Flying high. The Steph Hamer interview.

The Wasters are very proud of her cover design. Steph worked with an original photo from Das Wasteland founder Martyn Goodacre shot at the Fliegeberg in Berlin where aviation history began with Otto Lilienthal in 1894, to create the stunning final image. Here we manage to tie the ’hardest working girl in Neukölln’ down for a quick chat at her studio hideaway near Karl Marx Straße.

Where did you study?

I studied at UCLan – in a tiny little student ‘city’ called Preston in the UK. As is still the case, I couldn’t make up my mind with what I wanted to do, so I flipped between Photography, Fashion and eventually landed on Graphic Design. These days I’m continuing with the design side but trying to focus more on painting

Who are your influences?

The Hipgnosis crew (Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell) are a pretty big influence. Their designs are way too futuristic for that era and it harks back to a time when I crave to have been alive; when originality existed and we weren’t all Pinterest designers. Painting wise, I think it’s pretty obvious that Francis Bacon is my main man, though I’m slowly trying to get away from looking at his paintings.

Why did you move to Berlin? What do you like about Berlin?

Initially, I really didn’t want to move to Germany at all, then I visited Berlin for only four days days before deciding to move here. It sounds clichéd but it really does exude this creative energy that gets in your system and makes you want to do stuff. It felt like it was a continuation of University and therefore playtime for me, which to be honest still hasn’t changed. Berlin is basically a big, fat art school. Everyone’s a character, which is the best. Until you’re hungover.

How did you meet the Das Wastelanders?

As every good story begins – in a bar. It was Martyn who I first met whilst I was working behind the bar at Das Gift and we got along straight away with our British banter and my eagerness for a lesson in whisky testing, which later resulted in drinking Tabasco from the bottle. Fast forward a few months and I worked with Martyn to curate his exhibition ‘Whos Fuckin Planet!’and we’ve since worked together happily ever after. Funnily enough, I was introduced to the rest of the Wasters at the same bar and since then our friendships have revolved around drinks and album covers, which sounds pretty dreamy if you ask me.

Anything about the ideas behind the cover shot?

We thought the cover was nailed pretty early on with a design based around a glitchy version of the Siegessäule (Victory Column) in Berlin – we had the image rights and everything. Then one week before the Das Wasteland pressing there was an LP released that focussed on ‘Summer in Berlin’ AND used the same imagery. Double Whammy. Anyway, I’m glad it happened because I think this one is a much better cover with the right level of intrigue and impact, and it made for such a good day out discovering hidden gems in Berlin. It’s unbelievable that THAT was the tiny little hill where the pioneer of aviation was born….and died.

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