To celebrate a partnership between TOAST and Brooks England, artist duo Luke & Nik came together to journey through London, cycling from leafy parks to the pebble-laden banks of the Thames. Mapping their path from place to place, they mirror the creative process of engaging with open spaces to seek inspiration, an important aspect of their craft.

Man stacking rocks on a beach

For Luke Norman and Nik Adam, the creative journey began in Farnham in 2007. The artist duo, who create playful and vibrant photography and moving image work under the moniker Luke & Nik, first met while studying at the University for the Creative Arts. Now, their creative partnership sees them living in Copenhagen and south London respectively, though collaborating across boundaries has only helped to shape their dynamic and distinctive craft. “We’ve been working between two different places since we first started,” Luke explains. “But we always shoot together - that’s the main objective,” Nik says.

Stones laid out on a beach; man in blue shirt taking photographs

The pair have developed a workflow that allows them both to pick up or hand over any aspect of the process, making their output uniquely collaborative, their process instinctive and synchronised. Communication is key, and the duo spend as much time planning as they do executing. “We talk a lot over Zoom,” Nik laughs. “Though during the pandemic, we had a bit of an advantage because we were used to that way of working,” says Luke.

Drawings of flowers; flowers on a bike seat

Luke & Nik's work is instantly recognisable. Through innovative and exploratory techniques, such as cut-out, collage and double exposure, their kaleidoscopic work casts subjects through a playful new lens. Early signs of their unique perspective were there from the start. “What we were making at university doesn’t feel a million miles away from what we’re doing now,” Luke says. “Everything was shot on film and we were very process-led. After graduating we had to make work on a commercial scale, and though we learned a lot from that journey, we were going down a path that didn't feel authentic to the vision we’d set out with. Over the past five years or so, we’ve changed direction and our work feels very genuine to that first starting point.”

Man holding rocks in front of his eyes

Though both are based in cities, their work always speaks to a relationship with nature - be it through fallen leaves found in a park scanned in and superimposed, or beach rocks stacked up into abstract and towering forms. “We’ve returned to our original way of shooting, which is just picking up our cameras and going out into nature,” Nik says.

Two men crouching down behind boulders

“Whether it’s editorial or commercial work, we don’t separate the two, we just tend to get out into open spaces to recharge or reflect and feel inspired by the environment. We want to make work that makes us happy, so it makes sense to explore places we feel positive - both us and our work benefit from creating in nature.”

Man in bright green shirt jumping into the air in a basketball court

Both photographers cycle daily to their respective studios and small moments en route through the leafy neighbourhoods of south London and along Copenhagen’s colourful harbours prompt thoughts that inspire their wider work. “Cycling provides important headspace for us,” Nik says. “We both have similar journeys and at the start or end of a long day, it creates that space between home and work. If I cycle through a new area or spot something of interest, I always drop a pin on the map for future reference.”

Man wearing blue jacket and backpack

“Going out to find these open spaces has become a bit of a process for us,” Nik says. “At first, it wasn’t a conscious thing,” Luke agrees. “It just starts from an initial bit of inspiration or could be completely unconscious, and then it has the potential to blossom into something much more.”

Man drawing on camera lens; cycling on a bike

Luke & Nik’s first solo exhibition, Reconstructed Nature, showing at Photofusion in Brixton in May, has required the pair to survey their vast body of work, highlighting the common threads that run through each photograph. After 15 years of collaborating, gaining a fresh perspective is always welcomed on their creative journey. “Every day we learn more about our practice,” Nik reflects. “Right now, it’s nice to be able to stand back and see how all the elements of our work - this circle of editorial, commercial and personal, film photographs and iPhone shots - are constantly evolving and informing one another.

Hands stacking rocks on a bike seat

The Pickwick Cotton Canvas is a roll-top backpack crafted by Brooks England whose minimalist design complements an urban journey by bike. The sage colour way, exclusive to TOAST.

Luke wears the TOAST Monty Japanese Denim Jacket, Rory CarpenterJapenese Denim Jeans and Indigo Textured Stripe Chore Jacket.

Nik wears the TOAST Garment Dyed Organic Cotton Coach Jacket, Crew Neck Wool Sweater, Rory Carpenter Canvas Trousers, Clamp Dyed Short Sleeve Shirt, Twisted Wool Colour Block Sweater, Flecky Wool Cashmere Seamless Sweater and the Fracap Suede Camp Shoes.

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2 comments

London and Copenhagen the collaboration of two creatives capturing life’s simple pleasures while going to and from work on their bicycles. Heavenly! Brooks bicycle and Toast clothing what could be better than that!

Jenny 27 days ago

London and Copenhagen the collaboration of two creatives capturing life’s simple pleasures while going to and from work on their bicycles. Heavenly! Brooks bicycle and Toast clothing what could be better than that!

Jenny 1 month ago