graphic design

Meet Aamir Khuller--the designer amplifying the work of Tony Cruise, Tech Yes, and October '71 by Maxwell Young

Photo courtesy of Aamir Khuller’s  Instagram .

Photo courtesy of Aamir Khuller’s Instagram.

What is it that compels us to engage with the material (and immaterial) things in our world? “Life’s Goods” as our InTheRough page describes.

The clothes we wear, the music we listen to, the posts we share & like, even the furniture we buy for the dwellings we live in are dictated by behavioral motivations we have as human beings.

In 1943, psychologist Abraham Maslow developed a hierarchy of needs, outlining behavior through prisms of physiology, safety, love/belonging, esteem, and self actualization. We are motivated by primal instincts, yes—the need for food, shelter, and copulation are first in the natural order of things—while other motivations like security and value become more extrinsic, rooted in reward-based systems. The importance of your financial wellbeing or the desire for a luxury vehicle versus ‘I just need a car that runs’ are examples that come to mind. Such needs are satisfied by design; the manner in which we facilitate our consumption, protection, procreation, construction/destruction, and other societal frameworks.

The nature of being human has seemed to me a series of attempts in imprinting control over what we perceive to be out of ours, but most of these definitions are held up flimsily by a collective spiral of silence.
— Aamir Khuller, artist & designer

Aamir Khuller is a Los Angeles-based graphic designer, photographer, art director, videographer, production assistant, and film director reinforcing the branding and aesthetics of his “tribe” of friends and artists who inspire him.

If you’re hip to Washington, D.C.-based artists Sir E.U and Jamel Zuñiga; Rob Stokes and October ‘71; or Tony Cruise, chances are you’ve seen Khuller’s work. As a designer, he’s been commissioned to capture and interpret the sonic tastes of these artists into adequate visual representations including graphics, photographs, videos, and flyers.

We saw Khuller’s art direction in grand scale last November, when sound engineer Tony Cruise fka Tony Kill debuted his latest LP, Replica, on 926kmh.com. The now defunct website designed by Khuller premiered Cruise’s music in a unique audiovisual experience that was alternative to contemporary streaming methods. “Traditional albums are dead,” Cruise told me. We briefly discussed the creative execution of the project in between tracks at a Tech Yes in December. “Don’t even talk to me about it. Talk to Aamir. He ran with it.”

For Cruise who is so entrenched in the way his music is perceived, it was interesting to find out he relinquished one of the more external-facing aspects of the project to someone else. I caught up with Khuller, the man Cruise entrusted to design the webpage, via email to understand more about the genesis and evolution of 926kmh.com as well as the creative communities he supports on the East and West coasts.

ITR: I asked Tony about the design of the website he released Replica on, 926kmh.com, and he told me he didn’t give you much direction. Talk about that level of trust.  How’d you meet?

AK: Tony was my uncle in a past life or something like that. He wished me happy birthday one year and sent me his address and I ran up on him like a month later, etc. In regards to trust, we probably identify with similar fascinations over quality of detail and have similar taste. This bamma didn’t even have the music for me to listen to when I made the campaign haha.

In order to have a replica, there has to be an original.  In Tony’s case, that’s Thought Crimes.  How did the music and even the cover art/branding of that project inform your design process for this go-round?

My design process is pretty impulsive, I don’t know how much it directly informed it but in retrospection there’s some overlap in the spontaneity and texture. I’m not sure, the majority of fleshed out design took place in a day or so.

In what ways did the sonics of Replica influence your work?

Can I insert this

*disclaimer: everything I say ought not to be redacted*

.jpg into the article?

Courtesy of Aamir Khuller

Courtesy of Aamir Khuller

The URL of Replica sounds like a radio station.  What’s the significance of it?

Redefinition of muddied waters.

I noticed that the site had been updated periodically since Replica’s release.  Some of the words I read are familiar from Tony’s IG Stories.  Can you talk about how the page evolved?

Art, as experienced by the contemporary user, is continually defined evolution and flux so I think it’s crucial to reflect that. The nature of being human has seemed to me a series of attempts in imprinting control over what we perceive to be out of ours but most of these definitions are held up flimsily by a collective spiral of silence. Art is ongoing as are the relationships between subject, artist, and audience and what you see is the result of the technological apparatuses to do so.

Et Cetera Labs - what can you say about it?

It’s the equivalent to a cruelty-free animal sticker. I don’t really know much else, truthfully.

You live in LA, right? Put us onto to some local talent you’ve been able to experience lately.  It could be any medium.

I consider myself fortunate to have a tribe in that sense — an abundance of my friends continually inspire me. I don’t want to list off people because there truly are too many and I’d prefer not to offend anyone out of a stony fog but it shall become even more apparent in 2019.

I’m curious about your life in the DMV and the people and places that informed your creative community growing up.

I began making art because I felt like I didn’t have any friends; that wasn’t reality as much as my perception but it caused me to branch out of the somewhat sheltered bubble I existed in before and for that I’m grateful.

Why’d you leave? What does the DMV’s creative community look like from across the coast?

I got a chance to leave and didn’t have much of a reason to stay. I cannot profess to be hyper tuned-in from afar but some of my dearest friends are making beautiful art and doing whatever the fuck they want and each time I’ve returned they’ve introduced me to more and more people on the same frequency. I think getting more involved could be cool.

Who had the best album cover of 2018?

Trippie Redd or Blood Orange.

What can we expect from Aamir in 2019?

I am a citizen of the world.

Where can we find your work?

I am a citizen of the world.

Lol.

Search my name though. I just did and found out I have an IMDb page. Instagram is cool too. Can you link the word instagram to mine in the article? That’d be wavy. Or borderline corny. Agh this is awkward. No more.