Daring To Be Different

An In-Demand Graphic Designer Explores London His Way
Mike Kus, British graphic designer, illustrator, and photographer on assignment outside of London.
Mike Kus
Graphic Designer, Illustrator, Photographer

Art doesn't have to be pretty, according to Mike Kus. It goes hand-in-hand with his other mantra, which is that it isn't necessary to live life the way other people expect.

These and other unconventional truths are what have made Kus extraordinary in the world of online design, with a worldwide client roster that boasts brands such as Twitter, Burberry, Red Bull, and Land Rover.

Design requires a story with meaning, and, for Kus, to be successful it requires one extra leap of faith—daring to be different.

A landscape shot by Kus near Pikes Peak.
Blazing A Trail
A Challenge-Based Life

Kus’s love of photography began as a child when his father gave him a Russian Zenit camera. Since then, the multi-talented artist has worked on perfecting his craft; and capturing what others can't through photography, graphic design, and illustration has become second nature.

It is his refined skill set and dedicated work ethic that compelled Land Rover to commission Kus to document veteran driver, Paul Dallenbach’s attempt to set a new world record for the fastest ascent of Pikes Peak in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains in 2013.

Paul Dallenbach, reached the Pikes Peak summit in under 13 minutes.
No Risk, No Reward
A Singular Technique

A 20-kilometer hill climb with more than 156 hair-raising turns, Dallenbach reached the Rocky Mountain peak in a record-breaking 12 minutes and 35.61 seconds.

"That's an average speed of just under 60 m.p.h. for the climb, which is just crazy, seeing as it wasn't overly pleasant trundling up there at ten miles per hour in a mini bus!" Kus recalls.

Perhaps even more extraordinary? Kus shot the entire project using an iPhone 5.

Mike Kus has embraced new technology shooting many of his projects directly on his iPhone.
Being The Black Sheep
And Embracing New Technology

Advances in digital photography have afforded Kus the opportunity to share his unique aesthetic with the world. He's garnered a huge following on Instagram since he joined the platform in 2007, currently counting 840,000 followers and rising.

And he's taken professional photography via social media to a whole new level. Hired by Burberry to take over their Instagram account during the British house's London Fashion Week presentation, Kus’s one-of-a-kind technique was evident once again. Standing shoulder-to-shoulder in a sea of fashion photographers using heavy-duty cameras and lenses, Kus captured the key moment's of the world class show, using just his pocket-sized iPhone camera.

Local Recommendations

On The Outside, Looking In

Perspective is everything in Mike Kus's creative projects. The same applies to his view of the city of London. Though he lives in Chichester, about two hours from the city center, Kus regularly commutes to the city for work. That makes him both a local and a tourist, a regular and a stranger, affording him a unique insider's perspective of London—from the outside looking in.

By The Book

Inside A Creative Hub For Thinkers And Drinkers

The Book Club (100-106 Leonard St., Shoreditch; +44-20-7684-8618), a homey place for local creatives, is not your average coffee shop. Despite its nondescript name, the two-story, restored Victorian warehouse is packed with people hosting off-the-cuff meetings or playing ping pong while sipping a steaming cup of the barista's best Volcano coffee. Weekend brunch draws a crowd for porridge or pancakes covered in caramel sauce and fresh fruit, and the savory Full English breakfast. During the week, diners nibble on the signature dish of ham, eggs, and chips, and stick around for the live bands, DJs, speed dating, informative talks, drawing classes, classic video games, and, best of all, creative cocktails.

Don’t miss the Hot Buttered Coconut Rum, made with warm coconut oil, or the Cherry Thomas, the Book Club's take on a classic whisky sour using cherry bitters.

Underground Art

Explore London's Tunnels For Surprises Below Ground

The creative setting alone at The Vaults (Leake Street, Lambeth; +44-20-7401-9603), an alternative contemporary arts complex in the tunnels of Waterloo Station, is worth exploring. Descend into the gallery, found near the famous Leake Street graffiti tunnel, to find works by a fresh lineup of emerging international artists.

Continue through the maze to discover the Vaults Theater, home to unconventional performances on stage, and the Big Mezzo, one of The Vaults' available rental spaces that hosts everything from DJs and dancing to haunted houses.

Feed your curiosity (and your stomach) in the experimental Vaults Kitchen, a curated dining experience where young chefs try out new recipes in a constantly surprising whirl of pop-up restaurants.

Up To Bar

Let The Ale Flow

Don't let the name fool you: the Old Coffee House (49 Beak St., Soho; +44 20 7437 2197) tavern is exactly what a proper pub should be, with a proud history dating back 500 years, and more than a few good stories to be told around the sturdy dark-wood bar and well-worn booths.

And what the Old Coffee House lacks in caffeinated beverages, they make up for in beer, at least count, featuring 11 different varieties of hop-laden ales on tap from Brodie's Fabulous Beers, brewed using recipes that founder Jamie Brodie originally concocted in his bathtub at home.

Young At Art

A Prestigious Gallery With A Millennial Point Of View

Millennial founders Jonny Burt and Joe Kennedy dreamed of owning an art gallery that refused to adhere to industry standards. With Unit London (147-149 Wardour St., Soho; +44-20-7494-2035) the co-founders have built an inclusive and accessible arts space where talented young creators are building their careers, and the gallery’s relaxed atmosphere invites visitors to drop in without an appointment.
Its offbeat origins as a collective bringing together artists, collectors, first-time buyers, and art enthusiasts set Unit London apart from other contemporary galleries on the buzzing Wardour Street, but its bold and daring new works by up-and-coming international talents place it precisely on par.