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Creating waves when it first launched in 2020, tech-led label MCQ continues to defy tradition with collaborative collections crafted by select creatives from its global community. In rejecting the mould of a single voice from a single creative director, MCQ is uniquely placed to craft capsules, aptly known as icons, that precisely capture the global zeitgeist and embody what community truly means in an increasingly connected world.
In pursuit of increased connectivity, insight and disruptive ideas, MCQ joins LN-CC in conversation with one of our favourite creative couples; photographer Milo Black and graphic designer Lucy Morris-Thomas. As they join us In Conversation, we uncover what drew these two cute talents together, how each of their approaches challenges the other’s, what collaboration means to them and how they strike a healthy work-life balance.
Let’s go right back to the beginning. How did you meet and what were your first impressions?
Lucy: We met for the first time, on the Southbank outside the Royal Academy, and I guess our first date was just us walking and talking for like six hours getting to know each other, learning the ins and outs of each other’s lives. That was almost five years ago now.
Milo: So crazy. I guess that was when we first met in person, but we first interacted with each other online. I remember you would show me what you were doing with your work, and you wrote these card things for your university show in first year and I was like, “Man, she’s really on it, like she’s a professional.” It sounds so weird saying it now, but you were always on top of it when it came to your work.
Lucy: We met officially on Instagram and were chatting casually. Then when we met, we saw each other for like two days in a row. We hit it off really quickly.
When did your working lives actually coalesce? You’ve worked with LN-CC before, was that the first time?
Milo: I think to begin with, a lot of our conversations were about work and it wasn’t direct collaboration on projects, but it was 100% a conversation. We would talk about the way we approach work and the way we want to execute work. Especially in the early days when I was thinking about becoming a photographer and Lucy was thinking about becoming a graphic designer. I guess we kind of taught ourselves both sides of the coin in a way.
Lucy: The first thing we technically worked on together was Converse. After about four months of us seeing each other, Milo started working at Converse and they did a lot of events. They needed a quick turnaround on invites or menus, and he was the one who put me on that. So that was our first collaboration in some ways, because you had this vision and I was executing it.
Milo: That’s so true. I had totally forgotten about that. It was really interesting to see you working that way, because before that it had been university work and direct things from your tutors. Converse was so much more commercial. It was definitely a scary moment for me as well, bringing in someone who I know and love, to work on a commercial project. It’s funny, I would’ve never thought of that as a time we worked together but absolutely it was.
There must be a sense of reassurance in talking to someone that you admire and you know who can look at things from a different perspective. How do you think having another person to air ideas with, even if you’re not directly working on something, has helped each of you in your own fields?
Milo: For me, it has been essential. Lucy has helped me directly with graphic design in numerous ways and in numerous projects, but the thing I’ve learnt most from Lucy is about focus. About finding a focus and working out what it is that I love doing and just honing that. I think I’ve learnt way more from Lucy than she has from me.
Lucy: With Milo, it’s more along the lines of how the industry works. When we first met, he had been in the industry for about four years. Milo had a lot more insight into how to communicate with people and how I should present myself - not to be too nice! He would tell me, “You don’t have to apologise for everything”. Creatively, I feel like we’re quite different, we like different things. Milo is my biggest critic and my most honest person for feedback. I think that’s what I cherish most about each other’s way of working. It made me learn that not everyone likes what you create. I could go to my peers, and they’d say, “That’s sick,” because we’re all into the same thing, but me and him have very different views on what things look good or not.
Milo: It’s true, we can be so objective because our styles are so different. I remember with Converse, there was a project that you had worked on and even you had said you didn’t love it and that was the first time that I had given honest feedback. It was so great, and it led to quite a healthy relationship in terms of our work.
Lucy: Also knowing when to be like, “I appreciate your opinion, but I have this idea and I’m going to execute this how I want it to be executed.”
How important is collaboration to each of your practices? And what is it about collaboration that drives you forward and challenges you?
Lucy: In my work, anyone who I work with is a client and that’s the relationship bubble that you’re put into. However, a lot of the relationships I’ve created with my clients definitely feels more collaborative. My opinions are put into a project rather than them giving me a brief. It’s a lot harder when you’re a freelancer to say your client is a collaborator.
Milo: I would echo most of what Lucy said there. In terms of being a photographer, even when I’m working at Point Two Studio, we see our clients as more of a collaborator. To me the ultimate collaboration is the hammer. Because you get a carpenter who had the wood, and then you have the metal worker who has the metal, and you literally create a thing that’s light to hold but can hammer stuff hard. That’s the ultimate collaboration. There’s a purpose there, it exists for a reason. In fashion, for the most part, collaboration has been taken too far. You just have to ask yourself when a collaboration is made, “What does this bring?” I think a good example for me of a good collaboration was The North Face x Kaws. It was so outrageous that it was almost like an art piece in itself. It was ridiculous, but in a beautiful way.
Lucy: This is what we mean about how different we are in the way we view some things. I’m optimistic and you’re pessimistic. You’re able to bring me back down to earth and be like this isn’t all rainbows and candy.
In terms of you working together in the future, have you both thought about long term plans or goals?
Lucy: You want to create a book don’t you…?
Milo: We started talking about that during Covid. I started to realise the importance of making physical matter and Lucy works in physical, printed matter, so we’ve been talking about that for a while. But it’s funny, having the idea and then executing it. As soon as you start to design a page you start to get scared and think it’s not ready yet.
Lucy: We’re trying to figure out where we’re at on our own and then we can come together a bit more. We don’t live together, so in that sense when we are together it means that this is our alone time, it’s quite nice.
Thank you. Is there anything you want to highlight in terms of work?
Milo: I have a great studio with a friend of mine and were producing shoots at Point Two Studio. For the stuff I’m doing as a photographer, it’s not really under wraps but I’m building my portfolio, that’s very exciting for me, but nothing public.
Lucy: Nothing publicly to be shouting out about but I am definitely working on more of my own stuff. I want to spend more time on my business LOUMT, and do more around my screen-printing techniques; creating prints and posters, as well as my own books and publications.