“Basilicas” by Adrian Johnson

This graphic designer creates prints celebrating the form and function of classic cameras

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An identifiable aesthetic and high level of simple sophistication mark the ever-evolving graphic design work of Liverpool-born artist Adrian Johnson. But having become increasingly disenfranchised with commercial illustration work after 15 years in design, Johnson felt the need to approach his work from a new angle, and his latest series “Basilicas” evolved from this desire for a fresh start. Cameras were working their way into his life as a result of travel and having a young family, and they began to inform and inspire his graphic work. This series of prints celebrates the form and function of classic cameras with a consistent palette of nine colors. But what truly reveals what these cameras stand for, is the name of the series: “Basilicas.”


The “Basilicas” series is a nod to the likeness of these cameras to cathedrals; with towering lenses and dark chambers, each is strongly architectural. Johnson relates the photographers’ instrument to great places of worship. Most people use a camera as a lens, but stop short of appreciating it on its own. The name also references less literal characteristics that both cameras and cathedrals share: both capture people—one in a moment in time, the other in referential awe.

Johnson explains, “I felt I needed another conduit to be creative, and I found that through taking as opposed to making pictures. I bought a very good camera, but the more photography I became engrossed in, the more I was seduced by the aesthetic qualities that classic and iconic cameras behold.” The nine images in this ongoing series focus on cameras by Leica, Hasselblad, Rolleiflex, Mamiya, Olympus, Linhof and Polaroid, all with full blessing and excitement from the manufacturers themselves. This approval gave him the confidence he needed to really push forward with the project.

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Johnson’s work has already led to a prolific working career all as a result to his attention to detail, humour and a unique timelessness. The “Basilicas” series will be available to pre-order from the Kemistry Gallery between 25-27 July, then exclusively for sale through Johnson from 1 August.

Images courtesy of Adrian Johnson