© Ewen Spencer, from the series Kicking over the statues, Co-commissioned for Brighton Photo Biennial, 2016
Ewen Spencer (b1971) graduated from the University of Brighton in 1997 and began shooting for visually driven style magazines, such as Sleazenation and The Face, with an emphasis on youth culture. What separates him from other social documentarians is a sense that he knows and likes his subjects, that they trust him enough to allow him entry into their world, and that he has an understanding of what’s going on without being embedded in the scene himself.
His project Teenagers was shortlisted for the 2014 Discovery Award at Rencontres D’Arles, curated that year by Martin Parr who tipped Ewen as ‘one to watch’. His book Open Mic, a three-year exploration of the burgeoning East London Grime scene was awarded a 2000 D&AD Award. His self-published biannual photo-zine, Guapamente, focuses on global youth sub-cultures. His acclaimed book on the early days of the UK Garage music scene, UKG, was published by GOST in 2013 and led to a short film commission from Dazed & Confused later expanded for Channel 4, plus a Grime documentary based on Open Mic. A four-part documentary film series Street, Sound and Style written directed and narrated by Ewen, was broadcast on Channel4 in 2015 and poses questions later explored in a 2016 series Oh My Mosch considering British menswear’s obsession with flamboyant Italian menswear designers such as Franco Moschino, Gianni Versace and Iceberg.
Cover artwork created by Ewen for bands such as The Streets and The White Stripes has lead to significant advertising commissions and campaigns for Nike, Apple, Footlocker, JD Sports, Redbull, Smirnoff, Lastminute, Redbull, HTC, and Nokia.
Ewen’s new imprint, See W, created in partnership with Olivia Gideon Thomson publishes photobooks, focusing on youth and subculture research, photography and writing.