We caught up with Amrit Randhawa AKA Taxi Cab Industries, who is a visual artist
based at Islington Mill. Since graduating from Graphic design at Salford he’s done all
sorts. From poster design, to painting and printmaking, zines, publications and
putting out mixes Amrit’s practise spans it all. We chatted about making bootlegs, not
taking yourself too seriously, the art of not specialising and the power of self-
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m Amrit, I work under the name Taxi cab Industries which is an umbrella name for
everything I do. I put out graphic design work or a publication or a painting or a T-
shirt or a shitty little mix I’ve made on garage band. It all operates under a black
background under Taxi cab Industries - @taxicabindustires on Insta.
Where did the name come from?
I grew up with lots of bands who were formative to me, around ten years ago, they all
had quite stupid names and regret their name choice. The Arctic Monkeys is not a
very good name for the music they make now or vampire weekend especially are the
antithesis of a name of a band that doesn’t fit to the sound they make.
I just thought Taxi Cab Industries. As soon as you have a name you can just start, at
Uni we had to rebrand ourselves. Other people were just using their name and then
adding creative after it or studio. I never wanted to be called Amrit Randhawa creative
studio. It is easier for me to hide behind an alias where I can do more experimental
HW: It is a little bit distanced from it, there’s more mystery around it.
AR: It all relates back to music and the way musicians can hide behind an alias, take
MF DOOM for example or someone like BURIAL, you don’t know anything about his
personality. I guess I accept I am a boring man who lives in the suburbs. I enjoy my
quietness behind Taxi Cab Industries.
HW: You make zines, paintings, graphic design?
AR: I studied Graphic design, I was fortunate to have the freedom to experiment
outside the basic realm of what graphic design is, or could be. I guess a lot of my
work is in having access to lots of different things, like print making or to consider
painting as a form of graphic design.
Half way through my course I cottoned onto the fact there are no rules at art school. I
thought I was at design school, but I took advantage of the physical space I could
occupy. If I wanted to make a zine, I would wake up and not know what I was gunna
do and then see something and then make a zine. Then 8 or 9 hours later I might
have 24 photocopied zines.
Even though it was Graphic Design, by third year I realised could do whatever I
wanted. Break down the objective of a module there are no rules, as long as you do
the work, you’re fine.
HW: It is about experimentation, I love your work, I’m inspired by how much
you put out and I think your pretty prolific. Painterly but grounded in graphic
AR: In first and second year I was inspired by James Victories, if you learn all the
rules then you can break them. It’s quite cliché, but it’s fun. You see a lot of
practitioners that rebel, but they don’t know the underlying structure they’d they are
rebelling against. Contemporary Graphic designers are against traditional modernist
design. If you don’t understand the principles of modernism, you can’t really rebel
I have been reading about the lives of designers such as Milton Glazier, who were
based in New York in the sixties. They took advertising roles and learnt about how
you set type. They were more interested in the margins of culture and funny styles of
illustration. When they developed their own creative practise, they could set type
I pride myself on knowing the rules of type, it’s so dry. But I really enjoy kerning. If
you’ve never kerned to Jungle, that’s one of life’s greatest joys. Kerning is the
spacing between letters or characters in a piece of text.
HW: It is interesting to bring things from the margins, but in your work there’s
a lot of obvious brands that people recognise for examples Marks & Spencer’s,
AR: At the root of it all, it’s just a bit silly. It’s not highbrow, it’s not dry wit. I wish it
was but I’m not that funny, you can just instantly get it. With the Marx & Spencer’s, I had the idea years ago – it was a matter of thinking it was funny I didn’t think it would sell. I don’t make t-shirts to make a healthy profit margin. I make work that I like and it’s amazing that other people can like it as well.
The Pizza Express thing, I don’t make them thinking it will turn into something people
send on the internet. I’m bored and want to waste my leisure time to see if I can
make these letter forms that don’t exist for a laugh in people’s life.
HW: They take on a life of their own, there’s a lot of value in it being silly, fun
AR: I am inspired by practitioners that are silly. That’s the core root of it, there’s not
much more to it. It’s a nice thing. If I took it more seriously, I would lose that silliness.
HW: You end up over analysing and pull apart the concept.
AR: I like cultural and historical contexts; the human eye knows when something is
laboured and it hasn’t been made with love as cheesy at that sounds.
What is Commodity Fetishism? What do you mean by that?
AR: It is a term Marx would use throughout Kapital. His writings on economics, I
might not fully understand that term but I know the term, it’s silly and an entendre. So
if people don’t understand it either that’s alright!
I was just trying to make a joke about how I’m in a contemporary sense of the word
fetishizing the idea of a revival of Marx. I’m a typical Marxist in the sense I don’t
really understand Marxism or haven’t engaged fully in Marxist texts which makes me
an amazing Marxist.
HW: We are always consuming, so you are taking them and throwing them
back out to us, holding up a bit of a mirror?
AR: Sometimes I make work that I’m not that happy with and I wonder if it’s just what
Banksy did twenty years ago, and Banksy is like Coldplay, everyone knows who he
is, just he’s not that cool. But maybe your Mum would compare you to him, my Mum
always says this is like Banksy. But there’s a lot of truth in that I’m not being that
smart with what I do. It is a bit silly, a bit of a joke. A lot of the artwork and design
work I’ve liked over the years stems from taking the piss a little bit.
HW: There is the whole Stöckport thing – how did that come about? Making
connections to where you are?
AR: Again, all this stuff is happening in the unconscious mind, I’m not that aware. I
have a sketchbook here and it’s full of shit. I have about 5 or 6 sketchbooks on the
go dotted around and there is no lineage to any of the sketches and I probably have
some form of behavioural order, undiagnosed ADHD as I’m quite erratic, not very
organised and sketch like that. I drew when I was at Uni in a sketchbook at 2 or 3 in
I draw portraits, do design work, then that comes out. Maybe I’ve just seen a Stüssy
tee and then I think ha, that would be a funny bootleg. It took three years to make it
into a shirt. I am quite often catching up on ideas from years ago. Some of the ideas
you don’t know if it will work. It’s a risk if the shirts will sell.
Using Logo designs and bootlegging was a bit of a joke. Part of me recognises that I
have to make them real and save money for months on end on a risky venture.
I’ve never celebrated the fact; I have reprinted the Stöckport ones three times. –
Some new Stöckport t-shirt’s coming out soon. It’s a lot to invest. It never feels like
an achievement it’s to invest back into my practise.
All the risk is on me, the money slowly comes back to me but I just like doing silly
HW: You are one man design, production, marketing, admin, etc
I’m taking a break at the moment; I’ve just had to say no to. It’s too much work to
finance a practise and figuring out how to shift 50 t-shirts’, RareMags have stocked
the Stöckport T-shirt and will stock the next one.
The point of having a practise, in theory it a one-man operation but lots of people
help me. They have a lot of confidence in me and a lot of belief of what I do. They
wanted to buy 30 more, 30 T-shirts felt like a big production. If someone pushes you
and gives you positive reinforcement you feel like you can do it.
People are sweet on Instagram, I don’t expect people to say it’s nice, over the past
few years people will directly message me which is very considerate.
Could you speak about other people you’ve partnered with?
Tee’s for Partisan – they asked me to design some tee’s for them – we talked about
doing the t-shirt before Everpress campaign, the logistics felt too much but they sold
70 in the end and all the money goes back to them.
Was that in the pandemic?
I honestly don’t know – I can't remember – I think it was before. That was a bootleg of
the Nuclear war, Nein Danke – It has been translated into over 180 languages, but
they are clamping down on people bootlegging it. I spent a few days in bedroom and
didn’t leave. I don’t know how copyright law works. I probably should look that up.
HW: I’ve done a Nike rip before at Uni and we were fine.
AR: Sports banger does it with their NHS t-shirt’s, so maybe it's fine.
I know you make a lot of zines, wondered if you could expand on that?
I think we first met at the Over Here Zine Fest, it was the same weekend as
Bound, there was three zine fests on that weekend.
Zines are great, I picked them up from Uni from the lecturers, John Powell Jones, he
was making interesting comics and had a screen-printing practise. He introduced me
to Steve Hockit, for Oi Polloi’s zine Peeker post. The content of their zines never
reflected athleisure or flannel zines or jackets for 800 pounds. I like the culture
around zine making and people who aren’t designers make these things. I was
enamoured by zines that were made by graphic designers.
At the time I was fortunate to see people like Shy Bairns exhibiting stuff. I guess
seeing people in Manchester make zines got me into it. It’s harder now, I loved Uni
because we were fortunate to have the space and time. But now money is the
barrier. I think I can run a freelance practise but every moment is about making a
living of it and prioritising client work, applying to things – there’s always a 500-
pound thing and you never get it but you apply anyway.
I still make zines I’m making a really big one at the moment. I have to make a living
and zines just don’t do that. The more I make, I’m more interested in methods of
binding and print production.
I’m currently making a book taking a photo of the “type” (text) in the background of all
the shots in the Wire, the best TV show ever. I want it to be an actual book. You can’t rationalise that. If you don’t have thousands of pounds, it will be a bread-and-
butter outcome. I love the zine I made called a typographic study of Walsall. In an
ideal world, I would live on a stipend where I could walk around and take photos of
my signs I like.
I’ve started one for Manchester just before the pandemic. All the things I think about
zines are the opposite of what zine making is about. People just get information out
but we don’t live in an era where the newsagents have a photocopier for 5p a sheet.
I am enamoured by Sarah Boney Press who puts out really good artists to document
their work, people who work full time jobs and in their evenings, they want to up their
level of print production.
There is a community of zine makers, it is quite nice. My first five zines were really
shit. But it is nice when you go to Bound Art Book Fair, and see all these losers who
work full time jobs are under one roof for a weekend who actually care about printed
things. Maybe now it is a more of a middle class exercise rather than putting out a
zine about smashing the fasch, or female sexual liberation.
HW: The point of zines is they can be about anything. Born out the punk, riot
grrll, all the women to the front, but they range from anything politics to your
AR: My fave zine is one where the artist asked their friends to draw Bart Simpson
called Art Simpson – So simple and funny.
I wanted to touch on the crossover of how you work multidisciplinary, as
someone that also does that. I struggle with the idea of not specialising in
something. Is it an advantage?
It is something that was haunting to the point where it is paralysing, especially when
you leave university, if you are to ‘make it’, you have to have a formalisation, you
need a website and a business card. Maybe it is really a privilege to specialise, we
admire Lucien Freud and Frances Bacon, who had the time money and space to do
what they love.
I couldn’t envision myself sitting down and doing the same thing every day. I want to
pursue my dream and I want to try everything. It is liberating. The thing that keeps on coming back to me is Douglas Coupland in his twitter bio he wrote ‘never left art
school’. It had a profound effect. Maybe you physically left the art school space, but
you can still experiment and try new things.
There might be DJs, that might do graphics, that also do textiles, in an ideal world we
could specialise but the creative industries are oversaturated and non-linear, one day you need to be an editor and then you become a videographer or editor because
you have final cut pro.
I would love to be a contemporary painter, represented by a gallery and paint all day.
In history this happened to people who were incredibly wealthy.
A lot of my graphic design isn’t always shown on my Insta because it is to make a
living and I have the skills to kern letters, or create imagery for social media. It is
hard to say you’re a specialist when you’re just trying to live. I’m not on the breadline,
I could never pretend I’m not middle class, I can live with my parents and it’s a trade-
off. People ask me how do you make a painting? How do you make a mix? But at
the moment I don’t have to worry about making my rent.
There is nothing wrong with just doing it, in an ideal world I would love to do one
thing. I would love to pay people to help me do stuff under the name
Taxicabindustries, the studio could grow bigger.
It is not a new contemporary idea– Take Milton Glazier, his illustration style changes
so much with new ideas and projects, he was just curious. Ultimately, we are driven
by a curious nature. Picasso wasn’t just a painter, he printed pieces or did ceramics
and lino prints. Quite often we negate the fact that most practioners are engaged in
lots of other things. Whether that’s a musician who makes their own artworks or t-
shirt’s, writers who self-publish and interest in publications.
You have to know other things to have a more informed world view – most of the
books that have been inspirational or informative aren’t about graphics or art. There
lots of benefits to specialisation but why pigeon hole yourself if you’re so young. If
you want to go to Long Bois on a Saturday afternoon you can just do that.
I’ve always tried to maintain autonomy and ultimately to work with interesting people.
I was lucky to work with Bound, Rob, Joe and Lillian and Rory Clifford. 4 people’s
practise I admire. People who were lovely to work with, have admirable virtues, of
patience and considerations.
Why does working in the arts become synonymous with being horrible, you
can nice and be successful you can be both?
AR: There are people in the art world who are mean and cut throat but at what cost.
What’s on the horizon? What’s coming up next?
I think I’ve been quite pessimistic, maybe that’s who I am.
HW: You sell yourself short a little bit.
AR: I think I will always do that, I think people think it’s a big ploy, I’m not very smart
and don’t have the lexicon to talk about my practise. I am taking a break and
reflecting, not stopped for the last 3 and half years. There’s always client work,
there’s always emails. It has had a negative impact on the way I live.
I am accepting that we are in this horrible time, living through history, if we are living
through this time, there’s only so many bootleg logos the world needs. I think what’s
happening all across the world is very serious, the Burger King rebrand is not that
I’ve been drawing a lot of Union Jacks. I’m planning paintings and big scale pieces,
but not putting a rush on myself. I have a need to have an output at all times
especially if I’ve not posted something online, even though that’s not a measurement
of my practise.
It would be lovely to be part of exhibitions, I was gunna be in three exhibitions which
have been postponed. I need the balance more of reading and watching things.
Have you ever watched the film ‘office space’? There is a great bit what would you
do if you won the lottery. I would sit around and do nothing. Teaching is rewarding.
Client work is rewarding. But for years I’ve been working 6 or 7 day weeks.
Have you ever done nothing? Not because your hungover or depressed, just to do
nothing. If you can watch two films in a day and still feel productive that is a good
That’s my horizon, turn off Strava, put some Jungle on and go for a bike ride.
Cos Jungle is contrary to popular belief, massive