For May’s monthly maker we’re shining a spotlight on Lewis Claus, graphic designer and founder of music event and streetwear brand Mind Kontrol.
Lewis joined us at Make through the Lee Kent Residency Award. The residency was created in memory of our late resident and friend Lee Kent, an incredibly creative soul who could turn his hand to just about anything, always with a smile on his face. The residency is in partnership with Hugh Baird College with special thanks to Max McDonough and Harry Myton who played a big part in making it happen.
Lewis and I chatted about how the residency has been going, what he’s been working on and some exciting events he’s got coming up soon.
Hey Lewis! Can you tell us about what you do?
I’m a graphic designer and I’m currently delving into fashion, combining my graphics into the designs; on t-shirts, bags and more. I work with a local Liverpool company to print my designs and my girlfriend hand paints my designs onto the bags too. The goal is to have a printing studio of my own, Dark Circle is a massive inspiration to me.
I’ve developed a brand called Mind Kontrol which is a community hub for music and fashion. With Mind Kontrol I run music events, and hopefully, in the future, it will develop into a record label. The underground house community is definitely growing. There’s a digging culture where we’ll actually go out to record shops and buy records to play, and I do a bit of DJing myself.
Mind Kontrol started during the pandemic. It started off with me sharing tunes and uploading minute clips to Instagram. I didn’t intend to do events because I had done an event in the past called Rhythm but I lost too much money. I wanted to start a music blog and give Dj’s a platform and share good tunes for them to use. But I thought I would try another event, I gave it a go and it went really well! I’ve learnt from my mistakes from the first event and I’m figuring it out, so I’m looking forward to the events that are coming up.
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How did you get into the music scene and DJing?
From an early age, my older sister would listen to stuff like pleasure rooms and it was a natural progression from being introduced to EDM to then looking for techno and tech-house and disco, and going on my own journey to find new music.
What sparked your interest in graphic design?
My mum is arty so I’ve probably taken after her. I’ve always been creative. Even in primary school, I was the kid who the other kids would get to make things for them. In school I studied art because graphic design wasn’t a thing, there were no computers or Adobe, I only discovered graphic design in college, then I just stuck at it.
I went to Stafford University to study graphic design but it wasn’t for me at the time and I didn’t really like being away from home. When I came back to Liverpool I started studying graphic design at Hugh Baird and graduated from there in 2019 with a first. Then last year I received the award to have a space here which has allowed me to continue to develop my skills more.
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What has been one of your favourite projects you’ve ever worked on and why?
Working with Cr2 Records when I was doing freelance graphic design. I used to make animations for their youtube page. Because the music is electronic, they don’t have the usual music videos, so I would create visuals and animations to support the sample packs that they do. They did a partnership with Purple Disco Machine and I made a video for that so that was really good. One of the videos has like 80,000 views so that’s amazing to know that many people have seen your animations. They have asked me to create for them again. They want me to create a lyric video for a song that’s going to be on the Beatport chart.
What would your advice be for anyone who wants to work for themselves?
Grow your network first, save up, and be prepared to lose money. I’m still networking and meeting new people all the time. Find your unique selling point, try to be different to everyone else. Because I’ve got full control, I try to add a little twist to my events to make them different.
What are you working on next?
July is a big month for us. Starting off the month we’re doing an event in the Black Pearl in Baltic, and then we’re doing an instore gig in 2B Records. Then we’ve got the big party at Make in August which is called ‘Summer Cookout’. It’s a music event but Because I’m a chef it’s going to have a big BBQ and sell burgers and everything. After that, I’ve got an event in October and hopefully then in November and December. So hopefully a busy year!
At Make I’ve been working on my t-shirt designs, I had my first online order this week. And soon I’m going to be doing a photoshoot for the t-shirts and other bits.
Today I’m going to be working on animation for the Summer Cookout Event. There are 2 months to go to the event, so now’s the time to start promoting lots and paying for promo on Instagram and sharing it as much as I can.
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How do you book DJs for your events?
I just email them if they’re not represented or their booking agent, we’ll discuss a fee and sort the rest out from there. I definitely overpaid DJs fees with my first, but now I know more about the rates. I’m always learning things and developing.
What’s it like having a space at Make?
It’s good to be around other creative people, especially chatting with Alex* and seeing what he does with No Mind Collective. Also, it’s great to have the wood workshop here because I want to build stuff for my event. Also to be able to get support from Niamh from Make for budgeting and contracting is helpful. And be able to access the space for my events too.
*Fellow Make North Docks resident and founder of No Mind Collective
Where can people find your products and services?
I designed my website myself, which is the best thing I’ve done with Mind Kontrol to be able to sell my t-shirt and tickets, and you can find me on Instagram too.
INTERESTED IN JOINING Lewis IN THE MAKE COMMUNITY?
We’d love to have you! Find out more about our studios HERE or drop us a line at HELLO@MAKECIC.ORG.
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Lewis IS PART OF THE ENTERPRISE HUB SKILLS PROGRAMME. FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE PROGRAMME HERE AND EMAIL ROSIE.ASHTON@MAKECIC.ORG TO REGISTER FOR ONE TO ONE SUPPORT AT MAKE CIC.