August 2018

Gang Colours

Gang AtelierGang AtelierGang AtelierGang AtelierGang AtelierGang AtelierText: Fleur Mitchell Images: Gang Atelier

Gang Atelier is the creation of Mitch Brown and Sarah Grieve. And it’s dangerous. A few minutes of browsing their beautiful online store and you will want to own Every. Single. Thing. After recognising the lack of international specialist titles with a visual slant in the Australian retail space, they have stepped in to fill the gap. Now we have Gang Atelier, crisis averted.

The store is thoughtfully and tightly curated, with items sourced from around the globe. Bringing together a selection of books, magazines and prints from amazing independent publishers like Picturebox and Libraryman. It’s all killer and no filler.

Fleur Mitchell spoke to Mitch Brown about creative partnerships, the demise of the local bookstore and partaking in a little crystal ball gazing…


Fleur Mitchell: Tell me about Gang Atelier, how was the idea born?

Mitch Brown: Initially it was a reaction to the hole we felt existed in the offerings at local bookstores, but rather than complain to each other about what was missing, we decided it was just as easy to bring it here ourselves, and share all the things we love about international visual culture with a local audience.

FM: So aside from the store itself, Gang Atelier is also a creative studio? Tell me about that side of things.

MB: Having worked together for a brief time as designers and art directors at a prominent Sydney music label, it became clear then how essential good relationships are in the creative process… Sarah and I worked well together, and felt a creative partnership was a good idea, so G.A. became a way for us to create design projects with our favourite artists and not necessarily be dictated by commerciality – rather, focusing on successful collaborations with conceptual fulfillment.

FM: What are the kind of titles are you stocking and why?

MB: We have a huge admiration for independent publishers; Brooklyn’s Picturebox are always blowing us away, Libraryman make beautiful books with no detail spared, while we are very proud to introduce the cheerful and perfectly crafted titles of Sam de Groot’s imprint True True True, all the way from the Netherlands. Those projects are driven by individuals with absolute conviction in presenting beautiful work in a handsome package.

As much as we want to present books, we’re hardly limited to that. Artist edition photographs and prints, music and lifestyle products will all come into the store as we progress.

FM: Due to increasing competition online, we’ve recently seen the collapse of major bookstore chains like Borders and small, independent stores are finding it difficult too. What are your thoughts about this shift, having just launched an online store with a focus on books?

MB: Yeah, this is something we’ve been mindful of from the very conception of our project. We, as much as anyone, appreciate the local bookstores who offer specialty books, especially in art and design (speaking mostly about places like Melbourne’s Metropolis, and Sydney’s Published Art) — places we have spent a lot of time and money over the years…

Without ever wanting to take business away from these institutions, our goal was simply to offer things that (as far as we understand) nobody else has. Unique titles that we love, and other stores have no time for.

Being confined to an online presence (at least for the immediate future), we’re fortunate to be able to keep the operation modest, and focus on curating a broad selection of books and objects that are close to our hearts.

FM: It must be fun picking items that you love and sharing them with other people. Do you enjoy searching for new things for the store?

MB: Absolutely, discovering new projects and publishers is essential in presenting fresh material, and it’s the most rewarding part of the process. The main objective of the store is to give these titles a place to fit into whatever the amorphous state of bookstores is these days.

Like a lot of my friends, I’m a self confessed visual culture addict, so putting that research and interest into a new venture only validates my obsession.

FM: How did you and Sarah find the time to get it off the ground, were there many late nights? How long have you been working on this project?

MB: It has been a very long but rewarding process: curating the stock, designing the site, working with our developer, etcetera. Awesome to realise it, and planning upcoming G.A. projects — all while juggling full-time jobs — has been tricky. I guess if you want something bad enough you just make it happen though, right?

FM: The site design itself is beautiful, simple and clean. How important do you think the design of the online space is? Some online stores are really hard to navigate and it seems to take away from the whole experience, it’s just not as enjoyable. What were you thinking about when designing it?

MB: Thank you. As long as it’s functional and people receive their orders correctly, then we’re happy!

FM: Gazing into a crystal ball, where would you like to see Gang Atelier in a few years time?

MB: Much of the same. Hopefully still grateful for the experience. After being forced from Sydney due to extortionate real estate prices, G.A. settles into the Blue Mountains with a 360 degree mountain-view office and crystal cave in the backyard.

Download Dreamtime’s Love Song mix exclusive for Gang Atelier

Next story: Ten Inches – DJ Nozaki