Will Bankhead

Timeless, Power

There is an image you've been thinking about recently. Something you saw, or saw happen, that plays on the inside of your eyelids when you are taking a rest or drifting off to sleep. Often it's an image that reminds you of a memory, or it is mesmerizing in its patterning, at times completely simple and other times bafflingly complex. These images could be seen as the inspiration for the work of Will Bankhead, a multi-faceted designer of dance and electronic music branding, labelling and merch. Heavily involved in 90's dance music, particularly noise and dub, Bankhead has always been a behind-the-scenes influence on the skate aesthetic, preferring the quiet and calm background to the spotlight. At the time he was a sponsored skateboarder for Slam City Skates and has worked alongside Palace from the get-go, continuing to design boards for them to this day.

Bankhead was a star designer and photographer of James Lavelle's record label, Mo' Wax, alongside artists like Ben Drury, Futura 2000 and Swifty in the early-mid 90's. He later worked with a variety of labels, most prominently Honest Jons Records, and eventually started his own record label / design brand, The Trilogy Tapes. Additionally in the early 10s, Bankhead co-founded Hinge Finger, another record label, with Joy Orbison. Bankhead's early work was born out of an unplanned fusion of his design aesthetics and available technology. The making of early sleeve designs required darkroom photo enlargers and manipulation of images with acetates and paper cutouts, speaking to the way that tinkering and experimenting are the most effective way to produce something which doesn't feel artificial in the slightest. When asked what designs he likes most, Bankhead says "really it's those things that aren't designed that I like," ironic for a designer whose pieces are so flawlessly planned that their simplicity feels magnetic and hip. There is a coolness to his work, a kind of detachment and avoidance of being overly clean that reminds us of his skate roots.

So much of the work that Bankhead does is about creating language, both a visual language for the music he is designing around, and a musical language for the visual aesthetics of his community.

In a way, his work enmeshes skate culture as a visual aesthetic with the sound and ethos of the music he is attached to, because at the end of day, Will Bankhead is just trying to share what he loves with others, as he does with his DJing. The power of working behind-the-scenes is that an artist can pull strings and connect far off ideas, without being pretentious, in essence creating and clarifying a community.
Statement by Omar El-Sabrout