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Sometimes things can be too perfect. They can be pushed to a point where they are devoid of any real character, energy or charm. It's all about finding that sweet spot, striking the balance between the craft and precision whilst still allowing personality to shine through. Nicolai Sclater (The Ornamental Conifer to you and me) has this in abundance.

I'd been a fan of his work longer than I'd realised that I'd been a fan of his work. Somehow by using the traditional technique of sign writing his work crept up on me very slowly from behind and then, when I was least expecting it, slapped me in the face with a wet paintbrush and nicked my phone, wallet and keys.

If you don't know his work, the Ornamental Conifer is an artist using a traditional technique to communicate his irreverent word play. His impressive output can be seen painted over walls, motorcycles, cars, leather jackets, surfboards and crockery. Beautiful typography, wit and a colour palette that makes my colour blind brain freak out... what's not to like.

After being a secret mega fan I was lucky enough to work with him when I was heading up the design team at Liberty. I jumped at the opportunity to commission him for a project; we had impossibly tight deadline and an even tighter budget and he still nailed it. Even with the added challenge of painting onto wellington boots.

I am recommending the Ornamental Conifer not for the fact that he has long hair, tattoos and rides around on his motorbike in the sunshine but for his passion for word play and language, the craft of his work, the precision, his belief in his ability and his commitment to a good punch line.

Written by
MATT BLEASE
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