4 May, 2016
What is your background? How did first get into what you do now?
I’ve pretty much been involved in print in some form or another since high school. My first taste of working within the print industry was during a work experience program where I joined a family run screen printing firm in Selby. I always had an interest in art and print, but this fuelled my curiosity even more and so naturally I applied for and studied at Leeds College of Art & Design for two years. Since leaving in 2000, I’ve been fortunate enough to develop my experience under a number of roles, everything from a print assistant to a designer. I now work in London at a long standing design agency within the production department.
I only recently started to properly dabble in collage but I wanted to move away from my previous illustrated work as it’s important for my sanity to try new things, rather than to keep regurgitating similar work. I tend to get bored with a medium fairly quickly once I think I’ve exhausted as far as I can take it. However, for the time being, I’m still having fun with it and have a few more ideas up my sleeve. Most recently I’ve been trying to combine collage with risograph print, which has been an interesting clash. I think I’ve fallen in love with Risograph.
What inspires your designs?
Punk is pretty much my main influence. It’s an obsession I’ve had since being a teenager, though my tastes have matured considerably since those days. I love its home-made aesthetic and the idea of recycling something old to create something new. Its an empowering genre and adopts a DIY mentality that encourages me to be creative. My work isn’t necessarily as obvious as say a punk flyer but I certainly owe a lot to the aesthetic and style.
I like to use ubiquitous objects and imagery mostly lifted from vintage books to create something more abstract and often a little ominous.
You are a drummer and frequently do design work for various bands, what influence does music have on the rest of your work?
It has a huge influence on my work, not just for the links to punk but I’m also an avid record collector and like nothing more that perusing old record sleeves, reading the inlays whilst enjoying the music and a brew. My wife says I have a problem. For the record (no pun intended), she is wrong.
Record sleeves have enormous power and influence which can stylise entire genres and their listeners, for instance Peter Saville’s work for New Order and the like. I’ve been very fortunate to be able to work on album covers and record sleeves throughout the years, but I can’t help but feel immense pressure when doing them. Not only do you have to relate in some way visually to the music, but you have to represent that band and their ideology accurately and to the best of your ability. I love doing them but I’m always plagued with nerves throughout the entire process.
Do you feel like London is too creatively dense? Or does the creative culture make it easier for you to disseminate your work?
Very much so, though I don’t consider it to be a negative thing. Creativity doesn’t necessarily mean good work is being created. If anything, I think I’ve developed a subconscious filter that weeds out work I have no interest in. For instance, in my home town, if someone had spray painted a giant mural on the side of Costcutter, I would notice, but now living in Hackney, I barely realise it’s there half of the time. I just actively seek out the exhibitions, artwork and events I’m interested in. I suppose you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone and when I do inevitably leave London, I’ll miss the creativity on every corner.
Spreading my work about has been my main goal this year and it’s been surprisingly straight forward so far. I continue to do the Hackney and Peckham Art Markets which are excellent places to meet new artists too and I’ve have since been asked to exhibit my work on several occasions since taking part in them. I think interesting creative work gets noticed, so they key thing is to just keep putting it out there for it to be noticed.
What illustrators and artists do you most admire? Where do you go for inspiration?
This changes frequently but I suppose the ones I keep going back to and find the most inspiring are abstract artists like Seripop, Bjorn Copeland, Brian Chippendale and the like. All are heavily involved in DIY sub-genres in music in the US and Seripop have created gig posters for some of my favourite bands of all time. Bjorn Copeland is one of the long standing members of noise outfit Black Dice and Brian Chippendale is probably most known for being half of the noise-rock duo Lightning Bolt, he’s also an amazing surrealist artist too.
Recently I’ve been getting into the scuzzy and dark illustration by Sam Ryser’s and his shop Dripper World (New York), plus Jake Hollings‘ abstract paper collage work too based in this here London town.
If you could have a coffee or cigarette with anybody, who would it be? Why?
Penny Rimbaud because he’s such an interesting human being. He is constantly being creative in a variety of mediums and stands up for his beliefs as an activist. He’s a very influential character and maintains a happy life outside of ‘the system’. Plus he’s a drummer; I’m a drummer and maybe he might teach me some Crass songs.
How do you see the future of images?
Currently there seems to be a small backlash against computer-aided doctoring of images and artists are adopting and returning to traditional crafts and methods. Having worked with computers most of my life, I too find the whole process of manipulating imagery using software quite deceiving. It’s like pulling the veil over the viewer’s eyes to deliver only perfection and it’s all a bit contrived and try hard. I personally find character in imperfection and digital imagery rarely offers this to me, only convenience. However, I do like the recently fashionable aesthetic of ‘bit-crushing’ imagery and using software against itself. Although, a lot of the work looks fairly similar at the moment, proving its difficult to maintain the artists’ style and character when the software is taking control of crushing the images data. Who knows, I’m waffling.
What would you like to work on in the future?
I’d like to do some more mural work, something I touched on when I lived in Leeds. Something bigger than an A2 canvas. Plus I’m hoping to return to screen print very soon too. For now though, I haven’t completely exhausted collage just yet.