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In the world of creative agency ad land, competition for business is fierce.  One minute you're working with a giant of a sports brand the next you're pitching for a new client, selling your vision. But there's one agency who has been pushing their clients with their work, consistently and with another level of brilliance for some time now. That agency is, I Love Dust.

A creative agency from humble beginnings, I Love Dust have worked with the biggest in the business and set trends with their work. If you know your Nike Football ads for example, you'll have witnessed the impact ILD has had on the brands cultural success. ILD's work continues to raise the bar and has their many admirers wondering what's going to come out of the Portsmouth based studio next.

We caught up with the agency's creative chief, Mark Graham on humble beginnings, ILD's love for the 80's & 90's aesthetic and the hope to one day work with Fernando Torres.

Cult Kits: First things first… What's your earliest footballing memory?

Mark Graham: I was born in Peterborough but lived pretty much all my life in Portsmouth, so of course, I have to be a Liverpool fan. I didn't really properly, get into football as such, until I was in my teens, I was a geeky little skater and at the time football and skating didn't really go hand in hand.

My earliest memory to be honest was when Pompey played Liverpool in the FA cup Semi final. My whole family came to watch it at our house, sisters, cousins, uncles and aunts all huddled around the TV cheering on Pompey, so because I was an annoying teenager I was cheering for Liverpool, just to get everybody at it.

Since that moment i have always supported Liverpool really, it could of been any team on the planet just as long as it annoyed my family at the time.

CK: Do you have a favourite football shirt?

MG: I think it’s a toss up between 1995 BVB Nike Kit, 1990 Umbro England 3rd Kit or the Pink 97 Juventus Kappa shirt.

CK: So, how did I Love Dust form?

MG: We formed 21 years years ago now, born out of a mix of not being able to find a job in the industry really, I was selling woks in a cookery shop or sweeping up on building sites. A series of unpaid internships cemented the fact that I wanted to work within the creative industry so it was all about begging people to work with us, do stuff for free, send work into magazines etc, this was pre Social media so you had to try super hard to get seen, now it's much easier, but also so ultra saturated to stand out too, hard to know if ILD would be the same if we hadn’t started in a bit of a different time creatively.


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CK: How would you best define the ILD and its work?

MG: We have 2 or 3 mantras that best of defines us :Seduction Vs Function, No rules here we’re trying to accomplish something and The Action is the juice 

We have changed and mutated over the years really from straight out and out illustration and graphic design to then growing into more animation and then back again as our crüe became bigger and badder, we’ve always tried to hire really talented people who bring something different to the party. We’ve definitely talked ourselves into projects that really challenge us too, we try hard to never do the same thing twice. I guess we just like to define ourselves as a really, really fucking good and hard working design crüe.


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CK: ILD has worked with some of the biggest brands out there, has there been a standout?

MG: We really have! and sometimes we have to remind ourselves of that, we don't tend to congratulate ourselves too much to be honest it's a tough industry and getting tougher so we’re always keeping our head down and going from project to project.

I think our first job for Nike was pretty massive. We worked on a Levi X Jordan graphic and packaging for their Levi 523 Collection, always been into trainers and trainer culture so to get to work on a Jordan project was such a huge thing for us.


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"We’ve definitely talked ourselves into projects that really challenge us too, we try hard to never do the same thing twice. I guess we just like to define ourselves as a really, really fucking good and hard working design crüe."

Mark Graham – I Love Dust.


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Personally working with Run The Jewel through the pandemic was up there with the biggest standout moments for me personally I think. We have worked on some insane jobs over the years, Nike World Cup Campaigns, Huge Murals, clothing for Karl Lagerfeld, TV ad’s for Porsche, Loads of stuff for some huge fruit inspired computer based company in California to that we’re not allowed to talk about. There's 21 years of such good stuff to be honest our hard work has definitely paid off.

CK: Your style is known for drawing on nostalgia when it comes to using old arcade graphics – how much do you like to pull in iconic styles from say the 80's and early 90's?

MG: The 80’s and the 90’s are always such a rich pool of inspiration, those 2 decades were so excessive in pumping out the coolest shit imaginable, arcade games, fashion magazines football culture. zines, skateboarding culture, action movies, music.


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CK: Do you have any ads that you hold up as something to aim for? The 90's Brazil nike ads for example?

MG: Nobody has come close to how fucking cool that John Woo Brazil AD was apart from maybe the Guy Richie ad’ Take it to the next level’ ad which was 3 minutes of sheer brilliance too, now i think about it .. Good V Evil with Cantona is class too. Historically I think Nike ads rule the roost, I think Palace do a boss job too, they really do. 


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CK: How do you see football fashion/lifestyle evolving over the next 5-10 years?

MG: Football and fashion so amalgamated, so many collabs, so many different trains of inspiration, footballers on the cover of fashion magazines, fashion brands making football inspired clothing, rappers playing football, footballers rapping I think the lines will become so blurred that there will be the more opportunities for those who want to invest in a purer cleaner choice too, micro brands dedicated to smaller more niche footballing moments, its happening with running already so I can see that growing.


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CK: If you could work with any footballer on something, who would it be and why?

MG: That is so hard, we have been very fortunate as a studio to have worked on set with CR7, Messi, Neymar, Foden, Mbappe, Haaland, Pirlo, But if i'm being incredibly selfish then I would love to work with Fernando Torres one of my favourite ads was the Nike Torres’ Song… And pair that with the T90 lasers III  he wore, the green ones ? OPHHH that would be so dreamy. 

CK: Can you share any plans for exciting projects/works for 2024?

MG: We have done a bunch of new work for EAFC is about to drop very soon and that has got to be some of the very coolest shit we have done in forever, very excited for people to see that, everyone involved did such a great job.


You can view ILD’s work on the their Instagram, here.

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