among his clients Sheffield-based craft collective Craft Candy, the Lescar Hotel and Atelier Überall in Berlin. In January 2011, he won a competition to design a window display for Selfridges in Manchester as part of their Bright Young Things” campaign. The design incorporated the faces of the people of Manchester and spelt out the word “hello” which, according to Williams, was to both “reclaim” the commercial space on the part of the people of Manchester and to greet passers-by with something friendly and universal.
Williams has also created a host of interesting personal projects. As part of a university brief, he created a series of screen-printed images for the Electricworks media centre, the designs of which explore the relationship Sheffield has with its environment, and he is currently working on an on-going project entitled “Bike Folk”, in which he travels the UK interviewing and photographing bike-owners with their cycles.
Personally, I like Williams’ work because there’s always more to see, and because he manages to create a simple intricacy characteristic across all of his varied projects and pieces. I’m pleased he fits the Born in Britain brief so well because it means I get to share his designs, which are becoming an increasingly familiar sight around Sheffield, with everyone who isn’t fortunate enough to be able to stroll down Division Street every day. To check out more of his designs, visit his website – I’ve barely scratched the surface of them all!