Stand-Alone Studio

Ultimate Holding Company started life in 2002 as an activist collective. It undertook self-initiated work, site specific residencies, art commissions, exhibition curation, consultation and commercial graphic design projects. For a while there was even an allotment that required constant tending.

The organisation’s graphic design department was initially set up to provide artists working on low income commissions with a source of additional funding. Since then the studio has created a long series of successful artist-led works that have culminated in an acclaimed 12 year social activism programme. ‘This is Camp X Ray’, a fully operational, life-size replica of the U.S. internment camp at Guantanamo Bay, appropriately featured in The Sun newspaper under the headline ‘Silly Arts’. ‘extInked’, an art and ecology project in which 100 original drawings of endangered British species were tattooed onto 100 animal ambassadors, received overwhelming public support that led to a national tour. All the while the design service continued to go from strength to strength, producing creative for campaigns, limited edition books, political reports, festival guides, data-graphics, icons, illustrations, websites and even hand-printed compost bags. The collective never stood still, making the task of representing all of its activity consistently under a single identity constantly challenging.

As graphic designers we’re always aspiring to learn through collaboration with an ever-increasing list of interesting people working across the cultural, education and charitable sectors, right through to values led organisations. If we’re honest, finding the opportunity to do so hasn’t been straight forward. We’ve always received positive feedback and could fill an article with kind testimonials. We’re confident of our ability to create imaginative and ethically sound design for print, screen and web. However, in the past we’ve been conscious of the fact that our work sometimes became hidden behind Ultimate Holding Company’s art projects. This was in part an unfortunate result of the organisation’s eventual complexity.

So at the start of the year we resolved to take steps to simplify operations for the good of all involved. We wanted to position ourselves to devote more time, space and attention to our graphic design practice whilst still retaining a supportive relationship with associate artists. Standing alone is not a decision that has been arrived at without deliberation. It’s an opportunity that’s been under contemplation and development for several months.

After careful consideration we’ve concluded that now is the time to relaunch our graphic design department. We’ve set our desks up in a separate space devoted entirely to our cause, and we’ve crafted an original identity that reflects our new-found autonomy and character; we’re now officially known as Minute Works.